Drew Petkoff joined the New England Black Wolves midway through the 2015 season. He will be returning in 2016, and is looking forward to his second season in Connecticut.
Recently, Drew took a few minutes to reflect back on 2015 and look ahead to 2016.
What was your first impression of playing at Mohegan Sun Arena last year?
“Two things really stood out: First off, the venue in general, Mohegan Sun as a whole, was just an unbelievable facility. And then the one thing that stood out from the actual arena was that you can definitely tell that the boards and the bench were brought in. But once I stepped out on to the actual playing surface, I was surprised at how well it worked. The boards, they look funny, there’s no other way of putting it. But when you step on the floor and start playing, it’s a great venue to play in and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the opposing players’ favorite places to play in terms of the actual venue surface. It’s a world class facility and I was just surprised at how good everything works here and fits here. And the atmosphere here, even with a smaller crowd, is unbelievable.”
Talk a little more about that atmosphere. Do the players feel the difference in a smaller arena?
“Playing in Toronto, we would get eight to 12 thousand fans per game, which was awesome. Loved the support. We had a lot of good fans in Toronto. But even with that many fans in a 20,000-capacity arena, it sometimes can feel a little empty. Sometimes, the crowd noise gets a little bit lost. But here, when you’re playing in a nice, smaller venue, you can really feel the energy a lot more. And I think that’s really important for the players. I wouldn’t be able to look into a crowd and necessarily say, ‘Oh there’s 10,000 people here.’ Ten thousand people sound different at every venue. What really fires you up is the crowd engagement in general. It’s a lot easier to feel (that) in an atmosphere like the one we have at Mohegan Sun Arena.”
What kind of style of play should Black Wolves fans look for this season?
“I know most of the personnel on defense who are coming back and some of the ones on offense. In terms of playing style, really fast-paced is probably the best way to put it. We have a lot of athletic runners and a lot of guys who like to hit, so we’re going to try and do a lot of dictating of the pace both offensively and defensively. It should make for very fast paced, sometimes ping-pong-y action back and forth. Fast paced, some good hits and some quick transitions.”
For fans of outdoor lacrosse, how would you explain the indoor game?
“I work in a facility where I deal with 300 lacrosse athletes a day, and it’s almost exclusively outdoor kids. So the one thing I tell them is that outdoor lacrosse is much more of a game about possession and about finding that right, perfect shot. It’s almost like a chess match in a sense, where you are making very strategic, meticulous moves. With the indoor game, all of that kind of goes out the window. There is a thirty-second shot clock. The perfect shot is really hard to attain. You’re just trying to get any good, quality shot. It’s a lot more organized chaos, I guess, than the outdoor game. I think the one interesting part of the indoor game is that there is usually one characteristic that people can be interested in. It’s got a lot more physicality than the outdoor game and some people like the physicality, like that hard-hitting action. It’s got a lot of skill. We develop skill a little differently than the outdoor game in that everybody is more of a specialist with one hand as opposed to being really good with both hands. So because of that, there’s a lot of unique situations in the indoor game that you don’t really see in the outdoor game. So it’s kind of got that hard-hitting element, that finesse element, its fast-paced, it’s got a little bit of the strategic element with power plays and penalty kills, which happen a little more frequently and are a little bit more important to the indoor game than they are to the outdoor game. So it’s got a little bit of everything. Indoor lacrosse pretty much has it all.”
You are from Hamilton, Ontario. How important was indoor lacrosse for you growing up in Canada?
“Indoor lacrosse in Canada, in the areas that it’s popular, it’s very popular, and it’s got a very deep-rooted culture. There are a couple of cities in Ontario, the province that I’m from, that have that deep-rooted culture, like Orangeville, Brampton, St. Catherines. All those areas, I feel like have a deep, deep culture in the game. Where I am from, Hamilton, has a pretty good culture as well. I live right beside one of the reservations, so there is a good culture clash there as well. We both (players from the aboriginal community of the Six Nations Reservation and the Hamilton community) grow up playing the game. We play it a little differently, but we both really love the game. I think growing up next to the reservation really helps us have a better appreciation for the game. We live 20 minutes away and so when our teams play against each other, it’s interesting getting to play against the aboriginal community in their venues and in their culture. It’s kind of their game really. What it means to us, being Canadian, for us, it’s a summer time way of life.”