Bradley Kri celebrated being drafted by the lacrosse team he grew up watching with a glass of beer with his mother at Real Sports Bar and Grill.
Throughout his junior career, the 6-2, 200 pound defenceman says he only had one consistent support and that was his mother.
“She has always been there,” Kri said. “She’s always driving me everywhere to practices and has always given me confidence and always been behind me.”
Since he was a little boy, Kri has always been a fan of the Toronto Rock.
And now he will sport the red, blue and white colours on his back after being chosen first in the second round on Monday at the 2012 National Lacrosse League draft.
“I’ve been going to the Rock games all the time and sitting on the other side of the glass,” he said. “And to be [playing] on the floor this time, it’s going to be something to remember.”
The 20-year-old, who has returned to Niagara Falls where he attends college, told the Observer reality hadn’t sunk in yet.
“I still can’t believe it,” Kri said. “I pretty much didn’t know any other [lacrosse] team growing up.”
Before being drafted, he was playing for the Orangeville Northmen Junior A team where the defender was part of the Minto Cup Canadian championship squad back in August.
In 2010, Kri helped capture the Founders Cup Canadian championship with his Junior B team, the Halton Hills Bulldogs.
Born and raised in Acton, Ont., Kri did not start playing lacrosse until he was nine-years-old. In fact, hockey was the sport he started with first.
“I was on the ice since I was three years old,” he said. “My dad used to always make the rink in my backyard and I always had a stick in my hand to play.”
However, one of his junior hockey coaches suggested he play lacrosse and that was when Kri began to juggle both sports.
“I treated them both equally,” he said. “If it was hockey season I’d work on my hockey skills and if it was lacrosse season I’d work on my lacrosse skills.
“So I haven’t had a break my whole junior career. I’ve been overlapping with hockey and then lacrosse.”
Even though Kri will turn pro, he is still playing Junior B in Niagara Falls.
Kri began playing in the Acton lacrosse house league in Georgetown and continued to move on to rep until he was 16-years-old and tried out for Junior B.
As a rookie in his first year in 2009 with the Bulldogs, he did not get much playing time. However, he was able to play every game in 2010 when they won the Founders Cup in his sophomore year with the team.
Things started to pick up in his third season with Halton Hills when Kri scored nine goals and picked up 10 assists in 20 games.
“Around that time I was starting to think that I had a spot for lacrosse,” Kri said over the phone in Niagara Falls after Junior B hockey practice.
That was when he jumped from Junior B to A with the Northmen in June and racked up a total of six points in the playoffs to win the Minto Cup and recalls that moment as something he will never forget.
“Every year you play for one goal and that is to win the championship and two out of the three years I played, we won it [Founders and Minto Cup],” Kri said, looking back.
Due to the light-game schedule pro lacrosse has every year, starting in January, many players have a part-time job on the side while they still participate in every game.
As for Kri, he says he will meet with the Rock about his plans for the upcoming season and whether or not it would be possible for him to continue playing hockey until April in Niagara Falls.
If it’s not do-able, then he may find work in the city.
“I just want to play the best I can and work as hard as I can,” he said. “Whatever they ask me to do I’ll do it for them.”
The Rock’s training camp will begin in the first week of December.