Last week, the East Coast Junior Lacrosse League announced they will be holding their annual male and female Draft Combine at Scotiabank Centre on Feb. 4.
“Every time we speak with community members about the growth of lacrosse in Atlantic Canada, there is a genuine excitement for where things are headed,” said Thunderbirds President & CEO, John Catalano. “We are excited to return to our in-person grassroots initiatives more and more as things get back to where they were in year one.”
Players born in the year 2006 are invited to register for the event, where they will have the chance to be scouted by the ECJLL’s teams.
Formed in 2004, the ECJLL has been the premier Junior A Lacrosse League in the Maritimes, helping to further develop the up-and-coming talent in the province and on the East Coast as a whole.
The league also added a female division, which just wrapped its first summer of play in 2022.
“I think that the ECJLL for many Nova Scotian kids was seen as the pinnacle of what they could accomplish in lacrosse. After 21, they put the stick away and forgot about it until their kids picked it up,” said Mitch Hannigan, Deputy Commissioner of the ECJLL. “Now with Nova Scotia Privateers, we have given them the opportunity to continue playing. This kept so many seniors engaged that they just started giving back. Now every junior team is coached by people who have played the game at a higher level and we all want to give those kids the opportunities and experiences we had playing in other leagues, at home.
“Now, we’re seeing the rest of the country take notice of our players. Jack Dulong plays for the Sackville Wolves, he also happens to be a member of team Canada. The ECJLL was once the ceiling for these players, now they’re seeing it as a stepping stone to improve their NLL draft chances.”
The league has a proven track record of helping players take the steps necessary to make it to the top levels of the sport. There are currently three National Lacrosse League players hailing from Nova Scotia that played in the ECJLL during their respective junior careers.
Alex Pace and Jordan McKenna both hail from Halifax while Brett Draper is from Dartmouth.
“Seeing those three succeed is something that unites our local lacrosse community. As coaches, we get to tell our players that their dreams are possible because these three accomplished it,” Hannigan said.
"They show these kids firsthand the determination it takes on and off the floor to play in the NLL. Nova Scotia kids feel represented seeing these guys in the NLL.”
For Hannigan and the ECJLL, the opportunity to have the next wave of lacrosse talent showcase their abilities at The Nest, on the Thunderbirds’ turf, is an extremely exciting opportunity.
“What was once a niche community in the province has now become a real (lacrosse) community and we have Mr. Styres to thank for that,” Hannigan said. “I used to get asked, ‘what I was fishing for?’ When walking to play wall ball with my goalie stick. Now, people ask, ‘are you a Birds fan?’
“We have always worked hard to establish ourselves as a lacrosse community in Nova Scotia, but we couldn’t dream of what growth and opportunities our own NLL team would bring. The opportunity for these kids to share the same turf as Jammer and Hoss is like our own field of dreams movie,”
For information on how to register, Click Here
The combine will take place ahead of the Thunderbirds’ home contest against the Calgary Roughnecks, which will wrap up a two-game homestand at The Nest.