by Sam Laskaris

After almost a two-year wait, lax action has returned for the Brooklin Lacrosse Club. The squad will play its first game in 726 days on Tuesday night when it squares off against the Cobourg Kodiaks. That contest will be part of the Major Series Lacrosse Classic, which was announced by league officials last week. Five of the six clubs in the MSL will participate in the tournament, which begins Tuesday and continues until Aug. 26. All matches will be staged at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville.

In May of this year it had been announced there would be no 2021 MSL season because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also wiped out the entire 2020 campaign.

Brad MacArthur, who doubles as the Brooklin head coach and general manager, said MSL commissioner Doug Luey and Oakville Rock president Jamie Dawick were two of the driving forces who kept hopes alive for some sort of return to action this year. And then, about a week ago, reps from other franchises, including MacArthur, got together to hash out the details for a five-week tournament.

The three-time defending MSL and national Mann Cup champion Peterborough Lakers opted not to be involved, in part since none of their games would be held in their home rink and also because several of their star players have other playing commitments this summer.

Besides Brooklin, Cobourg and Oakville, the MSL Classic will include the Six Nations Chiefs and the league’s Owen Sound entry, formerly the Brampton Excelsiors.

“I’m ecstatic,” MacArthur said of the fact there will be some MSL matches this year. “But it’s a lot of work in a short period of time.” MacArthur and other general managers throughout the league had only about a week to prepare their rosters.

MacArthur will have plenty of decisions to make as more than 40 players who are Brooklin property registered to take part in the tournament. He anticipates plenty of roster shuffles from game to game so he too can see how players from the franchise perform.

All five MSL entrants will play each other team twice, resulting in an eight-game schedule. Though standings will be kept, there will be no champion declared and no playoff matches will be staged. “This is about getting the guys on the floor and giving our young guys an opportunity to see the elite level of play in Major Series,” MacArthur said. “It’s always nice to get out there and compete.”

The Brooklin squad last played a game on July 31, 2019. Brooklin defeated Six Nations 11-9 in its regular season finale that season.

Plenty of new faces will be donning jerseys for the Brooklin squad in the MSL Classic. MacArthur said some of the team’s regulars are unavailable for the tournament due to work commitments or personal reasons.

But many of the Brooklin draft picks from 2020 and 2021 as well as protected players from both years will be suiting up for the squad throughout the tournament. Joining them will be some players who have previously toiled for the Oshawa-based Merchants Lacrosse Club, Brooklin’s Ontario Series Lacrosse (Senior B) affiliate.

MacArthur anticipates some high-calibre play at the event, even though his club will be unable to stage a team practice beforehand.

Brooklin Lacrosse Club schedule for the 2021 Major Series Lacrosse Classic. All games begin at 8 p.m. at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville. All games begin at 8pm. 

July 27 vs Cobourg

July 28 vs Six Nations

August 3 vs Owen Sound

August 10 vs Cobourg

August 11 vs Oakville

August 17 vs Six Nations

August 25 vs Owen Sound

August 26 vs Oakville