By Mike Hancock
And Down The Stretch They Come
Here we are, just a few sleeps away from cutdown day, which officially happens on Friday at 10am EST. Teams must be down to an active roster of 20 players and they can sign up to 4 players to the practice roster. It’s a nervous time for many players and a difficult time for the decision makers around the league. The time has come to continue on a certain path or in some cases, change direction a little bit with an eye on the coming seasons.
There are only nine teams in the NLL. With most teams dressing either 6 or 7 offensive players each game, you do the math. We’re talking about the top 55-60 offensive players in the world. Take that a step further and slice the pie again into two halves, one made up of right handed shooters and one made up of lefts and you’re looking at a an offensive player competing for one of 27-30 jobs in the entire league depending on which way they shoot.
Further to that, if you’re a goaltender, there are just nine jobs up for grabs. Backup goaltenders don’t play too much, you need a second option, but most of the time, they aren’t seeing many minutes unless we’re talking about mop up duty or the odd back-to-back situation.
This is the best lacrosse league in the world with the best players and the numbers prove it.
Playing The Percentages
When you have the opportunity to shoot, why not take it? Perhaps a motto that Brett Hickey lives by but it runs deeper than that. Hickey fills his day working at the Dynamic Athlete as a personal trainer within the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre. He also takes advantage of the opportunity to hit the turf and rip 300 to 500 shots a day. The Windsor, Ontario native says this is a regular routine for him dating back to his Junior B days in his hometown.
Hickey’s belief in putting in the extra time was solidified by the time spent with former NLL offensive star Lewis Ratcliff while he played for the Stealth. Over Hickey’s first few seasons in the NLL, he put in some extra time shooting with the NLL all-time great away from regular Stealth practices.
Hickey does however preach the importance of hitting the net and takes a lot of pride in his shots on goal percentage. Of the top 5 NLL goal scorers in 2015, Hickey was the only player who took less than 200 shots on goal at 192. Two of those top-5 players, Mark Matthews and Curtis Dickson, each took 306 shots. The only player with a better shots on goal percentage than Hickey’s 76 percent among those players was league goal leader Ryan Benesch at 77 percent. Hickey’s scoring percentage was the highest of the top 5 with 26 percent of his shots on goal denting the twine. The lowest of the top 5 was Dickson at 15.7 percent.
While there has been some early success, Hickey wants more and is continuing to take his opportunities to get better every day. Because 26 percent of the time, it works every time.
They Brought Their Toys With Them
Well, at least that’s what the Rock and the Oakville Firefighters are hoping you’ll do on Saturday night when the Rock host their final pre-season game at the TRAC at 7 p.m. against the Georgia Swarm. Fans are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the game to support the annual Oakville Firefighters Toy Drive!
That’s all for now, muse amongst yourselves…