On Pace to play in NLL
A stint with Canada’s under-17 national box lacrosse team helped bring Alex Pace to St. Catharines.
“Sean Allen was one of the coaches and he coached here in my first two years,” the 21-year-old Halifax native said. “There’s a bunch of other guys who were also on that team, so that sort of got me the connection to play in Ontario.”
Pace is now in his fourth and final season with the St. Catharines Athletics junior A lacrosse team and he’s also going into his fourth year at Brock. He has been a member of that university’s field lacrosse team for three seasons already.
He knows his junior boxla days are winding down.
“We are looking ahead here and I don’t want to think about that in the middle of it,” the 6-foot-1, 185-pound defender said. “But it definitely creeps up on you quick.”
He feels he has made steady improvement during his time in St. Catharines.
“I’ve been switched to be a defensive player the last couple of years and I’ve been learning the game. Coming from Halifax, it’s quite a change in the level of competition,” he said. “I’ve gained more experience and grown in that way.”
He describes himself as a physical, matchup style of player.
“I like to have a game within a game and compete every shift with the guy that I am going against.”
Athletics head coach Steve Toll is a big fan of Pace.
“He has been unreal,” he said. “Pacer is a guy that is going to go high in the NLL draft this year. I’ve been here for two years and he seems to be getting better every single game.”
Pace brings plenty to the table for the A’s.
“He has gotten a lot stronger this year and, on and off the floor, the kid is a true leader,” Toll said. “He takes care of all the young kids and his house is where they all meet and hang out.
“He is going to go far and I would take a guy like Alex on my team all day long.”
Pace is more than happy to share his house with his teammates.
“I miss home but it’s definitely a fun time,” he said. “It’s good to have a place where all the boys can hang out and it’s a good time.”
It’s also a good time on the floor where he draws the tough assignments.
“We match him up with the best players on the other team all the time and he works hard and meets the challenge,” Toll said. “He has done everything we have asked since I have been here.”
This season, Pace was selected to be an assistant captain on the team.
“But I have always been a leader in the room and it doesn’t matter if you have a letter or not,” Pace said. “We have a team full of leaders so it doesn’t really matter.”
That being said, he was honoured to be chosen as an assistant captain.
“It felt good to be recognized, but I will continue to do what I’ve done the last three years.”
He has a varied style of leadership.
“I try to be vocal when we need it, but I lead by example as well,” he said. “I show up every day and work hard.”
He’s hoping that work will pay off and get him to the next level.
“I am going to hopefully see where it will take me and I want to play at the next level.”
Bur first, there’s a lot of work to be done yet this season.
“We have been building with the core group of guys we have for the last four years and we are now 20- and 21-year-olds,” he said. “Everyone knows what is at stake and everyone is working towards the same goal.
“It’s a good vibe in the room and we are a real close-knit group.”
Pace had a goal and six points in 15 games with the A’s this season heading into Wednesday’s game against Peterborough. He went pointless as the A’s won 17-1. St. Catharines sits in first place in the league with an 12-4 record.
The A’s lost 13-8 to the Kitchener Waterloo Braves Tuesday night. Leading the offence for St. Catharines in the loss were: Alex Simmons, two goals and three assists; Kealan Pilon and Jake McNabb, one goal and three helpers; Sam LeClair, two goals and an assist; and, Carter Zavitz and Tyler Brown, single goals.
The A’s also beat the Mimico Mountaineers 8-4 last Sunday. Simmons potted a hat trick, Zavitz netted a pair and single goals were notched by McNabb, Rylee St. Onge and Braydon Mayea.
A’s 17 Lakers 1
BPSN Star of the Game: St. Catharines’ Kealan Pilon with four goals and six assists.
For the St. Catharines Athletics: Goals by Pilon (4), Alex Simmons (4), Jake McNabb (4), Carter Zavitz, Sam LeClair, Kyler Kilgour, Bradley Fannell and Saul Van Der Zalm.
For the Peterborough Lakers: Goal by Owen Hiltz.
Up next: The A’s are at Orangeville Friday.