Best Place to Find Low Prices - Discontinued Gear

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wish I Would Have Found This a Month Ago

I already have a hockey playing Santa that looks like it might be from the same line. Maybe it'll go on sale and I can pick it up for next Christmas...
If you want one of these, click here.
I hope you're having a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tis the Night Before Christmas...

As you are drifting off to sleep,
Santa Claus will do his Christmas creep.
Whether you leave cookies or banana bread,
hopefully Old Saint Nick will bring you a new lax head.
As he places the gifts oh so quick,
no doubt he'll leave you that titanium stick.
But if you've never scored a goal,
expect a fat lump of coal.Have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hockey Night in Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 19

The ABC Hockey League does have games tonight, but I will not be attending. Some last minute Christmas needs are preventing me from making it, despite the late start time. Irwins will be facing third place Alien. Alien is always tough, so I wish my teammates good luck tonight!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

D1 Lax Is Coming to a Town Near You!

I'm at work so I cannot go into too much detail right now, but Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin made a major announcement today:
Marquette University will add men's and women's lacrosse to its NCAA
Division I varsity sports offerings, Athletic Director Steve Cottingham
announced Thursday. Both teams will begin competition in spring 2013.

This is a huge step for our region as Marquette will become the closest NCAA D1 program to Des Moines (308 miles vs 382 miles to Notre Dame). The potential to send Iowa laxers to D1 camps in Milwaukee is huge and the scouting possibilities for leagues in our region will drastically increase.
I will be looking into establishing a relationship with the school ASAP.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lacrosse Magazine

To whomever nominated me as "Fan of the Year" in Lacrosse Magazine, my sincerest thanks. It caught me by surprise and brought a tear to my eye to see my name. (The amount of background info was a bit unnerving, however... JK)

Lacrosse has become an important part of my life and I will continue to work my hardest to help it flourish in Des Moines, throughout Iowa, and across our region. As great as my love for the game is, I have not done this alone. Thanks to Zach, Tyler, Jim, Iowa State Men's Lax, Drake Lax, Valley lax, Coach Tumbas at 412, and the countless others that have helped get the game going in Iowa. We are looking forward to an even bigger year in 2011!

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

Hockey Night In Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 18

The downward spiral for the Irwins hockey team continued last week with an 8-1 loss to the Puck Hawgs. We were hampered with numerous absences last week including three of our defensemen and a fellow center. This resulted in the third center playing defense and winger backing me up at center. The result was me being on the ice for 2/3 of the game and tweaking my knee.
My knee has recovered and we are expecting a more complete roster tonight. As we will face the defending champs who are currently tied for first place - Cup O Kryptonite. Kryptonite is as formidable as ever and will be looking to improve their goal differential.
Despite our massive losing streak, our play has improved every week. We work well together but suffer from soft shooting, a lack of rebounds, and general bad luck. If we can eliminate two of those things tonight, we could walk out of Buccaneer Arena with an upset. As President Obama said during his campaign, "Hope."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

MLL Expansion: David Gross Confirms 2 in 2012!

Lacrosse Magazine is reporting that Major League Lacrosse will go forward with expansion, adding two teams in the 2012 season and two more in 2013 to bring the league back up to ten teams. Gross continues to say that the league is aiming for 16 teams by the end of the decade.
"The health of our league has never been better," Gross said on the heels of MLL's 10th anniversary season. "Ten years gives us legitimacy."
"We feel there is enough talent," he said of expansion plans. "It will also help keep guys in the league longer."
LM also has a poll regarding these four new teams. The poll lists 19 potential expansion markets targeted by MLL as mentioned by Gross. Whether or not this list is inclusive or just exemplary is not known.

MLL has identified 19 markets in which it has interest, including: Atlanta, Columbus(Ohio), Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville(Tenn.), Orange County (Calif.), Orlando (Fla.), Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham(N.C.), Salt Lake City and Virginia Beach (Va.). The league has also examined the possibility of a team in either Portland, Ore., or Seattle.
Also on the list are Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, home of former MLL franchises Machine, Barrage and Dragons, respectively.
To vote, follow this link.
Gross states that all 19 markets have ownership groups ready to invest in the league, something that has been a large problem in the past. This list seems fairly focused and contains a nice mix of large and mid size markets. Kansas City is conspicuously absent, however... In fact, only two of the five teams I proposed in a recent poll are on the list.However, I feel that there may be hope for Kansas City (and possibly one more city on the list). Gross said that the league will announce the two new 2012 teams this February. Generally that means that everything is in place and ready to go. Logically, the league is no longer targeting these markets as they have already acquired them; therefore these cities would not be on the above list. Given that Sporting Kansas City specifically mentioned lacrosse during the MLS team's rebranding, it makes sense that they may have been one of the cities included in the first round of expansion.

"But like European soccer clubs," Heineman said, "several other sports, such as lacrosse and rugby, will fall under the Sporting Kansas City umbrella in the future."

Whether SKC is set to be one of the 2012 teams is uncertain. However, it is entirely possible. The omission of Kansas City from the target list may also serve as a strategic slight of hand by Gross. By keeping quiet about the confirmed markets and throwing out a large list of possible markets, the commissioner allows the official announcement to build excitement. In this day and age of spoilers and WikiLeaks, it would be a nice change of pace to see a professional league drop a bomb like this. I guess we will find out in February...
For what it is worth, my top guesses for the upcoming announcement are Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee.
This expansion would compliment the rebirth of the Rochester Rattlers and the rumored move of the Toronto Nationals to Hamilton. The Rattlers were already announced while official word about the Nationals is expected to come before the end of the year.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hockey Night In Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 17

Boy, last week was a classic example of a disaster. In what should have been a surefire win over Funky Pickle, Irwins humiliated ourselves with a 14-1 loss. Out lone goal came in the closing minutes from one of defensemen - also one of our oldest players - Rick Radcliff. This loss firmly cements us in the league's basement. We have not had a win since squeaking by the same Funky Pickle team 5-4 on October 20!
Tonight we face a major uphill struggle against the Puck Hawgs. A fellow cellar dweller last season, the Hawgs are now tied for first place with my former team, Cup O Kryptonite. Backed by the league's best goalie, Justin Hillock, our scorelines have been lopsided to say the least. The lone goal in our last defeat to the Hawgs came prior to Hillock's on-ice arrival. Yes, you read that correctly; Hillock was running behind in the locker room and the Hawgs played with six skaters and no goalie for the first four minutes or so - and we only managed one measly goal.
As we have the 9:55 start time tonight, we are expecting Pentico to be in net. Pentico has shown more resolve than Daniels of late. We are hopeful that his presence will boost the team's morale at least enough to be competitive.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dubuque Lacrosse Clinic This Weekend

For anybody living in Northeast Iowa, I wanted to pass on the latest opportunities in Dubuque. The DYLA is well on their way to developing a comprehensive lacrosse program, including a high school team planned to begin playing this spring.

True Lacrosse and the Dubuque Youth Lacrosse Association are hosting a FREE Speciality Clinic and Demo Day this Sunday, December 12.

Time: 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Where: Courtside Bar & Grill
2095 Holliday Drive
Dubuque, IA 52002-0471
All players should wear the proper lacrosse equipment, if you need equipment please email your age, height and weight to True Lacrosse so we can bring you a set.
Rental equipment also free of charge!
We will be playing indoors so please wear gym shoes, not cleats!
Come learn from some of the most experienced players and coaches in the lacrosse world.
This event is open to all ages and skill levels so feel free to invite all
your friends!
For more information, please contact the Dubuque Youth Lacrosse Association.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Duke Dropping Brine Next Year?

How is this for a bold prediction?

Duke Lacrosse will drop Brine (New Balance) as their official equipment, helmet, uniform, and shoe supplier within the next 7-12 months. They will switch to Nike shoes and uniforms, as well as Nike and possibly STX equipment. There is a high probability that Cascade will supply their helmets going forward.
The school's athletic department signed and exclusive contract with Nike in 2009. Current contracts are running their course, but all are set to expire within two years of the signing date. As the summertime is most colleges' "off season," it is most likely that this contract was signed between May and August of 2009. Expect an announcement or official mock ups around then.
My speculation is rooted in this article:

In 2009, Duke's athletics department signed a contract with Nike Inc., giving the apparel giant exclusive rights to supply all twenty-six varsity teams with uniforms, shoes, and other equipment. Before each season, a Nike representative contacts a team's coach to present various options for the look of that season's gear.
Before the Nike contract was signed, each coach ordered from his or her own manufacturer, and some of those agreements will remain in place for the next two years.

Just remember that you heard it from me first!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hockey Night In Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 16

Irwins is back in action tonight at 8:35 pm. We return from Thanksgiving break with what should be a gimme game. Funky Pickle sits just ahead of us in the standings, but they are the only team in the league that has not beaten us.
My hopes are high for tonight. A victory following the week off could spark our energy enough to start a streak. Still, we'll take this one game at a time and focus on defeating the Pickles tonight. This is our opportunity to climb up the ladder a bit.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Go Blue?

According to a random remark made on MGoBlog today, Michigan may finally launch D1 lax - for men and women!
Will be expanding the athletic department…adding both men’s and women’s Lacrosse to get up to 27 sports.
Although it does not give a date, information I have picked up elsewhere says the programs will be added in time for the 2012 season. Already the top program in the MCLA, the Wolverines are one of the best supported and funded varsity club programs in the nation. They were the first high profile team to wear Adidas gear and have been used in the company's marketing campaigns.
I have long thought that adding more high profile schools at the D1 level will provide the greatest benefit to men's lax. Notre Dame's epic 2010 season did a lot to raise the game's profile and the potential for rivalry games with the Wolverines will continue that. With the Irish's NBC contract, match ups with Big Blue might actually creep onto nationwide broadcast television; the effects of that could be mind shattering indeed.
Michigan's presence also adds a third team in the Big Ten conference (Ohio State, Penn State). Not only does this allow for more Big Ten Network broadcasts, but it also builds incentive for other schools in the conference to add lax. Certainly the additional broadcasting potential and revenue would do wonders during the network's relatively light spring schedule.
This was another interesting tidbit from the post:
Dave Brandon (Michigan AD) sees the Big 10 at 14 teams in the next couple of years, with 16 teams being possible. Only big name teams that have a large market share / successful in sports and in academics. He did not name names, but mentioned only a few schools fit that profile.
This hearkens back the mayhem of this summer by indicating that the Big Ten is not ready to stand pat. Further expansion also opens the doors to more lacrosse programs in the conference.
Should this expansion happen, and should Michigan finally take the big step, then it is definitely not hard to imagine the conference working towards sanctioning lacrosse and adding a championship game within the next decade. Exciting times indeed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Machine to Rochester Confirmed

This in an update to an earlier post.
From Inside Lacrosse:
ROCHESTER, NY - RocLax LLC Owner & CEO Robert Clark announced today that Major League Lacrosse will be returning to Rochester for the 2011 season. The team, nicknamed the Rattlers, will feature the best players in the world and will play its home games at Marina Auto Stadium. The Rochester Rattlers have retained 23 players from the Chicago Machine franchise for the 2011 season. A complete roster is available at Three of the notable players are:

Ned Crotty - 2010 MLL Rookie of the Year, led all rookies in scoring with 24 points in seven games.
Casey Powell - MLL all-leader leader with 388 points, second in assists 186 and seventh in goals 197.
Matt Streibel - Member of MLL Championship teams in 2004, 2006 & 2007, Named MVP in 2007.

This really was not much of a surprise. I am happy to see pro lax return to Rochester. I am even happier to see a more stable franchise. Travelling teams are scary at the professional level...

A Shocking MLL Development

On the heels of the news about the Machine moving to Rochester as the Rattlers 2.0, Inside Lacrosse has reported that the Toronto Nationals (Rattlers 1.0) are on the move as well. After leaving Rochester for Toronto two years ago, the Nationals are now moving to Hamilton, Ontario.
The Nationals franchise moved from Rochester to Toronto before the 2009 season and has taken on a Canadian and Iroquois flavor. The Nationals played their first season at BMO Field, the brand-new 20,000-seat home to MLS's Toronto F.C., averaging 3,846 fans a game (fifth in the league). Last year they moved to Lamport Stadium, a 9,600 capacity stadium in Toronto that was built in the 1970s, and averaged 3,009 fans a game, finishing fifth again in MLL attendance.

No word has been given in regards to where the Nationals will play in Hamilton, but there are a few suitable venues to choose from. Though some would surely like the team to play at Ivor Wynne Stadium, my gut says the 30,000 seater is too cavernous and expensive for the team; its AstroPlay surface would be ideal, however. Given the typical MLL attendance (and the numbers in Toronto), the 5,000 seat Brian Timmis Stadium seems to be an ideal venue, but it may be considered too small or "amateur" for the pro team. Ron Joyce Stadium seems to be the most likely candidate since it has a flexible capacity of 6,000-12,000 seats. This puts it in the same neighborhood as Marina Auto Stadium in Rochester, which makes sense for this league.
This move puts the team halfway between Toronto and Buffalo, which means there is strong potential to draw lax fans from both cities in addition to the Hamilton residents. The team will also be significantly closer to the Six Nations, which will definitely tap into one of their core audiences and bring the league closer to the sport's roots and the team's namesake.
Time and time again the city of Hamilton has appealed to the NHL as a possible expansion/relocation city. The acquisition of the MLL franchise might work well for the city in its attempt to prove worthy of an American major league franchise, outside of the Canadian Football League. Granted the MLL is small potatoes compared the hockey league, but this is still a step in the right direction.
Placing a team in a city like Hamilton is also a great move for the MLL as it struggles to find its footing. Whereas most professional leagues (this one included) seem to target the same cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, moving to mid-size "minor league" markets allows fan bases to develop without competition from the more established teams in Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and Arena Football League. Hamilton, Rochester, Annapolis, and Long Island all bit this bill nicely. Through the Machine's travels this past season, we learned that the league is already looking at similar markets in Columbus, Cary, Albany, and Virginia Beach. While Denver and Boston remain as the only successful major markets in the league, it will be interesting to watch how future expansion efforts proceed.

Rochester MLL Update

In yesterday's post about a potential Kansas City MLL team I mentioned that the league will return to Rochester this season. Inside Lacrosse is reporting that the move of the Machine to Rochester is all but official and an announcement is expected sometime before Thanksgiving. Stay tuned...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pro Lax in Kansas City?!

For those of you that don't know me too well, I am a big soccer fan. I have followed MLS for a very long time and have been a so-so Fire fan since around 2000 or so. With Kansas City being half the distance from Des Moines, I toyed with the notion of switching allegiances* to the Wizards. After visiting KC over the summer and seeing their glorious new stadium, my mind was pretty much made up.
Last week the team's owners, OnGoal, announced that the Wizards were being renamed to begin a new chapter in their spanking new home this season. The result of the rebrand was Sporting Kansas City. While most long time fans plan to continue using the Wizards moniker (myself included), the "Sporting" comes from "sporting club," a popular naming style in Europe. European sporting clubs are typically over a century old and feature teams in other sports along with their more famous soccer teams (alternatively known as Athletic Clubs).
True to this, OnGoal has laid out plans to incorporate other sports under the Sporting Kansas City banner. Like the MLS team, the new clubs would play their games at the soccer team's brand new stadium, which opens this season. Rugby and lacrosse were two sports that were repeatedly identified by OnGoal. As Major League Lacrosse is the only professional field lacrosse league, it makes sense that OnGoal is referring specifically about an expansion franchise.
You may recall my MLL Expansion series. In that series I identified Red Bull as an organization that might pursue this type of ownership/expansion to maximize use of their stadium, Red Bull Arena. This set up would be similar to the company's Salzburg operations only a lacrosse club would be substituted for the hockey team.
Based on OnGoal's description of their brand identity and future plans, this is how I expect the SKC lax team to work out as well. The new lax team would incorporate the SKC color scheme, name, and elements from the crest. A proper nickname may be given immediately or developed by the fans over time. The logo would have some differences as OnGoal said the crest is specifically assigned to the soccer team.
On the same note, rumors keep popping up about a return of the Rochester Rattlers. The most persistent part of these rumors is that the team will be owned by the Rhinos and will play in their stadium, something else I suggested in my MLL expansion series. Just like SKC and the Outlaws (as well as Red Bull, if it happened), the new Rattlers would benefit from playing in a rent-free stadium as their venues are controlled by their owners. It seems that these owners recognize the potential long term profitability of MLL franchises, much like the original MLS owners when that league started.
Supporting the thought that expansion to KC and a rebirth of the Rattlers will happen sooner rather than later is a recent interview with MLL commissioner David Gross.

We have a very aggressive expansion plan in place. Our goal over the next decade is to grow from a 6 team league to a 16 team league. Now plans are often modified and we won’t add a team just for the sake of expansion.

In the short term, we will remain a 6 team league for the 2011 season. After being a road team last year the Machine will have a permanent home for the coming season, which we will announce next Tuesday. We will be adding two new teams for 2012 to grow to an 8 team league and should be able to announce those markets early in the New Year. We also hope to lengthen our season in 2012 from 12 games to 14 games.

According to the rumors, the "permanent home" for the Machine is in fact Rochester. Per the arrangements that kept the name and colors in the city when Toronto Nationals were born, the Machine will assume the "Rattlers" name.
It is entirely possible that one of the two teams expected to be included in the upcoming announcement will be Sporting Kansas City. The city has a strong and continually growing lax scene that would only become more fueled by a professional team. The fanbase would be regional with laxers throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and even Iowa attending games and team sponsored tournaments. Without an NCAA D1 program in our region, the MLL team would have the potential to create an unrivaled top tier camp in the Great Plains.
When and if this actually comes to fruition remains to be seen. Hopefully OnGoal will commit to this plan and create something truly specially in Kansas City...
*For the record, the Des Moines Menace are the team I cheer for above every body else on the pitch. In fact, the Menace are one of my two favorite teams in DM in any sport.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hockey Night In Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 15

It is official: The Irwins Bike & Sports hockey team is in a major downward spiral. With only three wins and eleven regulation losses so far this season, we are firmly in last place. Sadly, two of those wins came over the also struggling Funky Pickle team. The Pickle gets the edge thanks to an overtime loss.
Tonight we face Yankee Doodle Dandy Tatoo for the fourth time. While we beat YDD the first time we faced them this season, we lost the other two meetings. Yet tonight could easily go either way. Both teams are fairly even on paper.
Pentico is expected to fill in for Daniels again tonight. He played strong against Alien last week. He looked comfortable compared to the recovering Daniels and made some strong saves. Overall, the team looked solid and determined to win. If not for a few unlucky bounces, we may have been in a position to squeak out a win.
Tonight's game will take loads of concentration and focus. I know that the entire team is itching to break our losing streak. A win over YDD could spark further victories...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Equipment Poll Results

Last month I posted a couple of polls in response to some major happenings in the lacrosse world. Adidas officially became the gear suppliers for Notre Dame and Bucknell, and Easton formally entered the lacrosse equipment business. I've been meaning to get the results posted (and get the dead polls off the page), but there has been so much happening with the 2010 Box Lacrosse League and equipment reviews (not to mention hockey and my killer work schedule) that I really have not had much of a chance.
So without further ado, here are the results:

Although this sample is small, the majority of respondents approve of Notre Dame's move to Adidas equipment. The Irish had a breakout season this year with an overtime loss in the national championship game and have long been a flagship institution for Adidas apparel. With their profile raised thanks to the spectacular coverage of the NCAA finals, the Irish will serve as a marquee client for the lacrosse division as well. As the de facto team for many fans in non traditional areas, this move will push Adidas closer to the forefront of many of these laxers' minds.

The Bucknell poll is intriguing because very few of my readers are familiar with the Bison. Once again, the overall consensus is approval for the switch, but I suspect it is for a different reason than Notre Dame. Whereas supplying the Irish raises the profile of Adidas Lacrosse, the Bison's move surely benefits Bucknell. The publicity surrounding the switch might have impacted Bucknell's profile and made more laxers aware of their program. Nearly every major lacrosse blog and periodical featured the move, which came shortly after the Notre Dame announcement. Associating with such a renown brand as Adidas may pay dividends with recruits from non traditional areas...

This poll was unfairly loaded since Easton is technically the only new member of this party. Adidas and Reebok are both on their third generation of equipment. Nike is merely a rebranded STX product (and nearing its third generation as well). Very little, if anything, is expected to change with Maverik now that Kohlberg is running the show. And New Balance has done little more than increase the capital of two of the biggest lax brands - although the new Warrior cleat and shoe lines are amazing.
Given Easton's long history of high quality products in sports as varied as ice hockey, baseball, and archery, it comes as no surprise that players are looking forward to seeing their lax line. Early pictures look promising and the helmet has a lot of potential. Whether or not their lax gear lives up to the reputation remains to be seen...
The high response for Adidas is fairly surprising considering their early failures. Apparently their turn around starting with last year's John Grant Jr line and continuing through this year's 111/211/311 line is convincing people to give them a second chance. Having sampled part of this line, I have to say that the quality is light years ahead of their initial line.
To me, the Nike and New Balance votes represent the "old school" laxers that prefer the smaller "traditional" lacrosse companies. Despite the pockets of Nike and New Balance, we are essentially talking about STX, Warrior, and Brine equipment. For some people, there is no alternative.
I am simply at a loss with Reebok. Their gloves might be the best in the history of the game and the new 10k line looks even better than anything they've put out to date. Of course, they have been around for a few years and have great exposure as the supplier of the National Lacrosse League. Perhaps this longevity just removes the excitement from the brand... Then again, most of their shafts are not up to the quality of their competitors' from my experience.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hockey Night In Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 14

We played our final Sunday game of the season this weekend. Despite the 6-0 loss to the now first place Puck Hawgs, we played some of our best hockey of the season. Our puck movement was strong, our passes connecting, and our shots numerous. Unfortunately the Hawgs' goalie Hillock is a tough nut to crack.
Tonight we face a hot-cold Alien Hockey team. Since long time goalie Bast departed for Texas, Alien has used a tangent of keepers - Dan Bishop and Lisa Nissen (aka the hot chick goalie). Alien has been in a slump throughout the new keepers' tenure. Their lone win came on October 6 - against us...
We hope to carry Sunday's momentum and firepower over to tonight's game. As both Alien keepers are less experienced than Hillock (or Bast), our chances for a win are pretty high. However, we must be mindful of the aggressive Alien defense; they have the ability to strip our best players like a cop at Customs. Strong communication and positioning will be vital as we attempt to unleash a barrage at whomever is in net tonight.
On our end of the ice, Daniels is out for the evening and Pentico is in. Pentico is a capable goalie and has played pretty well for us in the past. Unfortunately we have yet to record a win with him in the net. Our blueliners will have to tighten the gap and force the Alien shooters to bad angles as they attempt to provide Pentico so breathing room. Keying in on strong puck carriers like the Dylos will be critical and should be left to our speedy centers.
Wing play could be the difference in tonight's game. If our wings are able to stay open near the blue line for quick transitions and can execute pinpoint passes like they did on Sunday, we should take this one home. Our centers seem to have a knack for creating space and getting open. As long as the wings can move the puck and pick up rebounds, the goals should begin to rack up for Irwins.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Equipment Review - Adidas John Grant Jr Stick

The most unexpected item in my Adidas box was a John Grant Jr stick. More accurately, the Henson Group sent me a JGJ shaft and unstrung head. Considering that everything else I received (shoulder pads, shoulder liners, arm pads) was from the new 111 line. The JGJ line was released last season; the Michigan Wolverines made extensive use of the JGJ en route to their third consecutive MCLA title.
As I removed the stick from the box, I could tell that it was not quite as light as the Krypto Pro that I have been using for the last two years. It was not much heavier, but noticeable. Part of that weight may have come from the beefy butt cap. Unlike the smaller tapered units on Warrior shafts, the JGJ boasts an octagonal rubber end that is over an inch long and terminates in a wide base.
The head came out of the box as a featherweight. Despite its weight, the JGJ head is fairly stiff and felt strong. I attempted to squeeze, twist, and otherwise mutilate the head before taking another step. It also boasted about a bajillion stringing holes, which proved quite valuable.

The head's shape is nothing revolutionary, but is solid and functional. The pinch is as tight as possible under current NFHS and NCAA specs. Ball retention is superb and scooping is as good as anyone could want.
My first issue with the JGJ stick came when I tried to attach the head to the stick. Usually the screw holes line up perfectly when the head and shaft are produced by the same manufacturer. Unfortunately for me, the screw hole on the stick was down the shaft about half an inch too far. No matter what I tried, the holes did not line up. However, the provided me an opportunity to test the strength of the magnesium alloy shaft. I first tried using the self drilling screw included with the head, but had no luck. I then tried a standard drill bit; it barely scratched the surface before breaking. My cobalt drill bit finally pierced the hard metal in the proper location.
Once the head was strung and mounted on the stick, I decided to weight it. It came in at less than pound: 14 5/8 oz. By comparison, my Krypto Pro with a Mojo and the same stringing weighs 13 7/8 oz. The JGJ is incredibly balanced; it is clear that Adidas designed this stick and head to be used together.
My second issue with the stick arose when I started wall balling. Most sticks have a glossy finish or graphics that provide some grip; since I despise tape, those treatments usually work perfectly for me. The JGJ stick has a satin finish that is silky smooth - there is no grip until you hit the butt end. Since the graphics are under the satin coat, they add nothing to the grip. At first this was a hindrance as my hands slid too freely, but I quickly adapted to it. Tape fans will barely notice...
I previously mentioned the strength of the stick when I broke a drill bit trying to get the head on. The practical strength is also amazing for such a light stick. I have used it in both field and box games since receiving it and have also had shorties and d-poles take open swings at it - baseball and samurai style. I have yet to see a scratch, let alone a dent. The satin coating provides aesthetic protection over the super-heroic magnesium alloy.
If not for the fact that I have become very attached to it, I probably would have come up with some far more abusive "tests" like running it over with a garbage truck...
The head performs as well as any other head. There is nothing too spectacular about its design. Stringing makes the biggest difference in regards to passing, shooting, and even cradling; as I strung it the same way as my Krypto Pro, I noticed no significant differences in this avenue. The sidewalls are fairly thin, but incredibly strong. They have some flexibility, but are not what that malleable. I would definitely put it in the same class as the best heads in its price range: 9k, Viper 2, or Evo.

Weight: 10
Strength: 10
Durability: 10
Grip: 6
Overall: 9 out of 10

Release: 9
Retention: 9
Weight: 10
Strength: 10
Durability: 10
Overall: 9.5 our of 10
Complete Stick: 9.3 out of 10

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hockey Night In Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 13

Special Sunday Edition!!!
With another huge loss on Wednesday, Irwins is now in last place. Our two wins against Funky Pickle are meaningless for the time being as the Pickle managed to make it to over time and escape with a point following a shoot out loss.
Today we face the second place Puck Hawgs. In our two previous meetings the Hawgs beat us by a combined score line of 14-3. With numerous anticipated absences today, expect more of the same. The Hawgs boast the league's best goalie and a talented offense. Scoring goals is not our strongest suit, and the Hawgs have proven to be particularly tough.
I would like to take the ice with the hope that we will win today, but the Hawgs are in second place for a reason and we are in last for a reason. This will not change my game play nor my enjoyment of the game. I will play my heart out and have fun, regardless of the outcome.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Equipment Review - Adidas 111 Shoulder Liners

In addition to the 111 Elbow Pads and Shoulder Pads, Adidas Lacrosse sent me a pair of 111 Shoulder Liners. Preferred by d-poles and players that despise full shoulder pads, the liners are generally not my cup of tea. But as I mentioned in the Arm Pad review, I am considering a switch to d-pole myself. When that happens, liners are exactly what I want to wear.
Much like the Shoulder Pads, I tried the 111 Shoulder Liners on as soon as I pulled them out of the box. Their extremely light weight made it seem more like yanking on a t-shirt than putting on a set of pads. Right away I could tell that they would definitely be in the way on the field.
The front laces make it easy to widen the protection while keeping adequate padding over the sternum. The ample Velcro straps allow plenty of room to account for barrel chests and strong upper bodies. The neck opening is large enough for an NFL line backer to wear comfortably, yet the shoulder padding sits exactly where it should.
Much like the 111 Shoulder Pads, the liners move with your body and do not ride up on your throat. They do not impair throwing or interfere with checks. Full range of motion is entirely possible while wearing the liners.
Just like the rest of the 111 line, the Shoulder Liners are equipped with Climalite. This moisture wicking fabric is amazingly functional. I never felt wet while wearing these despite the swimming pool of sweat that poured from my body. When summer time humidity rolls around, Climalite will be a blessing.
Comfort: 10

Flexibility: 10

Moisture Management: 8

Protection: 4

Overall: 8 out of 10

Since every high school and college player in the country has to wear shoulder pads, it is important to get something that suits your needs as a player. Generally, the liners are designed for defensive players, but they would work for some middies as well. While they do not offer much protection, dodging middies that are not afraid of the occasional check can certainly appreciate their maneuverability and near weightless feel.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hockey Night In Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 12

The new month provides an opportunity for a fresh start. After a massive 6-1 loss to the Puck Hawgs last week, Irwins is tied for last place with Funky Pickle. Although the website shows us below the Pickle, we hold the edge with two wins over them.
Tonight we meet first place Cup O Kryptonite for the third time. Our previous encounters resulted in a pair of 5-2 losses (1st - 2nd). I am not going to lie, the coffee guys are pretty damn good.
In order to beat Cup tonight, we will need a miracle in net. Daniels is a competent goalie, but has struggled since injuring his knee a few weeks ago. His confidence has been noticeably shaken, but his spirits remain high. If he can regain some of his form, he may be able to prevent some of the softer goals he has allowed since his return.
Our defense has long been our strongest component. Their communication and puck movement should spark our offense and relieve pressure on Daniels. Unfortunately, most of their outlet passes are choked by poor offensive placement and turn overs abound.
To counter this, the centers (Massa, N. Hrabak, and myself) continually push the wings further up in the defensive end. Last week, the wings collapsed several times which drew the three of us out and exposed our weak transition game. Instead of providing solid opening along the boards, the defensemen were left looking for a roving center to pass to. As the Hawgs continually chocked the middle, we routinely failed to clear.
Cup's defense is much more familiar with each other than that of the Hawgs. This translates into better coordination and puck control. No team in the league retains the puck in the offensive end as well as the defending champions. Breakaways are nearly impossible against this dominating team.
Unfortunately, I predict another big win for Cup O Kryptonite tonight - once again in the 5-2 neighborhood.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Equipment Review - Adidas 111 Arm Pads

When I received my box from Adidas Lacrosse, I have to admit that I was disappointed to see the 111 Arm Pads instead of the 111 Arm Guards or 211 Elbow Guards. Since I typically play attack and also play box, I was hoping for something offering a bit more in the way of arm protection. On the other hand, I have been considering playing d-pole and was excited about the potential for these pads.
I received size XL, but as soon as I pulled them on I realized they may not be big enough. The nonadjustable top strap did not want to slide over my bicep. Since I am not exactly Schwarzenegger, this is a major concern; I am unsure about more muscular D1 d-poles being able to wear this pad without some *ahem* modification.
Valley d-pole Dan Boyd tried them for half of the Orange vs White game. He praised their light weight, but said that they continually slipped off his arm due. Whether this was due to the pads' size or me stretching the strap (it is elastic, so that should not be an issue), I am not sure.
If I was a d-pole, this is the type of pad that I would prefer to wear. Unlike attack, poles rarely get repeated checks across the forearm so getting rid of the extra weight and restriction of a full arm guard would be a great idea. The 111 arm pads' ClimaLite lining, flexibility, and light weight make this pad a winner. They provide sufficient protection on falls and errant stick checks to the elbow. Full force hits are definitely felt, but again, this pad is designed for players that are rarely in the position to receive such checks.
Comfort: 7
Flexibility: 9
Moisture Management: 8
Protection: 5
Overall: 7.25 out of 10
I would recommend this pad to d-poles - especially those that park themselves on GLE. LSMs would be wise to avoid this pad as it offers virtually no protection.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Warrior Trojan 2

Lacrosse All Stars posted pics of the new Warrior Trojan 2 helmet, which the Crease Monkeys are wearing at the Hawaii Invitational.*

More Hawaii Invitational Equipment Pictures posted at Inside Lacrosse

The Trojan 2 looks better than previous Warrior helmets, yet is easily identifiable with that brand. The overall design strategy with its diamond shaped vents suggests that the rumors of a single helmet line for Warrior and Brine (both New Balance brands) are true. Much like the first Trojan and the Cascade Pro7, the visor is part of the shell and not a separate piece.
It has a pug-like look that makes me think it will not fit players with prominent facial features. The previous Trojan was noted for fitting wider heads, so that could be a positive. Time will tell how the Brine and Warrior sponsored NCAA teams react to the new helmet; overall response to the original Trojan was fairly high.**
You may recall that the previous Warrior Trojan looked very similar to multiple Cascade models. Team USA was supposed to wear the helmet in the World Championships, but ended up with Brine Triumphs instead. Allegedly, the original Trojan helmet was pulled due to trademark infringement lawsuits filed by Cascade.

*An Easton lax rep playing with the team previously informed me that he planned to wear an Easton hockey bucket with a box cage.
**Though it tended to be of the "next best thing to a Pro7" variety.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Equipment Review - Adidas 111 Shoulder Pads

Although I have been a long time fan of Adidas shoes and apparel, I have not cared much for the Adidas line of lacrosse equipment. Instead of being made by Adidas or their subsidiary, Reebok, Adidas lacrosse equipment is made under license by a third party company, The Henson Group. The original product line looked bulky and inflexible. Last year's John Grant Jr looked like a major improvement, but was too narrow in scope and too high in price for consideration.
Earlier this year, the 2011 line was launched. Much like their original product line, the 2011 line featured three levels of equipment at different price points: 111 (top), 211 (middle), 311 (bottom). Since the launch, the company has announced that they will be equipping Notre Dame and Bucknell. Adidas is also adding several MCLA squads to its portfolio alongside Michigan, who has won the last two MCLA national championships wearing Adidas equipment.
After the Notre Dame announcement, an Adidas/Henson representative contacted me about trying some equipment. Because their first generation gear was so poorly received by myself and others, I eagerly accepted their challenge. Among the items I received was a pair of the 111 Shoulder Pads.
Of course I tried the pads on as soon as I yanked them out of the shipping box. I was stunned by their extremely light weight and amazing flexibility. Just trying them on let me know that I was wearing something vastly superior in comfort to the Warrior Hitlites I had been wearing.
I first wore the shoulder pads while running a clinic to get a feel for them in action (patience is not always my best virtue). As I ran, cradled, passed, and shot, the shoulder pads moved with my body. Unlike every other pad I have ever worn, they did not creep up onto my neck or shift sideways on my shoulders. When I finally took them off, I was amazed at how wet the Climalite lining was; I felt dry the entire time.
Having passed the first test, I was very excited to test the pads during Valley's fall ball Orange vs White game last week. Once again I found the pads to be extremely light and flexible. Even with the added pressure of a game and follow through checks, the pads stayed away from my throat and let me breathe easily. I felt dry the entire night despite the pads' dampness upon finishing; the sponge-like Climalite material is simply amazing.
Since I did not get hit enough during the game to really get a feel for the pads' protection level, I convinced a d-pole to take some swings and pokes. After about a dozen hard pokes around my mid section followed by some flat out baseball swings, I got a pretty good feel for the pads' level of protection. While they are not as tough as Reebok's 9k pads, they are comparable to the Warrior Hitlites. I could feel the hits, but not to the point of pain or impediment.
As a heavier guy, I have always had a problem finding a set of pads that fit just right. My large frame made getting the right pads difficult even when I was in top shape. The 111s not only make it around my ribs, but they also sit comfortably on my abdominal area. The pads stretch with my body which allows easy breathing - unlike other pads I've worn. The capacity to stretch helps prevent the pads from creeping towards my neck. In fact, the movement of the pads is so in tune with my body that I often forgot I was wearing them!
Comfort: 10

Flexibility: 10

Moisture Management: 8

Protection: 7

Overall: 8.75 out of 10

These pads will now be my primary shoulder pads; my Warrior Hitlites have been relegated to loaner duty. I am very interested to see how their technological innovations will perform in the heat and humidity next summer. I am also interested in trying the 111 gloves and arm protection, although Lacrosse All Stars' review of the 111 Arm Guards left me weary...
Regardless, I highly recommend the 111 Shoulder Pads to most midfielders and attackmen. Hardcore dodgers may find the protection lacking, however.

Thank you, Adidas Lacrosse!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is Lax Broken?

I stumbled across this article yesterday. The author makes a strong point about the over evolution of field lacrosse to the point where it is hardly identifiable as the same game being played 30 years ago.
The midfield as a transition area of the field and also the midfielder were unique to the American field game. Both no longer exist.That player is gone, replaced by five players (long pole middie, short stick defensive middie, face off middie, clearing middie and offensive middie) whose roles have empowered the coaches and made the game impossible to watch and less enjoyable to play. The free flowing area of the field is no longer used and the free flowing aspect of the game is mostly extinct, taken over by specialists and hundreds of substitutions that create confusion where there once was mostly excitement.For 100 years the midfielder was the embodiment of the American field lacrosse game. He was the most balanced and impressive athlete on the field. He had the skills and conditioning to play the whole field. He excelled at defense, transition and offense.

This is especially true about the major power house D1 teams like Hopkins, Duke, and Syracuse. It is even starting to become the norm at the high school level, particularly in the traditional hotbed areas. For the most part Valley does not utilize too many specialists, but the Tigers do run a LSM and sub for an attacking middie. Their face off guys usually play the whole field versus being a FOGO (face off get off).
In the games original design, the weight of the stick made for natural trade offs in its size and length. If you carried a bigger stick to play defense, you HAD to be a bigger guy to carry it. It weighed more. You were not as nifty a mover as the smaller offensive players, so there was a natural trade off competitively. As we got to synthetic materials that all changed. Originally defensive plastic heads were bigger for the less skilled defenseman to handle the ball better. Defensemen soon learned that they could handle the smaller head and pocket and they got better at handling the ball. After the shaft became metal and light weight, any size athlete could handle the long stick.

Even looking over the Valley defense, you can see some of this. Although a few of the poles had some decent size, Boyd, McDougal and Mundus are definitely more on the athletic end of the equation. These defenders had decent size, but were more quick and nimble than a traditional d-pole.
At the same time this was happening the stick head was getting pinched by manufacturers. This makes it easier to hold the ball and lessens the need for skill. Power is more important and this is not consistent with the original design of the game.Since the ball will not come out of the stick, cross checking has slowly become the norm, along with heavy, wild, one arm wrap checks. Ref’s know the ball won’t come out unless you knock the snot out of a guy, so they let it go. Who’s that fun for? The skill and beauty that once defined the game is basically not required. The new bigger and stronger athlete can simply run over you and the ball is still in his pocket after you knock him to the ground.
That last little bit describes Tyler, as anyone that has played in a CILA league can attest to. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that...
Last year the NCAA changed the amount of pinch allowed; the MCLA adopted the same rules. This change was intended to open the game up more and reduce the force of the hits required to dislodge the ball. However, the change was not made at the high school, professional, or international levels.

The article is largely disjointed and lacks the same kind of free flowing pace that the author desires from lacrosse. At one point he mentions that attendance is down at the college level. He attributes this to an over emphasis on coaching, but it could just be that high school students are practicing more and playing more games. Or it could just be that more fans are staying home to watching the increasing number of games on television.
Regardless, it is an interesting read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Drake Lax Game This Friday

Drake Lacrosse will host Iowa State this Friday (10/29) at Drake Stadium. The game is schedule to start at 6:30. This is the first meeting between the Cyclones and Bulldogs outside of the CILA box league.
I will be in attendance, working in an official capacity. This will probably be the last field lacrosse event for either team before the spring. As always, admission to the game is free.
*Drake originally planned to face Cornell, but unspecified circumstances led to a change in opponent.

Hockey Night In Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 11

I missed last week's game due to some personal business, but my teammates managed to pull off a 5-4 win over Funky Pickle. Apparently there was some sort of altercation between a few players; unfortunately I do not have the details.
Tonight we face the Puck Hawgs for the second time. Last time we face them, they destroyed us 8-2. Despite my earlier speculation, this is definitely not the same team as last year. The Hawgs sit in second place behind Cup O Kryptonite with two losses - one of which was in over time.
Meanwhile, we are just one spot removed from last place by virtue of our two wins of Funky Pickle...
As much as I hate to say it, I am predicting a loss for Irwins tonight. I will do everything I can to prevent it, as will my teammates. Hopefully we can finally solve goalie Justin Hillock and stop their offense.

Monday, October 25, 2010

No Posts - Updates

There may not be any real posts for a few days. I was not home all weekend and will be finalizing the box lacrosse rosters and schedule this week. I am currently working on the Adidas 111 pads reviews and expect them to be posted this week.
I apologize for any inconvenience.
Bear With Me

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Celebrating Two Years of Lacrosse in Des Moines!

I started this blog two years ago today. I had some lofty goals back then without a real clue about how to reach them:

My goal is simple yet complex - successfully introduce lacrosse to central Iowa. Step 1 involves getting a group of guys together regularly to toss a ball and maybe scrimmage. Step 2 has us putting a team in the regional men's league (the Great Plains Lacrosse League) and squaring off against teams in Omaha, KC, Tulsa, and Wichita. Step 3 sees a high school club or two forming and hopefully playing against the Omaha HS clubs. Step 4 sees a broader youth program and a girls' program starting up. Step 5 is pure fantasy, but maybe seeing most of the metro schools with their own club teams. Step 6 is an MLL and/or NLL franchise in DM (A pure pipe dream, I know).

I ventured forth blindly with nothing but ambition guiding me. When I found out about the recently started Valley team and Tyler Nielsen's efforts to start lax, my drive only increased. As I started communicating with Tyler and Valley coach Zach Zielonko, things began to fall into place. A rough idea for the first summer league began to form. Then I was contacted by Ben Shoff at Drake and those plans gained momentum. After finally getting some sticks for Christmas, we held our first Toss Around in January of 2009.

Step One is complete.

I had hoped to field the Demons in the GPLL last year, but as I got better acclimated to the game, I realized that would not happen. We considered last year's summer pick up games, the box league, and the graduating Valley players over the winter. Ultimately we did not see enough depth to field a travel team. Then the 2010 Summer League brought waves of new players to our attention. Since many of these players will be in the metro and have expressed interest in the Demons, we are about 95% certain that the Demons will happen in 2011!
Over the course of this year's box league we will figure out dues, jersey fees, and how the team will be put together. A formal announcement will be made later this fall. Stay tuned for more information.

Step Two is in progress.

During the first Toss Around, Zach asked Tyler and me to help run Valley's practices. I started the team's website and helped with organization. The Tigers played as a junior varsity team in 2009. This spring they played at the varsity club level and finished fourth over all in the Nebraska League. A couple of weeks ago they won the Lincoln Rampage Mid-Fall Classic.

Step Three is complete.

With the arrival of more laxers, we have reached the point where we can start expanding our programs. Austin Ladd has graciously volunteered to spearhead the upcoming youth program. Although the specific details are not available, the program will start within the next month or so. CILA members also did a clinic at a recent Boy Scouts of America event at Water Works Park. We have also helped with Walnut Creek YMCA-sponsored clinics. I will run at least one clinic at the South Suburban YMCA this winter. Other groups in the metro have contacted me about starting youth lacrosse programs.

Jaacki McKinney took the reigns of the girls program at Waukee. She has built a competitive high school team that faces teams from Omaha, Kansas City, and other cities in our region. Other girls and women in the metro have expressed interest as well.

Step Four is nearly complete.

As Valley's program continues to expand, the Waukee students may be able to splinter off into their own team in a couple of years. Talks have also been held with the Activities Directors at Lincoln and Dowling. A few Dowling students currently play with Valley; more say they would be interested if a Dowling team was available. I have begun working with Lincoln students this fall with a southside high school team being the goal. We have had discussions about how this league can grow and evolve organically, yet sustainably. The burgeoning youth program(s) will help.

And the sport is spreading beyond the metro. Dubuque officially launched its program this fall. Efforts are still underway in the Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo. Sioux City has been mentioned as well, but I have not heard many specifics about their plans. Perhaps the most interesting place I've heard about is the Pella/Oskaloosa area. A few experienced individuals live in the area and are looking to start a program.

Step Five is in progress.

I am afraid that this is the closest we will come to a MLL team in Des Moines. Although the NLL is out of play, there is the possibility of a competitive box lacrosse team. However, this team will be strictly amateur. But the ultimate goal of the league is establishing a junior box lacrosse league akin to the Canadian leagues and junior hockey.

Step Six would require a massive financial windfall.

Upon reflection, I cannot believe how far we have come as a lacrosse community in two short years. Although I had hoped for some sort of summer rec program, I honestly did not believe that we would have a full blown league within our first two years. Many other more established areas do not have that luxury. As late as last September, we were unsure that the box league would even take off and now are less than two weeks from starting our second - with an additional team to boot!

The past two years have seen the creation of the Drake University team, a dedicated CILA website, a CILA facebook page, a dedicated CILA bank account (no link for that, natch!), sponsored jerseys, and a local lacrosse brotherhood. As we begin our third year, I'm looking forward to the launch of the Demons competitive/travel team, the beginning of our youth program, the continuation of our recreational leagues, and the progress of additional high school programs.

For more information on the current Central Iowa Lacrosse Association programs, please visit the Central Iowa Lacrosse Association website. Feel free to post your comments below or on Facebook, or even email me. Thank you for your support!
I would like to thank the following people for everything they have done to help support the growth of lacrosse in Des Moines: Zach Zielonko, Tyler Nielsen, Jim Burk, Jaacki McKinney, Gabe Carlson, Phil, Austin Ladd, Mark Anderson, Ben Shoff, Bill Bostwick, Cam Bostwick, Alec Sundermann, Kurt Sundermann, Dirk Arends, Chad Thompson, Tiffany Edgington, and everybody that has participated in a CILA event or league over the past two years. We would not be where we are without their efforts!

Tribe 7