Ask five different lacrosse fans what the most important aspect of their favorite sport is and you’ll get five different answers.
Some will say offence, some defence, some goaltending, some conditioning, and others that everything is equally important.
Ask Syracuse Stinger Ken Alexander what he considers to be the most important part of the game and he’ll answer, “HITTING.”
Considered one of the Stingers’ steadiest players, Alexander played the first 29 games of the season for the team before being forced to sit out with a badly bruised ankle that required a cast.
“It’s tough to have to sit on the sidelines after being a part of the team from its inception. But I guess everything has its good points and while sitting out I was able to assess the game in a completely different way. I think I learned a lot in the two games I missed,” said Alexander.
A native of Vancouver, Alexander’s move to central New York has given him a chance to display his box lacrosse abilities, especially in the style of Stinger coach Medo Martinello.
“Ken has never given me less than 125 per cent,” said Martinello. “He never stops checking and on defence constant crosschecking is really important. I don’t have a count, but I know Ken’s been responsible for a lot of the other team’s turnovers.”
When asked about the contact part of box lacrosse, Alexander says: “Hitting’s great! It’s part of my job and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t like it. I’ve got to keep my opponent off balance enough so he won’t get a decent shot on net. And crosschecking is the way to do it.”
Alexander’s aggressiveness is evident to everyone. In his first 30 games Ken spent just 43 minutes in the penalty box. “You just have to call Ken a real pro,” said teammate Jim Higgs. “All the other hitters in the league seem to pile up the penalty minutes, but Ken knows his job is staying on the floor. He’s brought box lacrosse defence to where it should be.”
One of the big differences between the early season Stingers and the late season club is the hitting. The strengths of Alexander, Russ George, Jim Miller and the other team members have meant a lot in the victory column. “Everybody’s checking constantly for us,” said Alexander.
At 27, Ken Alexander has been involved with lacrosse for 21 years. His lacrosse history includes five years of coaching so his understanding of the total team play might be considered above average.
“I dig defence, but I’ve got all the respect in the world for the guys who score a lot or stand in front of the net for you. Box lacrosse, probably more than any other sport, is a real team effort. To me, it’s the best game. In a few years, millions and millions of fans in North America are going to feel the same way. I’m sure of it,” said Alexander, “I feel it.”