Presidents Cup Day 5, Thursday August 31
by Stephen Stamp
Round robin play wrapped up on Thursday at the Presidents Cup at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville. The top four teams advanced to the playoffs, which consist of a pair of semifinals on Friday followed by bronze and gold medal games Saturday, with faceoff times at 3pm and 7pm ET each day.
The Oakville Rock downed the Kahnawake Mohawks in the final game of the round robin to secure first place and they will play the fourth-seeded Edmonton Miners Friday in the late game. The Ladner Pioneers wind up second and face the Snake Island Muskies in the early semifinal.
Let's take a look at today's 3 Stars, Unsung Hero, Quote of the Day, Thinking Outside the Box and Quick Sticks
3 Stars, Day 5
1 Mike Triolo, Edmonton Miners, 7 goals, 2 assists
Triolo was absolutely on fire for Edmonton against Kahnawake in a game that determined which team went to the semifinals and which team was out of the playoffs. He wound up leading the round robin portion of the Prezzy with 20 goals.
2 Randy Chrysler Jr., Tuscarora Tomawhawks, 45 saves on 51 shots, .882 save percentage
What a night for Chrysler. The Tomahawks' third-string goalie got the start in Tuscarora's final game and was outstanding in leading the team to their only win of the tournament. It was no cakewalk, either, as the Rivermen substantially outshot the Tomahawks and Chrysler made some key saves including breakaway stops to preserve the lead.
3 Rob Hellyer, Kahnawake Mohawks, 5 goals, 10 assists
Hellyer had 8 points in the Mohawks first game then added 7 in the second, which allowed him to wind up in a tie for first on the scoring chart with Oakville's Ryan Lanchbury, each with 35 points. With the Mohawks eliminated, Hellyer will surely be passed by a few players, but he'll still be one of the top performers at the 2023 Prezzy.
Luc Magnan, Snake Island Muskies
Magnan is easy to spot with his bright orange shoes contrasting markedly with Snake Island's black and yellow uniforms. Not nearly so easy would be to replicate what he brings to the Muskies on the defensive end. Magnan, who spends his winters playing for the Halifax Thunderbirds, is not generally a flashy player and he has scored just 4 goals in 102 career NLL games. The pride of Pine Falls, Manitoba just plays smart, solid defence with enough of an edge to make opposing forwards uncomfortable but not so much as to take copious penalty minutes. Actually, he doesn't just do that. Magnan does pitch in to the transition game as well. He scored a goal on the run against Tuscarora in Snake Island's Prezzy opener. And while in error he was not credited with an assist, Magnan made dropped a gorgeous lob pass into the bucket for Tyler Halls, setting up a lovely twister finish past Cristian Del Bianco Thursday against Ladner.
A signature Magnan play, though, came as the final few seconds of the second period ticked away in Snake Island's game against Oakville. The ball was turned over deep in the Snake River zone and Nick Rose was out of the Rock net for an extra attacker. Magnan was tied up with Dan Lintner, who grabbed his stick to keep him from being able to break out. Magnan started to pull Lintner like a sled dog but realized it would just slow him down so he dropped his stick, which basically propels him like overspeed training for a sprint to the bench to spring a forward from the far end for a break on the open net. There did not wind up being enough time for a chance to develop, but the effort and intelligence encapsulated in that play underscore what Magnan regularly does for a team.
Quote of the Day
Winter Rivera, Six Nations Rivermen
Rivera is a callup from the Jr B Six Nations Rebels, where as a 16-year-old he was fourth in the OJBLL in scoring with 47 goals and 50 assists for 97 points and led the Rebels to a perfect 20-0 regular season.
In the playoffs, the Rebels went to overtime of the deciding Game 5 of their Ontario western conference final against St. Catharines. After the Athletics scored first in the 10-minute overtime period, Rivera got the tying goal, then scored the winner in sudden death double overtime.
I spoke with Winter Wednesday morning to ask what it was like to be playing in the Presidents Cup at age 16 (he turns 17 in December), when he was a rookie in Jr B this year?
On how he wound up playing with the Rivermen at the Prezzy.
“It started out with my hard work and dedication with Rebels, having a terrific season there. I played one game with the Rivermen during regular season then joined them for the Ontario finals against Oakville.”
Given that he scored a goal and added 7 assists in those three games, it is no surprise they brought him to the TRAC for the Presidents Cup as well.
On how it feels playing against men at a very high level of lacrosse while he is still just 16 years old.
“I try not to think of it as any different. I try not to get in my head too much, just play it like any other game.
For the first regular season game I moved up with the Rivermen I was a little nervous, but then when I got hit the first time that all just went away. I play football too, as a running back, and I love the contact so once I got hit I was fine.”
Asked to compare the feeling of the double overtime winner with playing in the Prezzy.
“That moment right there was awesome. Right in our home barn, right in front of my grandma too. Playing in the Presidents Cup is that same level of excitement.”
On whether there is a difference playing Sr B vs Jr B.
“Absolutely, there is a big difference. All these players are a lot faster and stronger, but it doesn't get to me. I try to outwork them.”
Thinking Outside the Box
Presidents Cup participants beyond the Prezzy
Presidents Cup Coaches
The Prezzy is drawing lots of attention from NLL coaches and general managers, who are patrolling the TRAC to see the lacrosse and keep an eye out for potential free agenta or draft prospects of interest. Not all the coaches who will be well known to many NLL fans are roaming the upper concourse, though. There are plenty of recognizable names on the benches for the teams in the Presidents Cup.
Among the coaches who would be familiar to NLL fans are:
Darris Kilgour and Randy Chrysler (Tuscarora Tomahawks)
Stew Monture (Six Nations Rivermen)
Steve Toll, Jordan Cornfield and Cam Sedgwick (Edmonton Miners)
Matt Sawyer, Jon Harasym and Jamie Dubrick (Oakville Rock)
Luke Wiles, Chris Driscoll and Kevin Fines (Kahnawake Mohawks)
Josh Sanderson (Snake Island Muskies)
🥍 Tyler Halls has been very good in the Prezzy. He had his first high-profile moment when he scored on a beautiful twister past Christian Del Bianco after accepting a perfect 100-foot pass from Luc Magnan. He has been solid on defence and smart and efficient in transition throughout, though, continuing a trend that has been on display in his NLL career as well.
🥍 Really tough penalty call on Snake Island's Sam Firth that had a huge impact on what was a close game. Muskies were called for an illegal pick while Firth had the ball. He took a couple of steps while he was putting the ball down but it was not an obvious delay of game infraction. The ref called him for delay of game and Austin Shanks scored six seconds into the power play. It seems unusual to make that highly subjective call in a tight game with 12 minutes left. Then, a few minutes later Stephen Keogh actually committed a flagrant delay of game and it was not called. You could say that makes up for the first call, but the power play goal Ladner scored on the penalty looms large in a one-goal game.
🥍 What a save by Christian Del Bianco on Halls on a breakaway in the final minute or so to preserve a 9-8 lead for Ladner. CDB is great in most goaltending scenarios but he seems to possess a special gene for clutch situations.
🥍 Tyler Conn from Tuscarora switched to a plastic stick for faceoffs in the last couple of games, but still heads over to the bench to grab his woodie for regular play.
🥍 Ben Austin scored the late goal to make it 8-6 on a wide open break away after sneaking up the floor for a breakout pass. He was being rewarded by the lacrosse gods for a fantastic shift on defence on which he stuck with Winter Rivera and fought through a pick to eliminate any shooting chance for the Six Nations Rivermen.
🥍 Randy Chrysler Jr had a great game in net for the Tomahawks. He doesn't get a lot of opportunities to play but he had a huge night. If you watch the videos when Tuscarora is playing, you'll generally see Randy Sr in a seat behind the net off to one side. Randy Sr, who was the head coach of the Jim Thorpe All Americans in the PBLA and was announced yesterday as an assistant coach for the Haudenosaunee women's team for the 2024 World Lacrosse box championships. Randy Sr always cheers on the Tomahawks passionately, but he may have been a little extra excited to see Randy Jr play so well at the Prezzy.