Scott Laughton’s favorite sport as a kid was not hockey. It was lacrosse.

Once summer came and the rinks melted and drained away the ice, Laughton would put away his hockey stick and pick up a lacrosse one.

Once he stepped onto the field, thoughts of hockey would fall away as he focused on dominating lacrosse. And dominate he did. Laughton was good — really good — at lacrosse. While he never reached the international level like his father, Craig Laughton, did with the Canadian national team, Laughton represented his province with Team Ontario twice.

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“You make Team Ontario in our province, it’s a hotbed of lacrosse in Canada,” Philadelphia Wings coach Paul Day explained. “You make that team, top 18 at your age, it’s like being the top 18 in hockey. You’re a pretty special player.”

Craig got his son into lacrosse “right away,” despite the wishes of his wife, who wanted Laughton to play baseball. From the time Laughton was 4, he and his father would grab their sticks and go play at the elementary school by his house. Craig coached Laughton in both hockey and lacrosse and played a huge part in shaping him as an athlete.

“[He was] tough,” said Laughton, 27. “He yelled a lot. He’s very loud. Very, very loud. He’d yell. He wants you to be tough and just work hard.”

Craig’s toughness was a byproduct of his lacrosse career, Laughton revealed.

“I forget what year it was, but he was I think he had 110 penalty minutes in 16 games. I looked up the stats the other day and he had like 40 goals or something, so he was a little bit tougher than me but he could put up points, too.”

While Laughton says his dad was a tougher player than him, Day sees a lot of Craig in Laughton. Day, a Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Famer, played professionally against Craig. He also watched Laughton play for Team Ontario and now for the Flyers. According to Day, who also grew up playing hockey in Canada, box lacrosse players often translate into tougher hockey players because kids are allowed to play full-contact lacrosse at an earlier age, and he can see that in Laughton.

Laughton, who is in the midst of career season with the Flyers (11 goals, 27 points), shared the lacrosse field growing up with a number of other future NHLers, including the Ottawa Senators’ Connor Brown and Nick Paul with the Mimico Mountaineers Peanut Rep lacrosse team. Six-year-old Laughton captained the team and helped it to an undefeated season.

Brown’s lacrosse career ended much earlier than Laughton’s, but he played hockey with Laughton for more than a decade. Laughton may have stepped away from hockey every summer, but it “paid off” for him, Brown said, because the two “go hand-in-hand.”

Like hockey, lacrosse is a physical sport. The Wings’ Kevin Crowley also played both sports growing up in Canada but ultimately pursued a lacrosse career. He pointed out that indoor lacrosse is played in the same arena, so players learn to work within the same space and how to play off the boards. Lacrosse also has power plays, and the offensive decision-making and vision needed at both even strength and on the power play translate. Although one’s played on ice and the other on turf, there are a lot of similarities.

“Being able to handle the puck — you know, [how] lacrosse goes, you’ve got to have the ball on your stick and be able to hang on to it,” Crowley said. “So I think you develop soft hands … being able to accept a ball, like cushioning it back the same in hockey, right? You can’t go and attack the puck.”

Lacrosse can also give players an advantage. Laughton pointed toward how it helped him develop better hand-eye coordination, as well as conditioning. Laughton also said lacrosse helped him with tipping pucks and playing around the net, which Day has noticed.

“When I see guys who have played lacrosse and now are in the NHL, they know how to play in traffic,” Day said. “And they go to the dirtier [areas]. And I think he’s obviously really smart and talented, but he’s also not afraid to go anywhere on the ice.”

As Laughton neared the OHL draft, he had to cut back on lacrosse to focus on hockey. But he misses the sport and thinks it’s something more young hockey players should look into.

“Now kids are playing hockey nine months, 10 months, 11 months out of the year, and I think it just gets to be too much as a kid,” Laughton said. “I think it just helps you kind of keep your mind away from hockey as a kid, and you don’t get sick of it and you have a great sport to play.”

Laughton is far from the only hockey player with this opinion. The push for people to use box lacrosse as a training ground for hockey is growing, and it’s spearheaded by the likes of Wayne Gretzky, who is a co-owner of the Las Vegas NLL franchise that will begin play next season. Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares, whose uncle, also named John Tavares, is the all-time leading scorer in the NLL, is also a big advocate of the sport.

Laughton’s Flyers teammate, Keith Yandle, played field lacrosse growing up and still plays at home with his two daughters. Although Yandle remembers getting called for cross checking a lot when he’d transition back to hockey because in lacrosse you are allowed to be more physical with your stick, he saw his hockey game improve in many ways thanks to lacrosse.

When Yandle watched Laughton play, he could tell from the jump that he was a multisport athlete by the way he moves. When he found out Laughton played box lacrosse, it made sense to him, although he didn’t know just how good Laughton was until he heard Day’s explanation.

“Really?” Yandle asked, followed by a joke. “OK. Well. It’s a small country.”