(Courtesy Angus Goodleaf)
Kahnawa’kehró:non goaltender Angus Goodleaf will be suited up with the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) on December 4 for the franchise’s first game of the season.
It will be Goodleaf’s first professional lacrosse game since he suffered a cardiac arrest at the President’s Cup in Kahnawake in 2019.
“I’m sure everybody thought that I wasn’t going to play again,” he said. “It was a thought – just hang up the pads and go on with my life without lacrosse, but I figured I wanted to be an active person.”
With training camp entering its last weekend, Goodleaf is excited to finally compete in the sport he loves.
“I’m doing great,” he said.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be cleared to play, but I thought I’d at least try. Doctors gave me the green light to give ’er.”
He’s not the only one who is raring to go. December 3 will mark the first NLL play of any kind since the league cancelled part of its 2019-2020 season and the entirety of its 2020-2021 season.
“The plans to cancel last season were based on many factors, not the least of which was that our sport thrives on having fans in the stands and the energy that they bring,” said Katie Lavin, the league’s vice-president of marketing, communications, and events.
“It was one of the best shows in sports before the pandemic and will be even better now that we are returning,” she said. Games will be broadcast on TSN and ESPN.
The NLL sees no need to change plans at this time and continues to be in touch with officials. The league is ready to adjust as necessary, said Lavin.
“Hopefully, we get to a full season,” said Goodleaf. “It’s exciting. Everybody’s excited to finally get going.”
Like other sports leagues, lacrosse leagues have been hit hard by the pandemic, with some seeing no play at all in 2021.
Lacrosse Canada cancelled a number of national championships this year, including the Senior B national championship President’s Cup, for which the Kahnawake Mohawks team competes. Similarly, the Kahnawake Hunters of the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League are expected to return in 2022 after being sidelined this year.
Despite these setbacks for lacrosse, Goodleaf believes it is a growing sport, and many talented Kahnawa’kehró:non are now coming of age. The NLL itself is also growing due to better visibility with more television coverage, he said.
“I know there’s a good group of kids coming up, and they might be high draft picks, and they might stick around for a long time,” said Goodleaf. “It’s exciting for Kahnawake because we’re finally getting that exposure.”
As for the season on the horizon, Goodleaf is hopeful his team has what it takes to thrive.
“Any given night, I think any one of our offensive guys can go off for four or five goals. Our defence is young and fast, good goaltending,” he said. “I think a championship is not out of the question.”