Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

National Lacrosse League records looking likely to fall in 2014

Garrett Billings has a shot at a pair of NLL records in 2014. (Photo: Graig Abel)
Garrett Billings has a shot at a pair of NLL records in 2014. (Photo: Graig Abel)

With the move to the 18-game season this year, it was anticipated that some single-season National Lacrosse League records would fall in 2014. Today we’ll take a look at a few marks that are definitely in peril as the season winds into the stretch drive. One of the highest-profile records, of course, is for points in a season. John Grant Jr. set the record two years ago in a remarkable season during which he missed only two games with a cracked sternum, thus breaking John Tavares‘ long-standing record of 115 in the same 14 games that Tavares played in 2001. Now Garrett Billings is breathing down the neck of Grant’s mark. Billings and Shawn Evans are both in pursuit of the assists record that Billings set last year and Evans came close to last season. Finally, we take a look at the forced turnovers record, which Kyle Rubisch has made his personal domain. Make the jump to see how the record pursuits are unravelling. READ MORE »

Mammoth fire coaching staff; no replacements named yet

The Colorado Mammoth announced today that head coach Bob Hamley and assistants Ed Comeau and Sean Ferris have been relieved of their coaching duties effective immediately.

“I have tremendous respect and admiration for Bob, Ed and Sean, and can’t say enough about what tremendous men they are,” said Mammoth president & general manager Steve Govett. “Unfortunately, our team has not met the organization’s expectations. Change was necessary.”

Hamley was in his fifth season as head coach, while Comeau and Ferris were in their fourth.

No replacements have been named at this time. An announcement regarding the coaching staff will be made in the near future.

Colorado hosts the Calgary Roughnecks on ‘Lacrosse Out Cancer’ Night this Sat., Mar. 8 at 7pm MT on HealthONE Field at Pepsi Center.

Shawn Williams and Jordan MacIntosh on Boxla Beat

Shawn Williams is a National Lacrosse League veteran, so you know he’s not getting too worked up about his Buffalo Bandits sitting at 6-2, off to a start that they’re hoping will push last year’s playoff-less season quickly into the rear-view mirror. But there’s no question that Williams and his teammates are enjoying the way they’re playing and the results they’re getting. You may wonder how Williams can even focus on playing while his 8-year-old son Tucker is in Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital dealing with his third round of chemotherapy for Burkitt’s Lymphona. The answer is pretty simple, Williams says. “I don’t see how I could be sitting at the hospital during a game when Tucker would be saying, ‘What are you doing here? You should be playing.’” Yep, the son who inspired the phrase Braver Than Brave from his nurses is a source of inspiration for his dad and everyone who knows him. You can hear Williams talk about the Bandits’ season and how Tucker and the family are making out on this week’s episode of Boxla Beat on NLL Radio. I’m also joined by Minnesota Swarm star Jordan MacIntosh. He talks about his team’s struggles and how good it felt to carry over the momentum from Saturday’s loss to Toronto into a comeback win over Philadelphia. Two great guests make for one great show, this week on Boxla Beat.

Swarm players and coaches helping youth box lacrosse league thrive

The Minnesota Youth Box Lacrosse League is six years old, and like most six-year-olds it’s growing rapidly. What started with 185 kids taking part at the beginning has burgeoned to about 1,200 now playing under the direction of Aimee Caines, the league’s director as well as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Swarm. And the league is capturing some attention, as a recent story on Fox Sports attests. “One thing I have noticed is when you talk to the kids, you ask them what they like better, a lot of them have been saying box lacrosse,” the story quotes Shayne Jackson, a 23-year-old Scarborough, Ontario native in his second season with the Swarm. Alex Crepinsek is a Swarm defender who, like Jackson, was chosen in the first round of the 2012 National Lacrosse League draft. Crepinsek sees the youth league giving American players a better chance to excel at the indoor game with an eye to pursuing spots in the pro league down the road. “I think the guys on our team that started playing field lacrosse, their first box lacrosse experience was playing professional,” he said. “They’re just such good field lacrosse players that they could adapt and learn the game. With kids now growing up and playing box lacrosse, it should help the improvement of the league and help the popularity of it as well.”

Teddy Jenner’s OTCB podcast with the voice of voices, Quint Kessenich

Quint Kessenich (Photo: ESPN)
Quint Kessenich (Photo: ESPN)

If you’ve ever watched an NCAA college lacrosse game on TV or the internet you’ve heard Quint Kessenich’s voice, critiquing the play on the field with an expertly precise fine-tooth comb. It comes naturally to the former 2x NCAA goalie of the year, who’s built up quite the resume for himself since stepping out of the cage and behind the microphone.

While he only had a cup of coffee playing professional indoor lacrosse back in 1999 with the Baltimore Thunder, Kessenich wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. In a tweet posted moments after our chat, the former MILL forward said, ‘’to scrap for a ground ball against Jim Veltman in the Maple Leaf Gardens… that’s what you live for.” Who ever thought we’d hear that from a former field goalie who was originally drafted as a goalie. READ MORE »

Video: Which Bandit is most likely to cry at the movies?

Everybody cries at touching movies, right? The Buffalo Bandits asked their players which of their teammates would be most likely to shed a tear at the cinema. Watch as they weight in with their opinions. One player seems to be a popular pick. We don’t want to give it away, but here’s a hint: his name rhymes with Vane Pith.

Lewis Ratcliff and Garrett Billings appear this week on Boxla Beat

They’re two of the highest-scoring forwards in the lacrosse world, snipers who can bury when most of us couldn’t even see the hole they’re shooting at. But even for guys like Lewis Ratcliff and Garrett Billings, confidence is critical to success and it can be in short supply when things don’t seem to be going the way you’d like. This week on Boxla Beat on NLL Radio, I talk to Ratcliff and Billings about the up and down start to the season for both them and their teams, the Vancouver Stealth and Toronto Rock respectively. As of today, both teams are on the outside looking in at playoff position, but both have been through struggles before and know what it takes to get to the top. Both players are also deeply involved in the game outside of the National Lacrosse League, helping to get young players into the game. Ratcliff is the Director of Lacrosse Operations for Monarch Lacrosse, a new company looking to help develop players at all levels of the game. Billings and the Rock are going more grassroots, hosting three free clinics in the Toronto area for kids who have never played the game. Hear all about it on this week’s episode of Boxla Beat on NLL Radio, the best of lacrosse radio.

Lacrosse world showing it’s got Tucker Williams’ back; you can help too

Tucker Williams (white shirt with burgundy sleeves) being interviewed at a Brooklin Redmen game.
Tucker Williams (white shirt with burgundy sleeves) being interviewed at a Brooklin Redmen game.

The Brooklin Redmen’s captain and leader Shawn Williams has developed a reputation over the years for being able to take a shot. With his 40th birthday looming this June the Red’s all time leading scorer has been cross checked, punched, slashed, kicked, and even bitten once in order to score a goal or dish to an open man. No one in the lacrosse world, or any world for that matter, can question ‘The People’s Willy’s’ toughness, however late last week he was delivered a blow that has left him reeling more than a cheap shot from a woody ever could. READ MORE »

Mike Grimes and Joe Walters on Boxla Beat

Mike Grimes is one of the best defenders in the National Lacrosse League. Last weekend he showed he can also put into play a pretty sweet quick stick, burying a nice goal in an offensive set for the Vancouver Stealth in their win over the Minnesota Swarm. That’s the way of the game in the new NLL. With reduced rosters and a growing emphasis on the running game, players like Grimes are invaluable these days. The Peterborough native is now playing all his lacrosse in his adopted home of British Columbia, and there aren’t many players for whom the rink is more convenient; he lives just 15 minutes away from the Langley Events Centre. Joe Walters is another NLL player living close to where he plays, and in his case its his home town of Rochester, where he’s won back to back Champions Cups with the Knighthawks. Both are articulate and insightful, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the conversations I have with them on this week’s edition of Boxla Beat on NLL Radio. We discuss the impacts of the shorter benches, practice mid-week versus the day before games and the mechanics and utility of video study. Check out the show for the best of lacrosse radio.

Denise Watkins is doing just fine in the male-dominated world of pro sports ownership

Vancouver owner Denise Watkins in her rappelling gear.

Denise Watkins and her husband started watching lacrosse in 2004. Like many people, they quickly became fans of the game. Usually, that leads to the purchase of season tickets. In their case, it led to a bigger purchase: the San Jose Stealth. Well, the Stealth have moved twice since those early days in California, first to Everett and now to Langley. But Watkins is still the face of the franchise and very much an involved owner. Steve Ewen has an interesting article in the Vancouver Province that opens with the story of Watkins being one of the first volunteers for a team-building exercise that involved rappelling 100 feet from the ceiling of the arena in Everett. When you talk to players from the Stealth, they mention frequently what a great owner Watkins is. Tonight, she’ll get to enjoy the first game of the new Stealth era at the Langley Events Centre, possibly with one eye on the floor and one eye up in the rafters scouting out the best place to rappel.