TRIPS BACK EAST COULD BECOME THE NORM FOR MacRae
4/10/12 12:00 AM
By Craig Rybczynski - Dan MacRae has become accustomed to traveling between Calgary and Rochester. This weekend, the former RIT standout will make the trip once again as the Calgary Roughnecks visit the Rochester Knighthawks Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of RIT Athletic Communications)
The 23-year-old defenseman knows the commute all too well after travelling out west to play home games during his rookie season in 2011. This season, however, the road trips are easier to handle after relocating to Calgary.
“It saves the long drive from Rochester to Toronto and then flying to Calgary. I am not complaining about missing that,” said the second-year pro about the nearly four-hour flight.
MacRae is one of 10 players stationed in the city of over one million people in the province of Alberta. That camaraderie off the turf has propelled the Roughnecks into the top spot in the NLL. Calgary has won six straight games to race past Colorado and into first place in the West Division with an 11-3 record. This season, MacRae has played in all 13 games and has eight assists and 58 loose balls.
On Saturday, he will return to the city he called home for four years when his team plays in Rochester against the Knighthawks. He expects some support from his hometown of Oakville, Ontario, and from his alma mater, RIT. The Tigers will try to catch the 7:30 p.m. game after playing Vassar in Poughkeepsie, NY at noon.
“I’ve got a few caravans filled with family members making the trip,” said Dan, who will also have some Roughnecks jerseys with him to hand out. “I know the men’s lacrosse team has an away game, but they’ll be trying to get back and make up some time.
“I don’t know if they will make it for the whole game, but I am looking forward to catching up with them afterward,” he added. “It is definitely a weekend I am looking forward to.”
If his family and friends miss his game in Rochester, they will have 14 chances to see him this summer. MacRae plans to play for the Hamilton Nationals of Major League Lacrosse after being drafted by the Nats in the 16th round (127th overall) of the 2012 MLL Supplemental Draft. At RIT, he was a two-time Division III All-American selection. In 2010, he anchored a Tigers’ defense that allowed 8.80 goals per game. He was named MVP of the Empire 8 Men’s Lacrosse Championship and was a two-time First Team All-Empire 8 selection (2009 & 2010). The 2012 season will mark his return to the field game after taking the 2011 summer off.
“I am starting to miss the field game a little bit. I play long pole and it’s nice to have that extra reach when you have these fast guys buzzing around,” he said. “It’s not that far from my hometown and it will be nice to play with guys I know from the box game. It is a pretty good honor to be selected by them.”
MacRae will join Roughneck teammate Geoff Snider and NLL stars such as Brodie Merrill, Cody Jamieson, Joe Walters, Kevin Crowley, Garrett Billings and Rhys Duch to name a few. Snider, who has played in the MLL for the past five seasons, has given the youngsters some pointers on the outdoor pro game.
“Me and Geoff talk all the time about it,” said MacRae about hanging out with Snider in Calgary. “He’s excelled at both sides of the game. He fills me in on the differences between the two leagues. He talks to me about what exactly to expect with the travel. He has been a great mentor.”
The Nationals will open the 2012 season against the Denver Outlaws, on Saturday, May 5th at INVESCO Field at Mile High. Hamilton makes its home debut on Friday, May 18th with an 11:00 a.m. contest against the Chesapeake Bayhawks at Ron Joyce Stadium at McMaster University. For ticket information, contact the Nationals Ticket Office at (905) 768-2225.