Editor’s note: LaxAllStars is excited to be at the 20th Ales Hrebesky Memorial Tournamentin Prague this year, and we’ve asked sports broadcaster Andy McNamara to help us cover the event. Andy is onsite and will keep us updated on all the great action from the tournament to LAS Readers over the next several days. Welcome Andy!
20th Ales Hrebesky Memorial Tournament Begins April 24
20 Teams from 13 countries Battle for the Championship
By: Andy McNamara
[Pictures courtesy of Ales Hrebesky Memorial Tournament Facebook page]
This edition of the prestigious “Ales Hrebesky Memorial” (AHM) is extra special because it is the 20th anniversary of the international box-lacrosse tournament. 20 teams from 13 different countries will be featured in beautiful Prague, Czech Republic from April 24-27.
Canada and the United States are the traditional lacrosse powerhouses in the world; however, the pressure is getting turned up as other countries continue to get stronger. England, Poland, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, Israel, France, Scotland, and Ireland are all well represented.
The event began back in 1994 to honor Czech native Ales Hrebesky who was tragically killed by a drunk driver in 1993 while waiting at a bus stop.
At 21-years old, Hrebesky was an incredibly gifted lacrosse player that also exceled at hockey and gymnastics. His local lacrosse team, LCC Radotin, started the memorial tournament for their fallen teammate, and it has grown into the most popular lacrosse gathering in Europe.
Doug Luey, general manager and head coach of Canada’s Clarington Green Gaels, is thrilled to be heading back overseas once again.
“The hospitality and energy they put into this tournament is amazing. Anyone that has ever been involved in lacrosse needs to put a trip to Radotin (suburb of Prague) during the Ales Hrebesky Memorial on their bucket list.”
The Green Gaels are two-time tournament champions and one of four Canadian contenders looking to dethrone the 2012 winning Boston Megamen.
Boston will be seeking their fourth AHM title and certainly have the fire power to do it. A strong veteran presence brings experience from the Professional Lacrosse League (PLL) and North American Lacrosse League (NALL).
Participating in their eighth tournament as a team, the Megamen will introduce some rookies while leaning on the experience of Scott Prestridge, Brian Bendig, Dave Shortt and Andrew Wasik.
One of the up and coming clubs hails from Ireland. The Dublin Riggers “Tropical Edition” have played in the memorial since 2006 and are looking to improve on their highest placing of fifth.
“Everything about this tournament is top notch and every year with the Riggers we form a group that likes to play hard on and off the floor,” Dublin’s No. 16, Michael Kennedy enthusiastically explains. “We’re bringing a proper squad of 21 so I’m definitely hoping this year we can be even better.”
One of the key AHM organizers is Ondrej Mika who is impressed with the ongoing development of participating squads.
“We can see progress of all countries. When a new country comes for the first time it is usually only a few players that join another nation. They taste the atmosphere and then the next year a complete team comes. Like Poland this year,” says Mika. “I see great box-lacrosse advancement in Germany thanks to Jamie Plunkett’s efforts. It is great that more countries are getting involved in the game at a serious level.”
Extensive time and commitment goes into planning this multi-day event, which includes grandiose opening/closing ceremonies, an all-star game, a gala, and for the 20th anniversary a special rematch of the 1994 final.
Mika describes the effort involved, “there are about 25 people running the game clock, keeping statistical records, handling ticket sales and vendor booths, as well as keeping the venue clean.” Mika continues, “many local club lacrosse players of all ages also help to prepare the arena leading up to and during the four days.”
With 20 teams involved the match-play will be fast and furious to squeeze everyone in. Round-robin games are two 15-minute halves with the clock running at all times except during the last two minutes of each contest.
The semi-finals follow the same format except there are three 12-minute periods. The championship finals take a more traditional stopped time approach with three 12-minute periods. Otherwise Federation of Indoor Lacrosse (FIL) rules apply.
Michael Kennedy of the Dublin Riggers comments, “the tournament is definitely demanding. Shorter games mean that players have to go all-out every second they are on the floor. As soon as one contest is done, we check the schedule and prepare for the next one.”
The eight-year defender concluded by saying, “it’s also all about doing the work in the gym in the months and weeks before the AHM. Hydrating during the games is very important too, especially with the spring heat that Prague can experience.”
Andy McNamara is the voice of the National Lacrosse League’s Toronto Rock and will be doing the play-by-play commentary for the 20th Ales Hrebesky Memorial tournament. Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyMc81