For years the Ridge Meadows Minor Lacrosse Association has seen its most talented players leave the local club to play for elite level teams elsewhere. Without an Intermediate A or Junior A franchise, players had little other option.
However, with the awarding of the Maple Ridge Burrards Intermediate A franchise this season, and a Junior A team looking increasingly realistic, the local association appears poised to complete its development ladder, from tyke to senior men’s.
“We’re the third biggest association in the Lower Mainland, but we’ve never had a place for elite athletes to go,” says Dave Bailuk, president of the new Maple Ridge Burrards Intermediate A team. “A lot of them quit, some go to PoCo, some go to Langley.”
But Bailuk says the local talent this year was too good to ignore, and the new team hopes to be near the top of the standings in its first season.
Last season, the Burrards midget team won the B.C. championship. The majority of that team will be playing for the Burrards Intermediate A squad, along with many other local Intermediate A players who have opted to come home and play for their new hometown team.
“Everyone is really excited about this team,” said Bailuk.
As the top lacrosse league in the province for players aged 16 to 18, the B.C. Intermediate Lacrosse League is a stepping stone to the Junior A ranks, as well as the NCAA, Western Lacrosse Association, and the National Lacrosse Association.
“A lot of kids in this league are gearing up to get scholarships,” said Bailuk. “This league is a showcase of the best talent in the province, so it is heavily scouted.”
With the Intermediate A franchise now in place, there is only one gap in the Burrards development ladder: a Junior A franchise.
Bailuk said the local organization had their application rejected for a team this year, but he hopes the
“We are going to apply every year until we get it,” he said. “They’ve told us it could be a couple of years, but I’m hoping it will be sooner than that. We have the talent, and we have the support.”
• The Maple Ridge Burrards Intermediate A lacrosse team plays its first home game April 27 at Planet Ice at 8:30 p.m.