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Friday, November 7, 2008

Box Lacrosse

Box lacrosse is a different beast than Field Lax. In many ways, it is more similar to hockey and basketball, most likely due to the fact that it is played in many of the same arenas. In fact, the game was originally invented by Canadian ice rink owners as a way to make money during the summer.
Basic Rules:

On the floor, a team consists of a goalkeeper and five runners. When the sport originated teams played with six runners. However, in 1953 the sixth runner, a position called rover, was eliminated. Team rosters are typically a total of 16 to 24 players on the bench. The goalkeeper can be replaced by another runner (often when a penalty has been signaled by the referee or at the end of a quarter).

A players lacrosse stick must be between 40 inches (1.0 m) and 46 inches (1.2 m) in length (youth levels may use shorted sticks). In most box lacrosse leagues, the use of an traditional wooden stick is allowed. In the National Lacrosse League, wooden lacrosse sticks are not allowed. Besides a lacrosse stick, each player must also wear a certain amount of protective equipment, including: a lacrosse helmet with facemask, lacrosse gloves, arm and shoulder pads, and back/kidney pads (optional in some leagues).

During a typical game the number of officials can range from one to three, depending on the league and level of play.

The playing area of box lacrosse is typically a ice hockey rink during the summer months. The playing surface is usually the melted concrete floor underneath the rink. The National Lacrosse League plays on artificial turf placed on top of the ice. Some leagues, and teams that have dedicated box lacrosse arenas (such as the Iroquois), have outfitted their playing surface with artificial turf similar to the National Lacrosse League.

Box lacrosse goals are dimensions are traditionally 4 feet (1.2 m) wide by 4 feet (1.2 m) tall. In the National Lacrosse League and Major Series Lacrosse the dimensions are slightly larger at 4 feet 9 inches (1.4 m) wide by 4 feet (1.2 m) tall. These nets are significantly smaller than in field lacrosse nets which measure 6 feet (1.8 m) wide by 6 feet (1.8 m) feet tall.

Each period, and after each goal scored, play is restarted with a face-off. During play, teams may substitute players in and out as they wish. Sometimes this is referred to as "on the fly" substitution. The sport utilizes a shot clock and the attacking team must take a shot on goal within 30 seconds of gaining possession of the ball. In additional, players must advance the ball from their own defensive end to the offensive half of the floor within 10 seconds.
A penalty shot, where a player from the non-offending team is given an attempt to score a goal without opposition from any defending players except the goaltender, may be awarded under certain circumstances. By rule, teams must have at least three runners in play. If a team commits a third penalty resulting in a "three man down" situation a penalty shot is awarded in favor of having the offending player serve in the penalty box. A penalty shot may also be awarded, at the referee's discretion, if a defensive player causes a foul to prevent a goal (by throwing his stick, holding, tripping, or by deliberately displacing the goal, or a defensive player intentionally falls and covers a ball in his own team's crease).

Similar to fighting in ice hockey, fighting is illegal in box lacrosse. However, what separates box lacrosse (and ice hockey) from other sport is that at the top levels of professional and junior lacrosse, a five-minute major penalty is given and the players are not ejected for participating in a fight.

Fighting in youth or club level box lacrosse is typically penalized with expulsion and suspensions. In 1990, when the Six Nations created the new Mohawk lacrosse league, fighting was specifically targeted as unacceptable. Violators were ejected from the game in which the altercation occurred and given a minimum three game suspension.
As far as box's future in Des Moines, I am unsure. There are two ice rinks (if you do not count Wells Fargo Arena) with three sheets of ice between them. It is possible that at least one of these rinks could take a cue from the Canadians and put down turf for the summer. This would allow us to play box lacrosse just like our northern neighbors.
I seriously doubt that either rink would want to invest the money it would take to convert their rink for a sport no one even plays yet. The Facility tries not to thaw its ice as much as possible and would most likely not want to put turf on top of their current surfaces. Plus, their building is typically far too warm in the summer when playing on the ICE, so playing without it would be hellish. Bucs Arena has more potential, but playing there is not very likely either.If Box Lax comes around any time soon, it would be in one of two ways. The first would be to play an outdoor version of Box, which would really be more like field lacrosse with a shorter field and fewer players. This has potential, but would have some of the problems of traditional field lacrosse. Still, it would give us the chance to play outdoors and work on attacking and high pressure defense. The Gaits and others honed their skills in the box, so this could prove advantageous when we enter the GPLL.

My other thought is that there is a venue just off the south side of Des Moines that may be suitable for box lacrosse. Perhaps the Soccer House would allow us to set up shop during their off months. My understanding is that the building is unused for most of the summer and even part of the winter. Now, I do not know what the air conditioning situation is in there, but I imagine it is ghastly. Still, I think the Soccer House shows the most promise to host Box Lax in the near future...

Supplemental information obtained from:

Continue to Part 4

Tribe 7