SEVERAL BANDITS PLAYERS ENJOYED A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE AT THE 2011 WORLD INDOOR LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIP
Features | 6/6/2011 10:05:29 AM | Michael Jafari
Chris Corbeil (Photo: Bill Wippert)

The Buffalo Bandits were well represented at this year’s FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championship as seven players made the trip overseas to compete with the best players in the world.

Buffalo had Chris Corbeil representing Team Canada while Brett Bucktooth, Tom Montour, Roger Vyse, Brandon Francis, Angus Goodleaf and Mike Thompson suited up for the Iroquois National Team in the tournament.

Unlike recent years, the tournament was held in Prague, Czech Republic, in hopes of expanding indoor lacrosse across the world. Many of the players agreed that the tournament served its purpose, and they were proud to be a part of it

“This year was cool because it was overseas,” said Montour, who recorded a goal and three assists in the tournament.  “They had quite a few fans for being overseas, and the city was really cool.  I was really surprised about how many fans showed up in the championship, because they started to beat the drum and say chants that I didn’t really understand.  It’s a real big step for the sport.  To bring the best players in the world on European soil is a great way to show the fans the sport, and to give them a show like we did is huge for box lacrosse.”

What was more intriguing to Montour was the increased competition in the tournament.  The Iroquois National Team met the Czech Republic in the semi-finals, where the Czechs surprised them with some offense.  Although the Iroquois ended up winning the game 19-6, the Czechs left a lasting impression on how much offense they put up against a superior team.

“It was pretty fun, especially in the Czech Republic, because they stepped their game up from four years ago.  They really surprised us with how many goals they scored,” Montour said.

Another player who will never forget the experience is Corbeil, as the young defenseman was selected to represent a highly skilled Canadian team in this year’s event.  Corbeil replaced Minnesota Swarm defenseman Ryan Cousins, who couldn’t make the trip due to injury.  The announcement was made after the team had selected its initial roster, and the Bandits defenseman couldn’t be more thrilled.

“When I first got the call to play for the team it was surprising because of the timing,” recalled Corbeil.  “I ended up taking the spot of Cousins. There is such a wealth of talent coming out of the Canadian ranks and so many good defenders out there playing in the pros, and to be selected at my age is a huge honor considering the talent that is out there.”

Corbeil wasn’t sure what to expect when he attended the star-studded tournament, but it was surely a different atmosphere than what the defenseman was used to.  He knew he walked into a different culture from day one, when the Canadian National Team played an exhibition game in front of a passionate crowd.

“The highlight of it all was when we played an exhibition game on the first day.  It was in a town called Grabstejn, and we played in an outdoor box lacrosse arena.  It had a small area for seating, but they had a lot of fans come out who were pounding on the drum just as the game started, and they had an organized chant like it was a soccer game.  The fans and the culture are definitely different, and it was a pretty cool experience,” Corbeil explained.

The experience was about to get better for the young defenseman, as Team Canada went on to win the gold medal. Corbeil’s squad took down the Iroquois National Team, which featured six of his Bandit teammates.

“It’s an unbelievably hard experience to put into words.  It’s for sure an honor,” said Corbeil. 

“It’s a little different with so many familiar faces on the other side, especially since I was the only Bandit representing Canada.”

The Iroquois National Team gave it all they could, but they couldn’t get past Canada’s star-studded lineup and fell 13-6 in the championship game.

“It was alright. It hurt a little bit because we really wanted to win, but placing silver is still good for our team,” said a disappointed Montour.

The tournament had its ups and downs, but both players agreed that the event benefitted all who took part in it.  Corbeil will especially remember his trip overseas, because the emerging star got to play with some of the best in the Nation Lacrosse League.

“Any experience playing with world class athletes helps,” said Corbeil.  “I learned a lot from experienced winners like Dan Dawson (Boston), Colin Doyle (Toronto) and John Grant Jr. (Colorado), which I will take with me for the rest of my career.”

What’s next for the seven players is the Major Series Lacrosse League.  Corbeil will suit up for the Brampton Excelsiors, while Montour and Vyse will battle for the Six Nations Chiefs and Thompson and Goodleaf will play with the Peterborough Lakers.  Bandit fans can follow the seven medalists, as well as other players like John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis, Tracey Kelusky and others by checking out the league’s website.

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