All in the family
It’s no surprise Kyler Kilgour grew up immersed in the game of lacrosse.
With a father (Darris Kilgour) in the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame and two uncles, Rich and Travis, also well-known players, Kyler didn’t seem to have a choice.
“I was pretty much born with a stick in my hand since I was little,” Kyler said Monday as the St. Catharines Athletics defeated the Toronto Beaches 11-6 at Jack Gatecliff Arena. “Everybody in the family played, even on my mom’s side, so I grew up on the game.”
While Kyler doesn’t remember his dad playing in the National Lacrosse League, he does have recollections of him coaching the Buffalo Bandits and watching his uncles play.
“It was a pretty cool experience when my dad was with the Bandits,” he said.
Kyler, a 21-year-old resident of Sunburn, N.Y., feels those genes have had a good deal to do with his success.
“It helps a lot. It just runs in the blood,” he said.
But as far as father/son post-game chats — Darris is currently the coach of the Seneca WarChiefs of the First Nations Junior B Lacrosse League — Kyler said that’s not the norm.
“Lately, my dad and I are butting heads,” he smiled. “He’s been trying to egg me on.”
Kyler joined the Athletics five seasons ago and quickly established himself as a reliable, versatile player.
“I’m all over the place. I’m on both sides of the lineup,” he said. “I’m just a role player who is trying to do my best.
“If they tell me to go offence, I go and try and get a couple of points and make some things happen whether I’m on the power play or not. If I’m on D, then I have to play mean and stop people.”
Kyler admits it’s not always easy to swing back and forth.
“It is difficult. It can throw you off. The other day we had a long D meeting before the game and then they told me I was playing offence,” he said. “I’ve learned over the years to prepare myself and bring different assets to the game. I prepare myself for both ways each night.”
Assistant coach Ian Rubel, who previously coached the A’s with Darris Kilgour, said the club doesn’t take Kyler’s versatility for granted.
“It’s huge for us, especially at this time of the season,” Rubel said. “We have so many guys away and the fact we have a guy like that we insert into an offensive position or a defence position is huge for us.
“We’ve been using midgets and junior B’s so to have a guy who can play both ends of the floor is a big part of our success.”
Rubel remembers Kyler as an offensive player when he broke into the junior A ranks five years ago.
“He made the team as an offensive player but met with us and told us he preferred defence which shocked me because he shoots the ball so well,” Rubel said.
With only eight regular season games remaining, Kyler admits he’s begun to think about life after the A’s.
“It’s crazy to think it’s five years. It’s just went just like that,” he said. “It even flies by when the season is going. I want to savour every moment as long as I can.”
He has high hopes of prolonging his career with a long playoff run.
“We have a really good group of guys in the room who are tight together and hang out together even when things aren’t going out way. We just stick together and we can snap out of it.
“We all love being around each other.”
Sunday, Kyler suited up for Six Nations in Major Series Lacrosse where he netted two goals and three assists in an 11-8 win at Coburg.
“It was fun. I grew up watching Cody Jamieson,” he said. “It was unreal. I grew up watching those guys. I had a good game and I had a lot of playing time.”
Kyler picked up two assists Monday as the A’s won their fourth straight to improve to 9-3 in Ontario Lacrosse Association junior A action.
Kealan Pilon paced St. Catharines with four goals while Jake McNabb added three. Carter Zavitz added a goal and four assists while Mason Kamminga, Brayden Mayea and Rylee St. Onge also scored.
The A’s host Six Nations Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
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