Forward has a ball playing in off-season

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

Manitoba Moose fans know Alexandre Burrows as a guy who puts the work in work ethic.

Little did they know that Burrows doubles as a goal-scoring machine during the summer months as a member of the Montreal Red Lite, the four-time defending Canadian ball hockey champions and 2003 world champs.

What began as a nice way to spend time with his childhood pals and stay in shape with a serious cardiovascular workout has become a great way to see the world.

"I've been playing with my friends for the last five years," said Burrows, who became a valuable member of the Moose after starting the season in the ECHL with the Columbia Inferno. "It's fun to play and it keeps me in shape too. I like playing with my buddies back home that I grew up playing minor hockey with, that's what it's all about. It's great fun."

The great fun began as the Canadian pastime of street hockey but eventually ball hockey became more popular and Burrows and his buddies started hitting the tournament circuit. Before they knew it, the Red Lite were having success on both the national and international levels.

"It's body contact too, so you've got to keep your head up," said Burrows, who had nine goals, 26 points and 107 penalty minutes in 72 games with the Moose this season. "We like moving the ball around and there are a few different rules than ice hockey. You can't glide out there. You're allowed to make two-line passes and the (offensive) blue-line becomes the red-line after you gain the zone. It's different handling the ball and the puck."

Burrows' travels have taken him as far away as Sierre, Switzerland and he's lined up against the likes of NHLers Dominik Hasek, the Gumby-like goalie who played for the Czech Republic, and Arturs Irbe, who played for his native Latvia.

"For the final game, there were 4,000 fans," said Burrows, who had five goals and 10 points to tie for the scoring lead at the worlds, where Canada defeated the Czechs 6-1 in the gold medal game. "It was funny. (Hasek) wasn't that good of a player and he didn't take a regular shift but it was fun seeing an NHL guy there. Same for Arturs Irbe, but I think we beat them (Latvia) 22-0."

Burrows will travel to the 2005 world championship in Pittsburgh with the Red Lite later this summer, but for now, he's got his mind set on continuing his strong play against the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League North Division final. The series opens Wednesday at Blue Cross Arena.

Though he's been used on a variety of lines during the regular season, Burrows was at his best on the Moose energy line with Nathan Smith and Jimmy Roy in the opening round series against the St. John's Maple Leafs.

The trio did an excellent job throughout, playing the body and drawing penalties. They also made a solid offensive contribution as Nathan Smith had two goals and two assists, Roy had a goal and an assist and Burrows had a pair of assists.

"(Burrows) is back to the way he was playing at the start of the year -- he's getting shots on net and is being an agitator, in your face and finishing hits," said Roy, who has played ball hockey himself. "Ball hockey is way tougher (cardio workout) than regular hockey because you've got to keep running all of the time. Ice hockey is more short bursts and finding holes. You can't do that in ball hockey, if your feet stop moving, you're standing still.

"I enjoyed it when I played, but sometimes it gets a bit too intense for me in the summertime when you want to relax."


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