By Martin Cleary
When Jordan Stouros was a young boy, sports was an important part of his overall development.
No matter the season, he could be found playing hockey, soccer, or rugby. At some point, he stepped away from hockey and rugby and when soccer became “out of my depth and I didn’t enjoy it,” he retreated from the pitch.
At 14, Stouros suddenly found himself without a sport, not realizing Canada’s official summer sport, lacrosse, was all around him. His cousin in Kitchener grew up playing lacrosse. His father played junior A lacrosse as a young man in Kitchener.
“Well, I may as well try,” Stouros recalled in a recent interview about the decision he made a dozen years ago to venture into box lacrosse in Ottawa. “I fell in love with it right away.”
Stouros and lacrosse were the perfect match and it gets better and better every year.
After learning the basics at the houseleague and competitive levels with the Gloucester Lacrosse Association, he played two years with the Griffins’ Junior B team and three years as a Junior A player with the Peterborough Lakers.
When he completed his junior career at 21, he wasn’t eligible for the Ontario Major Series League draft as he was protected by the highly respected and successful Lakers’ senior program.
And during his six years at Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina, he helped the Saints win the 2017 NCAA division 2 championship and reach the final in 2019. He also was the NCAA long-stick midfielder player of the year and an All-American in 2019 and 2020.
“I did well enough to stay (with the Lakers), even though I broke a finger near the end of the (2017) season. But I couldn’t ask for a better start. Peterborough does it so well,” added Stouros, who plays the transition position on the floor.
In his four seasons with the senior Lakers, he has played a growing and significant defensive role for the team as he loves to chase down loose balls and make that quick first pass on the breakout.
His dedication, loose-ball snatching and communication ability on the floor were his main contributions rather than goals and assists in the Lakers winning their record-tying fourth consecutive Canadian senior men’s Mann Cup box lacrosse championship last month. The only other team to win four national titles in a row was the 1951-54 Peterborough Timberman/Trailman squads.
Stouros was part of the Lakers’ Mann Cup championship runs in 2019 and 2022, but only played a handful of regular-season games in 2017 and 2018.
The four national championships (2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022) were spaced over six years as the 2020 and 2021 seasons were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lakers qualified for the last four nationals by winning four straight Major Series League titles in Ontario. This season, the Lakers placed second in the provincial men’s senior league at 7-5, but “all hands were on deck” for the best-of-seven playoff wins over Brooklin (4-1) and pennant-winning Six Nations (4-2).
“It was pretty awesome to win the Ontario title with the guys on the team for four years,” Stouros continued. “Winning the Ontario title is great, but the ultimate goal is to hoist the Mann Cup.”
The best-of-seven Mann Cup was staged in Peterborough from Sept. 9-17 and Langley, B.C. The series went the distance, watched by 3,500 fans each night.
The Lakers lost the first two games, but rallied to take a 3-2 lead and earned their 18th Mann Cup with a Game 7 victory.
“It was odd to say the least,” Stouros said about dropping the opening two games in the final. “We hadn’t faced that much adversity this season. Losing two games at home was not fun. But we didn’t press the panic button. We made lots of adjustments.
“It came down to being tougher on the smaller aspects and the goal scorers scoring goals. We decided we had to go after the ball more, pressure the ball (carrier) more and take a couple of extra whacks to get a powerplay.”
After the Lakers won Game 7, which included preventing Langley from scoring a goal in the fourth quarter, the players had a legendary celebration in two different Peterborough bars, while most of the city was experiencing a power outage.
“It meant a lot to win (a fourth) Mann Cup,” Stouros said. “I’ve learned a lot from the older guys and saw how valuable it was for them to win. They’re counting down their time. It’s cool for me to keep playing. I’ll hope to get an opportunity to do the same some day with my kids and wife.”
Stouros moved to Peterborough almost two years ago to be with his girlfriend and work full-time for McWilliams Moving and Storage Ltd., in corporate sales and property management.
“It (Peterborough Lakers) is an organization that brings in the right pieces and guys who want to play. The core guys are from Peterborough and they want to see the team grow. I don’t think I’m going anywhere fast,” added Stouros, who is committed to remaining a Laker.
But Stouros will be on the move next month as he joins the Buffalo Bandits for his second season in the National Lacrosse League. He was drafted by Buffalo 23rd overall in the second round of the 2020 NLL Draft.
The Bandits won the league regular-season pennant in 2022 at 14-4, captured their East Conference semifinal and final, but lost the best-of-three NLL championship 2-1 to Colorado Mammoth. He played in 10 regular-season games and four of the six playoff games.
“I got in the majority of the games. Being the youngest on the team, I wasn’t sure how much I would get to play,” said Stouros, who collected 24 loose balls and had seven penalty minutes.
The Bandits start their NLL season Dec. 3.
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Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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