Presidents Cup Day 2, Monday August 28
by Stephen Stamp
Two days in, one undefeated team remaining, one winless team remaining, and one logjam in between those outliers in the standings that will make the rest of the 2023 Presidents Cup round robin fascinating to watch unfold over the next three days.
3 Stars, Day 2
1 Levi Anderson, Edmonton Miners, 4 goals, 8 assists in two games
Anderson was already a strong prospect for the upcoming NLL entry draft (more on that as the week progresses). He is only helping his case to be a high pick with his dynamic play this week. Anderson has scored 2 goals in each of Edmonton's three games and has added 13 assists to lead the Presidents Cup with 19 points. It isn't just the numbers, though: Anderson has looked fluid and poised with or without the ball and is constantly a threat.
2 Nick Damude, Snake Island Muskies
After playing both of Snake Island's Day 1 games, there was no time to rest for Damude, who was back between the pipes for the 10 am faceoff as the Muskies took on Six Nations this morning. That is a lot of work for a goalie to take on in the span of 25 hours. Damude has been unfazed by the load, allowing just 20 goals while posting an .848 save percentage. There have been several outstanding goaltending performances in the tournament, but no on has been as consistently excellent so far as Damude.
3 Ryan Benesch, Ladner Pioneers
Ladner's game against Kahnawake was tied 6-6 almost half way through the second period. There were many reasons why it did not remain close; Benesch was the biggest of them. The future Hall of Famer was snakebitten early but cashed in 3 goals and added 8 assists for the highest single-game point output of the tournament so far.
Daniel Kritkausky, Tuscarora Tomahawks
There are about 60 players taking part in the Presidents Cup who were on NLL active rosters last season. Two of them play for Tuscarora. That means that most of the Tomahawks are unsung. Kritkausky gets the nod in this spot because he seems to be improving almost game by game as a 25-year old. The Orchard Park, NY native came across the border to play some Jr B lacrosse with the Niagara Thunderhawks, but that was a matter of 10 games back in 2017 and '18. Kritkausky jumped at the chance to play in the PBLA/PBL last winter; both his athleticism and the rust of not having played much box showed. But Kritkausky kept plugging away, working hard and refining his game day by day. He looks better at the Prezzy than he did in the Can Am playoffs, and he looked better there than he did in the PBLA. That is an impressive learning curve, and it paid off in a big way Monday night when Kritkausky scored a pair of transition goals and was a Nick Rose leg pad save away from making it a hat trick.
Quote of the Day
Brine Rice, Snake Island Muskies (Speaking, literally, while filling the ice tub)
On having to play three games in 25 hours to open the tournament.
“We knew right off the bat that we got the crappy end of the stick. We just had to stay hydrated, really. We had a battle to get by the [Akwesasne] Bucks [in the TNSLL final] so we're used to having to prepare for a lot of tough games. It's really just staying focused, keeping your body in tip top shape when you're able to. You're bruised, your bones are beat up, it's really just focusing on your game.”
On not coming in expecting to go undefeated and how the rest of the tournament looks now that they have gotten through those three quick games and won two of them.
“We knew from last year, the teams that made it to the final, the records were all 4-2-1 or something. We knew going undefeated was going to be a challenge. We knew what we had to do to get our bodies ready. Every team has to do the two games in one day, we were just the first ones to do it. We feel like we're in a nice place, getting that win today. We just have to see how the other teams do with the two games in a day.”
Thinking Outside the Box
Presidents Cup participants beyond the Prezzy
Tyler Burton, St. Albert Miners
Burton appears in the TOTB segment today, but he has been honoured as an unsung hero before, as well. He was voted IL Indoor's NLL Unsung Hero award winner in 2016. Burton had played three seasons with the Rochester Knighthawks, including being part of their Champions Cup winners in '12 and '13. Then in 2014 he played just one game with Rochester.
Burton didn't sulk. He earned his way back into the NLL in part with a tour de force performance with Southwest Cyclops. On top of scoring 7 goals and 19 points in four games, the award story noted that he “was absolutely dominant, winning faceoffs, punishing opponents in his defensive zone and scoring in both transition and the set offence. Burton was among the best players in the league and that helped him get a gig with Vancouver in 2015.”
He has been a regular in the NLL ever since, he is in the top 10 in NLL history in faceoff wins, and he
also provided one of the cutest moments in NLL history when his son got to see him play for the first time on young Brixton's second birthday, which you can see here.
🥍 There are at least seven players regularly playing with wooden sticks in the tournament. On Monday afternoon, we got a woodie transition goal from Edmonton's Matt Kim. That is always a glorious moment.
🥍 The Six Nations Rivermen have scored 16 goals in their three games (an average of 5.3); they have won one of them and lost each of the other two by 2 goals. At 1-2, the Rivermen are right in the thick of the battle for one of the four playoff spots. If they can find the offensive oomph that saw them average 12.3 goals per game in the Ontario Series regular season, they could quickly assert themselves as serious contenders to win another Presidents Cup medal.
🥍 The Rivermen won the bronze medal last year, which was their fifth podium finish in the last seven Prezzies. They won the championship in 2015 and 2019, and took silver medals in 2014 and 2017. The turnaround will need to happen soon, though, if they are going to have a shot at adding to that haul; they run up against undefeated Ladner on Tuesday.
🥍 Oakville definitely found their offence after scoring only 4 as they lost to the Rivermen on Day 1. The Rock exploded for 16 goals, 7 of which came in the first period, as they handled Tuscarora Monday night in a battle of the last two teams that had not yet won a game.
🥍 The host of a tournament generally is slotted in the prime time games. Some advantages come with that. There can also be disadvantages. Oakville will see that side of things as they get the short rest after their win over Tuscarora ahead of their two-game day on Tuesday. The Rock play at 11 am tomorrow as well as the 8 pm game, and there will be nothing easy about their day: Oakville faces the two teams that are sitting tied for second place at 2-1, Edmonton in the morning and Snake Island in the evening. The game against the Muskies in particular could be a big challenge, as teams playing their second game of the day against a team playing its first tend to fare very poorly in the Presidents Cup.
🥍 The Tomahawks are 0-3 but they simply do not give up. They have had a problem with digging themselves early holes in games yet just keep battling to make contests of them. They trailed Snake Island 6-2 in their opener then clawed back to make the final a respectable 10-7.
They were down 11-5 to Edmonton with 12 minutes to play Monday morning but scored the last 4 goals of the game to pull within 11-9 at the final buzzer. Then against the Rock, Tuscarora fell behind 7-1 and 10-3. This time, in their second game of the day, it looked like the Tomahawks had finally run out of answers. Then they scored 5 of the next 7 goals to make Oakville sweat things out a bit.