ILIndoor Top 50: Ryan Ward #35

Ryan Ward, left, brings an invaluable veteran leadership presence to Edmonton. (Photo: Richard Olson)
Ryan Ward, left, brings an invaluable veteran leadership presence to Edmonton. (Photo: Richard Olson)

More than goals, more than assists, more than anything, coaches want 1 thing consistently from their players. And that 1 thing is consistency. And if there’s 1 thing that Ryan Ward brings to the game, it’s that. In his 10 National Lacrosse League seasons, this right-hander out of Victoria is averaging about 1.5 goals per game, which translates to the obvious. Some nights he scores more than others, of course, but the point here is that Ward is a dependable offensive gunner who brings his touch every game. And speaking of every game, Ward has played in 155 of a possible 160 regular-season games over his 10 seasons and hasn’t missed a game in the last 4. It stands to reason that if a guy produces regularly, you want him in the lineup regularly. That’s where you’ll find Ward on NLL nights, and it’s why you can find him on ILIndoor’s list of top players in the game today.

It’s all nice that Ward is there game in and game out. But it’s even better that he can be counted on to do his job. Last season with the Rush, he cashed in for 21 goals and 54 assists, giving him a career-best 75 points. He scored 75 in 2007 but had not gotten out of the 50-point range the last 2 seasons. He discovered his high-scoring touch again for the 2013 season, and the Rush were rewarded with a franchise-best 203 goals for the season.

The skill is there, no doubt. But now with all this experience under his belt, he can add a better understanding of the game to that skill. Ward has been around long enough to know which goalies do what, why defenses do what they do, and what situation calls for a specific point of attack. It’s a trait that players can gain only through experience, and the Rush certainly count on Ward for that perspective.

Ward certainly has combined the 2. His 75 points was enough to lead the way in Edmonton, and his 6 power-play goals were second only to teammate Zack Greer. And now that he’s got some young shooters to tutor with the Rush, his role has expanded even more. Wrap it all up into 1 player and you’ve got a leader in Ryan Ward who sets the pace by example, not just rep.

ILIndoor’s take

“Ward will let a decade of concrete production do his speaking for him. Consistency in the form of 20+ goals and 40 assists for 60 points a year is what you can count on from Ryan. Ward is a deadly outside marksman and a seasoned PP general where he can hurt you in many ways. Veteran leadership is needed in Edmonton for them to advance to the top and Ward will be happy to supply that to Edmonton’s offensive right side for a couple more seasons in their pursuit of the Champion’s Cup.” – Marty O’Neill

“It’s hard to believe, but Ward has been in the league for 10 years. He’s never scored fewer than 18 goals and twice has cracked the 30 mark. He’s a consistent contributor who last year had his highest assists total with 54, helping to tie his career high of 75 points.” – Stephen Stamp

“Ryan Ward’s approach should be valued more than it is, especially in this day and age. There are so many young players coming into the league, and they’d do well to look, listen and learn. Even if they aren’t on Ward’s team. He’s a model of consistency and that’s what every player should be aiming to be.” – Bob Chavez

Top 50

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
No. 39: Kevin Ross
No. 38: Jeff Moleski
No. 37: Drew Westervelt
No. 36: Jeff Gilbert

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