by CURT SMITH
ROCHESTER—For part of this season, Dave Wilfong has needed a compass as much as he’s needed a lacrosse stick.
Wilfong has played in 23 games for the Rochester Griffins, despite making several trips to Australia because of a commitment to play in the world field lacrosse championships.
Until recently, Wilfong has played in the shadow of Rick Dudley, Rochester’s leading goal-scorer and one of the National Lacrosse League’s most prominent figures.
But, of late, Wilfong has come on with a rush, scoring 14 goals in a three-game span to lift his season goal total to 58.
“All I can say is that I think I’m doing the job I’m capable of,” says Wilfong. “My style isn’t flamboyant. If I haven’t got more publicity, maybe that’s the reason. I can’t take anything away from Rick, though. He deserves the attention. He’s done a terrific job.”
Wilfong, 26, has played junior lacrosse since he was five. He began in Canadian junior leagues, where he stayed until 1960, when he switched to junior and eventually senior league lacrosse.
In October, 1973, Wilfong was invited to try out with the Canadian national field lacrosse team. He learned three months ago that he made the club and left the Griffins June 22 for Australia.
In seven games there, the Canadians had a 5-2 record, losing to England and the United States. On July 8, Wilfong returned to Canada and began preparing for his return to the NLL.
“All that traveling wears you down,” Wilfong says. “By the time I came back here, I’d lost my quick speed, my ability to sprint. I’ve got them back now, but it was a tough battle.”
Wilfong, who has compiled 91 points, has been tagged with less than 50 penalty minutes. Although a police constable in his home town of Brampton, Ont., Wilfong is hardly a “policeman” on the playing floor.
“I get some kidding about my job,” Wilfong says, “especially when I don’t get involved in too many fights while playing. Why fight when it’s not useful, though? I can help the team more on the floor than off it.”
Wilfong is one of the NLL’s few players to have a brother on another team. Bram Wilfong plays for Toronto.
(Reprinted by permission of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.)