The Mimico Mountaineers Jr. B lacrosse club has played its last game.
When it closed out the season in June, with a rare playoff miss, it was also – unknown to many – closing the books on the franchise which operated from 1993 to 2014.
Fortunately for Etobicoke lacrosse fans, this is a good news story: they’re moving up to Jr. A from Jr. B.
It amounts to a shake-up of junior lacrosse in the west end between two adjacent and archrival organizations - the Mimico Mountaineers and the Mississauga Tomahawks.
They’re now combining their forces. For the past few seasons Mississauga has operated clubs at the ‘A’ and ‘B’ level while Mimico has competed at ‘B’ and ‘C’.
The new partnership has Mimico taking over the ‘A’ team, Mississauga operating the lone ‘B’ team. Mimico will still field its ‘C’ development team.
The move was made possible, explained Mountaineers head coach and general manager Sean O’Callaghan because of the strength of the sport at the youth level in Mimico.
“When we started the junior B team in ’93 here in Mimico it was the right thing to do at the right time. The minor club (the Mimico Mountaineers Minor Lacrosse Club) was playing at the ‘B’ and ‘C’ level,” he said.
Now, he said, “the Mimico minor system has been developing and playing at the ‘A’ level for the last five or six years consistently from tyke right through to midget. And those players coming out of our minor system want to play at the highest level they can play at.”
League approval came only days before the final regular season game although it’s something the club had long been pursuing.
“We’ve known for about three or four years that this time was going to come where we needed to try to get into the Jr. A league, and it’s not an easy league to get into. It’s the highest level of lacrosse you can play anywhere in North America for 17 to 21 year olds in box (lacrosse),” O’Callaghan said.
It immediately sets up a natural rivalry with east-end Toronto Beaches which has a similar setup with a very strong youth organization feeding into a Jr. A team (although the latter has struggled the past few seasons).
“I think it will be great for both teams when we play there at Ted Reeve (Arena) or they play here at Mimico (Arena). It’s going to be the battle of Toronto and I think it will help both programs.”
In last month’s season and franchise finale, the Mountaineers, fittingly, honoured their all-time top offensive player, Andy Dudun who holds the franchise records in points (503), goals (178) and assists (325) which he compiled in just 77 games over three seasons (1995, ’96, ’97), amassing three league scoring titles and two MVPs.
Prior to his junior career, he began playing minor lacrosse with the Etobicoke Eclipse from tyke to first-year bantam, coming over to Mimico for second-year bantam when the Eclipse folded. After his junior career, he went on to success in the senior ranks winning the President’s Cup twice with the Kitchener Waterloo Kodiaks and playing with the Buffalo Bandits in the National Lacrosse League.
When the Jr. A season kicks off next May, his retired #33 jersey will proudly hang from the rafters of Mimico Arena.
Among the numerous Jr. B alumni are Mimico native Rory Smth who suited up this year in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) for the Buffalo Bandits. His two younger brothers also played for Mimico although they didn’t quite make it as far as the NLL, settling instead for the NHL – Brendan Smith with the Detroit Red Wings and Reilly Smith with the Boston Bruins.
Another NHL alumnus of the team is Dave Bolland who just signed with the Florida Panthers.