The regular lacrosse season has wrapped up, but a Chestermere goalie will get some bonus floor time this summer.
Fourteen-year-old Max VanEyk has made the bantam roster for the Jr Roughnecks program as they put together three teams for the sixth annual Jr. National Lacrosse League tournament Aug. 24-26 in Oakville, Ont.
Practices are starting this week as the Alberta Lacrosse Association provincials wrapped up last weekend, so the attention turns towards the tournament where NLL teams send up-and-coming squads.
“It’s a huge opportunity for him so we’re going to take it as it goes,” said Max’s mother Beck VanEyk. “It’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like this.
“Just getting a chance to be with some of the goalies there will be a benefit. There will be some Roughnecks players there too. He wants to keep going with lacrosse so this is a good starting point to get his name out there. Who knows he could eventually make a junior tam and maybe some day eventually play for the Roughnecks.”
VanEyk, who also plays hockey but is a forward in that sport, played this season for HOKs, a mixture of kids from High River, Okotoks and the Knights organization.
HOKs went winless in the provincial tournament, so moving up to the Jr Roughnecks is going to be a good test and a change for Max.
The extra time facing shooters should also help improve his skills as he gets ready to move up to midget next season.
“With his current team, they alternate, so he might play first and third periods and the other goalie would play the second,” Becky VanEyk said. “Then they switch up for the next game. At least they get some floor time each game.
“They may not even need him to go. He will still get all the practice time and time in goal. He won’t even know if he’s going until a week before the tournament, which is tough.”
It takes a unique person to want to strap on padding and stand in front of lacrosse balls hurtling towards you at breakneck speeds. Max fell in love with it at an early age, however.
“He’s been playing goal for seven years,” Becky VanEyk said. “When he started lacrosse at age four, they just cycled through the goalies.
“When he got to novice, they were cycling through goalies but none of the kids wanted to do it anymore. He just stuck with it and ran. I don’t know how he faces some of these shots. He takes hits to the mask. He’s getting balls whipped at him at high speeds. I don’t know how he does it really, but he loves it. He’s been doing this for quite a while, the whole goalie thing.”