Regular season Boston Cannons teammates Jordan Burke and Kevin Buchanan will not be playing on the same side of the field this Thursday at the 2014 MLL All-Star Game, but there is one thing they will still agree on: this game this season will be different.
The All-Star Game will showcase Team MLL taking on the US Men’s National Team set to compete in the FIL World Lacrosse Championship in Denver in July. Burke, who is the backstop for a Cannons defense that boasts the second fewest goals allowed in the League will be tending goal for the All-Stars, while Buchanan, currently sitting pretty atop the League’s leaderboard with 24 goals this season, will don the red, white, and blue.
“This year’s going to be a little bit different because we’ve got Team USA battling the MLL All-Stars,” Buchanan prefaced. “It’s going to be a great show of lacrosse.”
But what makes it different than other years is that more than bragging rights within the League are on the line. “Guys are maybe still on the bubble when it comes to Team USA, or are still fighting for spots, so, it’s definitely going to be a little bit more of a serious game than a typical All-Star Game.”
Burke, who slipped through the Team USA selection process, agrees. “It’s a little bit more intense than just another All-Star Game. Obviously, Team USA guys are trying to get ready for the World Games and a lot of the MLL guys want to give them a good run.” Then, with some thought, he added: “And there’s also some pride and maybe a little bit of a chip on everyone’s shoulder. Most of Team MLL is guys that went through the USA process and didn’t make it all the way through. So, there’ll definitely be a little bit of a chip on everyone’s shoulder. It’ll be a competitive game.”
The last time stakes were this high was in 2010, when the MLL All-Stars took on the then Men’s National roster. The final score favored Team USA, but only by a single point.
“I would expect another close game, another hard fought game,” Burke said, assuredly. “I mean, obviously this is a really talented League, but I don’t think there’s much of a drop off between us and Team USA… I think there’s going to be talent all over the field. It’ll be a close game again, that’s for sure.”
Buchanan agreed, but wasn’t shy about who he was rooting for. “I mean, I’m hoping—being on the Team USA side of things—that we come out on top. This is a big game for us, this is a big time for us to grow and come together as a team as the World Games are only a couple of weeks away. So the game is important, it’s key. And I’m hoping to see us jell together and obviously hold the ball out of the net in the defensive end and score quite a bit.”
One thing the two Cannons can’t agree on, however, is who will be the more profitable on the field against the other.
When asked how many shots he plans on ripping past his regular season goaltender, Buchanan cracks a smile and a wisecrack. “Burkey happens to be my favorite person to score on. I don’t get many opportunities to score on him in legit comptetition—I mean, we keep stats in practice—but yeah, I can’t wait to smoke some by him this week. I think he knows where I like to shoot, so, I’ll have to mix it up.”
But Burke begs to differ, though. “Bucky, he… he hasn’t really scored too much on me in practice this year,” the net-minder revealed. And when he learned that Buchanan keeps stats from their personal practice matchups he laughs. “That’s because he can count his goals on one hand, so it’s easy to remember for him.”
Watch Burke and Buchanan battle this Thursday as members of Team MLL and Team USA at the MLL All-Star game at Harvard Stadium. Tickets are still available,
HERE. If you can’t make it to Boston, the game will be broadcast LIVE at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on CBS Sports Network, so be sure to tune in!