New England Indoor Lacrosse Is Back; What Should We Know?

The National Lacrosse League, and its predecessor Major Indoor Lacrosse League, has had teams in New England in 12 of their 28 years of existence. Now heading into their 29th year, box lacrosse will be back in New England.

Tomorrow the team formerly known as the Philadelphia Wings will be announced officially as New England’s own. They were already announced to have moved to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, but it won’t be until tomorrow’s press conference that New England lacrosse fans can call them their own.

Boston had a team in 1975 in the short lived National Lacrosse League with the Boston Bolts. But it wouldn’t be until the modern day lacrosse leagues we’d see its impact.

The second indoor lacrosse team in this region was the New England Blazers from 1989 until 1991. The New England Blazers joined the league along with Detroit to be the first two expansion teams in the history of the two year old league.

The Blazers played at the Worcester Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts. In their first season they went 1-7, but in the second season they hosted a championship against the Philadelphia Wings, which they lost.

New England later moved to Boston where they played at the newly minted FleetCenter, and the TD Garden as it is now known, where they lasted until 1997 before folding. Box lacrosse would not return in Boston for over a decade.

In 2009 the Boston Blazers were an announced expansion league for the NLL. The Enterprise News did a story in 2009 about the new team and why Boston was ready for indoor lacrosse again.

“I think we are really looking for the lacrosse players and their families to be a core part of our support group,” Blazers coach Tom Ryan said. “We do think our product is something that will be attractive to just sports fans in general. It’s fast, it’s action-packed, it’s aggressive, it’s exciting, but we really are hoping to fuel the growth of lacrosse in New England.

“Over the last five years I would expect that New England lacrosse has grown as fast as anywhere across the U.S. It’s great to see 5- and 6-year-olds playing lacrosse. I think that’s a key to developing lacrosse players: guys starting early and having a team and guys to look up to. We hope we are a key component to lacrosse’s growth in New England.”

Evidently this was not the case, as the Blazers folded after the 2011 season.

There have been two indoor lacrosse teams in New England since; the Rhode Island Kingfish, who never played a single home came in the ill-fated North American Lacrosse League, and the Boston Rockhoppers, who sold out nearly every game at their 1,000 seat arena in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Since the demise of the Blazers there have been very few New England based players making it to the NLL. The old Blazers saw plenty, as did the Rockhoppers. Does the new team being based in Connecticut attract a new base?

The franchise comes from Philadelphia, a team that was the main attraction for bringing in mid Atlantic based players and was known for their American rosters, now a rarity in the NLL.

The roster already looks much different. Defenseman Brodie Merrill is gone to Toronto, likely a move that would have occurred anyways. Kyle Belton was also shipped to his hometown Langley. The team has signed forward Brett Bucktooth, and many expect that the casino based team will sign as many Native players as the Rochester Knighthawks, certainly a new identity for the team.

“We really haven’t changed our approach to Free agent camp which was successful for us last year.” head coach Blane Harrison told us about if they would be bringing in more New England based players. “However we are attracting really good players from the area by us just being there.”

The Blazers from 2009-2011 brought in players such as Chris Ajemian, Jason Duboe, Jack Reid, Sean Morris, John Ortolani, Mike Stone, Martin Cahill, Matt Smalley and Bruce Bickford, all of whom have played sparingly or no NLL lacrosse ever again.

Do we see the return of some of these players, along with more players from the Connecticut area?

New England is already a very American team with Mike Manley, Brett Manney, Kevin Buchanan, Ryan Hotaling, Eric Hoffman, Mike Poppelton, John Ranagan and many others already locked up.

The roster probably won’t have terrible turnover or see many blockbuser moves going in their favor. They might attract a few more practice players from New England and in their draft they might take Americans like Tom Schreiber and Jordan Wolf.

The main things fans should know is that New England indoor lacrosse is back, and hopefully it will stay for a long time.