A pair of all-Native professional lacrosse clubs will continue to operate out of the same facility for the coming season. During the Canadian Lacrosse League's inaugural year in 2012 both the Ohsweken Demons and Iroquois Ironmen staged their home contests at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Ohsweken, Ontario. But the two squads were not the only members of the league, more commonly known as CLax, that utilized the same arena.
The Oshawa Machine and Durham Turfdogs both played out of the General Motors Centre in Oshawa. And the Brampton Inferno and Peel Avengers both had their home contests at the Powerade Centre in Brampton. CLax officials though were not entirely thrilled with these arrangements - having six clubs playing out of three facilities. "It's better for the league if we're spread out to other cities," said CLax commissioner Paul St. John.
As a result, the Machine has relocated to Toronto. This franchise, which has been renamed the Toronto Shooting Stars, will play out of the old Maple Leaf Gardens, now called the Mattamy Athletic Centre. And the Avengers moved out of Brampton to St. Catharines.
As of late October the new franchise name had yet to be announced. Fans were also awaiting to hear the moniker of the expansion franchise in Barrie. The seven-team league is scheduled to begin its second season on Jan. 12. Regular season action will continue until early April. All league entrants will play 14 games.
St. John does not mind the fact the Demons and Ironmen will continue to share the same facility. "They've been terrific since Day 1," St. John said of the two clubs. "And their talent was proven last year." The Demons ended up winning the league championship. They defeated the Ironmen 15-10 in the final, held this past April
Vince Hill will continue to serve as the director of operations for both the Demons and the Ironmen. The two clubs though have their own coaching staffs. Hill would love to see the Demons and Ironmen advance to the league final once again. "That's our goal," he said.
"It's going to be tough to have a repeat. But we'll give it a good shot." Hill added both of the Native clubs managed to get hot at the right time last season. The Demons, who had a record of 8-6 in regular season play, had placed third in the league standings. And the 6-8 Ironmen managed to grab the fourth and final post-season berth. "We were able to have a good run in the end and into the playoffs," Hill said of the two Native teams. Hill is in favor of the fact the CLax will operate out of six facilities this coming season, twice as many as a year ago. He believes playing out of more centres gives the league some more credibility. "It's like anything else," he added. "You've got to take baby steps to get where you want to go."
Hill also likes the fact a league entrant will be playing out of the former Maple Leaf Gardens, which arguably was Canada's most famous sporting venue. "We're looking forward to going up there," he said. For awhile it appeared there would be even more Aboriginal teams in the CLax for the 2013 campaign. Groups from the eastern Ontario community of Akwesasne, and Kahnawake, located south of Montreal, had expressed some interest in joining the league. "That area (of Ontario and Quebec) doesn't know too much about our league," St. John said. But he's now hoping those center join the CLax in time for the 2014 campaign.
"It would be nice to have them both in there and maybe an Ottawa team as well," St. John said.