Crease Dives – The Week That Was…
By Mike Hancock
No doubt, the top story of the week in Toronto Rock-land, and pretty safe to say in the lacrosse world as a whole, was Josh Sanderson stepping away from the game. Shooter has been a part of this league for 18 of its previous 29 seasons and in many ways, it just doesn’t seem right that he won’t be a part of season number 30 for the NLL.
Josh showed a renewed sense of enthusiasm last week, even getting together with some of the younger guys before a recent practice, trying to replicate the recent Evgeni Malkin spin-o-rama goal on the lacrosse floor. He was having fun, he was in good spirits and he was excited about the coming season. Alas, it was his body that wasn’t ready just yet for the challenge of another NLL season. He hasn’t ruled out a return in 2016, but if 2015 was his last NLL season, 102 points and a new assist record was one heck of a way to go out.
One of the best we’ve ever seen, so long for now ‘Shoot’ and most of all, thank you.
One thing that sticks out for me about Josh Sanderson’s lacrosse career actually goes back to 1996 and his 60 goal, 60 assist season with the Orangeville Northmen in his Junior A days, leading the league in scoring and winning the league’s MVP award. He then went on to score 21 goals and 21 assists in the playoffs, leading the Northmen to the Minto Cup, Canadian Junior A lacrosse championship.
More than just the matching goal and assist totals in the regular season and playoffs, maybe the most impressive thing was he did it with a wooden stick. He was one of the few players in the game at that time using a ‘woodie’ at the offensive end of the floor and he was a wizard with it.
Northmen PA announcer Hannah Sawyer recapping a Northmen goal with, “that’s Sanderson from Sanderson and Sanderson,” was also something regularly heard that season with Josh’s cousins Phil, Ryan and Brandon all playing on that Northmen Minto Cup winning team.
Last Chance To Shine
Training camp in the NLL is short. There isn’t much time for a player to impress and earn a spot on an active roster or a spot on the practice roster to become a player waiting in the wings. With Saturday’s exhibition game on the horizon, this will be the last chance to make an impression in game action before the official roster cutdown on Friday, December 18th.
Next week, look for the final few roster moves and just because a player might be let go somewhere else, it doesn’t mean that there season is over. With the amount of talent that now makes up the National Lacrosse League, don’t be surprised to see one team’s ‘roster deletion’ become another team’s treasure.
Rock fans will notice a different shade of blue in a lot of the team’s gear this season. There will be a distinct shift to a more ‘royal blue’ in the player’s gloves and helmets as well as the goalie’s pants, gloves and leg pads. Some of the player’s will be wearing some of the new gear this weekend and the goaltenders worked in their gear for the first time in a game situation last weekend in Ottawa in the win over the Saskatchewan Rush.
That’s all for now, muse amongst yourselves…