If you’ve scanned any number of lacrosse stat sheets over the years, you know where to start looking for specific players. Kevin Ross is a name you’ll find, but not at the top. Or at the bottom. He’s usually right there in the middle, but his value to a team goes well beyond goals, assists, points or any other statistical category. There are plenty of names for the type of game Ross brings — grinder, snowplow, alley guy, dirty work, banger — but there is absolutely no doubt about the value of the game he brings. The elementary observation is that lacrosse is a team sport. And yes, you need guys to score goals. But by and large, those goals aren’t scored by themselves and the elite shooters rely on teammates to make cuts off the ball, plow through the middle or set the hard pick. It’s all in the name of clearing space and shooting lanes, and Ross is among the best in the game today to do just that. And that’s why you’re reading about him today on ILIndoor’s list of Top 50 players.
The Philadelphia Wings were understandably excited to land Ross in a trade after he scored a career-best 28 goals for Minnesota in 2012. And although an injury hampered much of his mobility through the 2013 season, Ross still managed 20 goals, 9 of which came on the power play to tie for the team lead. He finished with 53 points (20-33), good enough to rank fourth overall for the Wings.
The injury required off-season surgery and that kept him away from the game for a bit, but he’s back to health and was included on the list of invitees for this weekend’s Team Canada field tryouts at Canisius College, his alma mater.
The fact that he’s on the list despite his lack of playing time this summer (he played 2 MLL games with Hamilton) shows just how much he’s valued and how much the work he’s done to this point has solidified his rep.
Ross brings the blue-collar work ethic that’s vital to any team and with a healthy Ross on the floor this winter, the Wings and their fans should be brimming with optimism.
“Ross is a banger with the talent to chip in a few points a game. He’s at his most effective when he’s heading to the net to either finish or draw defenders and open up room for teammates. Had a career-best 28 goals with Minnesota in 2012, after which the Swarm sold high when they dealt him to Philly, for whom he posted another 20-goal season, the third of his career.” – Stephen Stamp
“I’ve always loved this type of game, the guys who do the heavy lifting and pay a big price to clear space for shooting teammates. What makes the game of Ross so cool is that he does that off-ball work so well, but also knows how to finish for himself so he can from time to time share the glory that he helps create for teammates so often. It’s been said before many times and will be said again many times, but the type of work that Ross does for a team is underrated but should never be taken for granted.” – Bob Chavez
“The NLL has become a bit of an enigma the past 2 years because of the lack of jobs available in the league. Teams are crammed with high-end goal-scoring talent and lacking the guys who roll their sleeves up in the alleys. Therefore, you should understand the value of Kevin Ross. Ross is IMO the best alley guy in the league. Kevin is a big body willing to get dirty every shift. His baseline drive with 5 seconds left on a 30-clock is legendary. Ross has a decent outside shot and inside finishing is his specialty. Not bad production on the PP crease spot either, where he also battles for valuable resets. Kevin had off-season surgery to repair an in season injury that hampered his 2013 campaign with the Wings.” – Marty O’Neill
No. 50: Aaron Bold
No. 49: Brad Self
No. 48: Jesse Gamble
No. 47: Rory Smith
No. 46: Kiel Matisz
No. 45: Lewis Ratcliff
No. 44: Johnny Powless
No. 43: Tyler Hass
No. 42: Sid Smith
No. 41: Brett Mydske
No. 40: Stephan Leblanc
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