Final borders on 'battle of the nations'

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

A New York accent? Fuggetaboutit!

Now in his third season with the National Lacrosse League's Titans, Jarett Park is talking more and more like a Canadian.

"I say 'eh', " said Park, the Titans' all-star defender who hails from Otisco, N.Y.

"I've picked up tons of mannerisms. It's just easier to say 'eh' for me in a sentence, after somebody agrees with me or whatever. I think it's a great term."

Chalk one up for the Canucks, eh?

While about three-quarters of National Lacrosse League competitors hail from north of the border, nearly half of the Titans roster is stocked with Americans.

The Calgary Roughnecks, who host the boys from Broadway in Friday's final at the Dome, all carry Canadian passports.

Perhaps the Champions' Cup can double as a battle for national bragging rights?

Not so fast.

"To be honest, I haven't even thought about it. I'm sure nobody on our team has really thought about it," said veteran Riggers forward Kaleb Toth. "All we want to do is win a championship. It doesn't matter who we play. It could be an all-American team, we just want to win."

The Titans aren't worried about it, either, although the cross-border battle is fodder for some locker-room fun.

"There's always a guy making fun of another guy for God knows what," said transition ace Matt Alrich, who grew up in Baltimore. "It's all harmless back-and-forth stuff, but it's always fun to have a few pokes at another guy, and all that stuff builds team camaraderie. It all builds chemistry."

Must be paying off. The Titans, who finished atop the East Division with a 10-6 record and eliminated the Rochester Knighthawks and Buffalo Bandits en route to the championship game, are all speaking the same language on the floor.

American superstar Casey Powell is the key wheel in the Titans' attack, while Canadians Pat Maddalena and Jordan Hall headline the supporting cast. Park anchors the defence, while Ontario's Matt Vinc is the main man between the pipes.

"We toss around 'No borders,' in our locker-room," Park said. "Myself, and I think most guys, don't really worry about who's from where and who grew up playing the game and who didn't."

While indoor box lacrosse has long been a Canadian institution in the summer months, especially in B.C. and Ontario, it's a different story down south.

Most of the American players specialize in field lacrosse -- Park, for example, won a pair of NCAA collegiate championships at Syracuse -- and are relative newcomers to the indoor game.

"We've got a good mix," Alrich said. "The American guys can show the Canadian guys a few things ... and vice versa."


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