Now in its 31tst season, the National Lacrosse League (NLL), North America’s professional indoor lacrosse league, features the best players in the world. The league played its inaugural game in January of 1987, and was first known as the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League. In 1988, the name was changed to the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL). The MILL became the National Lacrosse League (NLL) following the 1997 season.
The National Lacrosse League plays box lacrosse, which is designed to combine the most exciting elements of box and field lacrosse. It incorporates the physical play of hockey with the high scoring, fast pace and play-making style of basketball. The game is played inside the confines of an ice hockey rink, with glass and rink boards intact. The playing surface is artificial turf, which is placed directly over the arena’s ice surface.
The NLL has 9 teams playing in the major markets of the United States and Canada. NLL teams each play an 18-game regular season schedule (nine home and nine away) that begins in January and runs through April, followed by the Champion’s Cup Playoffs. All games are played on the weekends.
Twenty-five goals are scored in the average NLL game. Indoor lacrosse is similar to basketball in terms of its frequent scoring, use of a shot-clock (30 seconds) and use of the over-and back-rule. When teams are on offense, they often spread the floor and pass the ball around in a manner similar to that of basketball.
Each team plays with five runners (forwards and defencemen) and a goaltender on the floor during the game. Each team dresses 18 players (16 runners and two goaltenders) per game, and the players rotate on and off the floor in shifts, similar to ice hockey. The game consists of four quarters, each 15 minutes in length. A game that is tied at the end of regulation is decided in five-minute sudden-death overtime. There are no tie games in professional indoor lacrosse.
The great majority of the Leagues players have full time jobs during the week. Many of the Leagues fans will tell you they enjoy the closeness to the players because they have everyday jobs like they do.
–With files from the National Lacrosse League