Toronto – Two-time Minto Cup Canadian Junior A Champion, Ontario Junior A Rookie of the Year, Ivy League grad out of Cornell, MSL Defender of the Year. Not a bad resume for an NLL rookie.
On paper Toronto’s top pick in Wednesday’s NLL Draft Jesse Gamble (2nd round, 17th overall) brings an impressive list of credentials to the table. There’s little doubt the Rock feel very fortunate to have grabbed the 23-year old in the second round of the 2011 draft.
“Others had him pegged even higher in the draft,” said Rock GM Terry Sanderson. “The mindset of some in this league is that you have to be a giant to play and we don’t have that philosophy. We look for talent and a lot of intangibles including strong character. We’re fortunate to land a player like Jesse in the second round.”
With a series of off-season moves that saw veteran defenders Creighton Reid, Kyle Ross and Jeff Gilbert moved out of town, the Rock were certainly looking to replenish their defensive depth through the draft.
Gamble is a mature player with four years of NCAA Division 1 lacrosse and a Business Degree from Cornell University to his credit. He also has a couple of seasons of MSL experience under his belt playing against some of the same players he’ll face in the NLL. Many players that were drafted on Wednesday are 21-years old or younger, but others like top first round picks Kevin Crowley, Steven Keogh, Jordan McIntosh and Adam Jones are all a little older and more seasoned having had to finish their NCAA eligibility before entering the NLL Draft.
“Playing in the MSL, you’re already playing with and against NLL players,” said Gamble. “I won’t be coming in blind. I’m a little more accustomed to the strength of the players and the speed of the game. More so than a I would have been coming straight out of Junior A lacrosse.”
Being a left-handed shooter, Gamble may have an easier path the to an everyday role with the Rock through the backdoor so to speak. However, his offensive accomplishments shouldn’t be overlooked and will potentially give the Rock a new tool to use. Gamble scored 27 goals and 46 points this past summer with the Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks of the MSL. Those point totals were good for second on the Kodiaks behind the defending NLL scoring champion Ryan Benesch of Minnesota.
Gamble is very familiar with Rock assistant coach John Lovell having played for him with both the Orangeville Junior A Northmen and with Kitchener-Waterloo in the MSL.
“At the beginning of this year, I was playing just straight offence,” recalls Gamble. “When John Lovell took over as head coach in Kitchener I was put on the backdoor and played more of a transition role.”
Despite the familiarity with some of the coaching staff and the system, Gamble acknowledges that training camp will be a new experience for him and is excited to try and crack the roster of the team he followed so closely while growing up.
“Walking in, it’s going to be an eye opener,” expressed Gamble. “Just having a chance to play for the Rock is a dream come true. When I was younger, I spent my savings on Rock season tickets to be at the games.”
Gamble and other hopefuls looking to land a roster spot will begin the process when the Rock open training camp at the end of November.
Toronto Rock season tickets are on sale now. Buy or renew season tickets by Friday, October 1st and be eligible for a chance to win over $19,000 in prizes as Rocktoberfest kicks off on Monday, October 3rd.