Paper City Oaks to play as part of North American Box Lacrosse League

A different version of lacrosse is coming to the area, with a team forming in Holyoke.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 1:23 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2023 at 4:58 PM EDT
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HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A different version of lacrosse is coming to the area, with a team forming in Holyoke.

Many of us know about regular lacrosse, but we have never seen anything like this. Say hello to box lacrosse, a form of the sport that originated in Canada in the 1930s. Eric Miller, a defenseman with the Paper City Oaks, told Western Mass News that this version is more intense.

“It’s much more continuous. There’s not many out of bounds calls. You get to use the hockey boards, the checking, the physicality, and the fighting,” Miller explained.

Miller is a member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard and one of several players on Holyoke’s new box lacrosse team, the Paper City Oaks, which is part of the New England region for the North American Box Lacrosse League. Head coach Joe O’Neill taught many of the players over the years, especially during his current tenure at Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton.

“We have kind of a grounds full of guys that are local that we can build a team with in Holyoke…For the guys that are still in college, it’s a much faster game and you get a lot more touches on the ball,” O’Neill noted.

The sport is a mix of field lacrosse, basketball and hockey. Games are six-on-six, including goalies, with multiple line changes per possession and a 30-second shot clock. Henry Eustis, a student at UMass Amherst, is a captain of the school’s club lacrosse team. When he heard about this box lacrosse opportunity, he knew he wanted to join in.

“Playing lacrosse outside of school and extracurricular stuff like that is always exciting. Always growing the game and teaching younger kids is a big part of it as well. Being a part of something like this, I’m very fortunate,” Eustis said.

Miller summed up the goals for this debut season.

“I’m just looking to play a little more lacrosse, but the end of the day, we want to win a regional championship and then go to nationals,” Miller said.

The Oaks’ first regular season game is against the Cambridge Nor’easters on June 30, followed by their first home game on July 1 against the Maine Northmen. The Oaks will also have two preseason contests against the Thousand Islands Spirits on June 3 and June 10.