Rock Claim Bronze At Presidents Cup!
Presidents Cup Day 7, Saturday September 2
The Ladner Pioneers are back to back Presidents Cup champions, and they are probably already thinking about keeping the Cup in Ladner for a third straight year when they host the tournament in 2024.
For now, they will enjoy the spoils of a hard-earned 2023 championship that culminated in a 12-8 win over the Edmonton Miners in the gold medal game at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre.
The bronze medal went to the host team as the Oakville Rock dumped the Snake Island Muskies 18-9 in the third-place game Saturday afternoon.
Let's take a look at today's 3 Stars, Unsung Hero, Quote of the Day, Thinking Outside the Box and Quick Sticks after the final day of the 2023 Prezzy.
3 Stars, Medal Day
1 Austin Shanks, Ladner Pioneers, 4 goals, 4 assists
Shanks led the game in scoring, but his most critical contribution came in the first period. Ladner led 4-1 after the first period; Shanks had 2 goals and 2 assists on those 4 goals. The score the rest of the way was basically even—each team scored 7 goals before Jeff Cornwall's empty netter wrapped things up. Shanks stood out on a star-studded lineup on Saturday.
2 Matt Beers & Jeff Cornwall, Ladner Pioneers
Holding Miners captain Mike Triolo was one of the most important things that Edmonton could do to secure the championship. Beers and Cornwall took on much of the responsibility for that task. Triolo led Edmonton with 2 goals and 2 assists, but Beers and Cornwall combined to keep Triolo from taking over the game the way he did in so many games this week.
3 Tyler Burton, Edmonton Miners, 1 goal, 1 assist
Triolo would be a good pick here, but he has appeared in the 3 Stars a few times and Burton deserves a turn. He played outstanding defence throughout the tournament, led by example with his work ethic and even scored a big goal when he snuck a shot around a defender and past
Nathaniel Woods, Snake Island Muskies
Woods is a gritty defender who is no stranger to the penalty box and also no stranger to winning. Woods earned 22 PIMs in the Prezzy, which actually pales compared to the 127 he drew between the regular season and playoffs while helping lead the Nepean Knights to the 2022 Founders Cup championship tournament. Woods was named the Knights' player of the game in their 7-6 gold medal game victory over the Coquitlam Adanacs.
Quote of the Day
Austin Shanks, Ladner Pioneers
On the Pioneers surviving the grind of Presidents Cup week.
We didn't drink all week, we really took care of our bodies, guys were ice bathing after every game. we rotated guys through the lineup and some good players had to sit some good games. That's just sacrificing for the team. We came together as a team, we did it as one unit.
On why he was reluctant to hoist the Cup above his head when getting his photo taken with the trophy after the game.
Because this Cup doesn't happen without everyone. I'm just a piece of the puzzle. Maybe this is my game where I'm on the score sheet but guys are doing the gritty work and the hard work. This isn't my trophy or my game. This is our trophy. So everyone gets a touch, everyone gets a kiss, and tonight the beers will taste better.
Thinking Outside the Box
Presidents Cup participants beyond the Prezzy
Players eligible for the 2023 NLL Entry Draft
The NLL Entry Draft came up above with the mention of Nate Woods. Well, the next big events coming up at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre are the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame Induction ceremony on Friday September 15 and then the NLL Entry Draft the following day.
Levi Anderson of the Edmonton Miners quite visibly raised his stock for this year's draft. He was already a projected Top 10 pick in my draft rankings, but he climbed to third in the latest public iteration of my list, which was published on NLL.com during the Presidents Cup. Anderson isn't the only player in the Prezzy who can expect to hear his name called early in the draft, although he is the only one who was able to play the whole tournament.
The Oakville Rock's Callum Jones is one of the highest-rated defenders in the draft, expected to be picked in the top half of the first round.
Four other members of the Rock are prospects for the draft, as well: Zack Kearney, Brett Handsor, Joey Szabo and Luke Robinson.
🥍 Caden Gulca, the Jr B defender, set a solid pick to free up Triolo from Beers' checking on the goal that pulled the Miners within 10-8 and gave them some hope midway through the third period.
🥍 Ryan Benesch expressed some displeasure with how he had played in the semifinal, even though he had 5 assists in the game. He stepped up in the final, scoring twice and adding 4 assists, including firing home the goal that stopped a 3-goal run for the Miners on Tyler Burton's goal to pull the Miners within 9-7. Benesch doesn't celebrate goals with gusto all that often, but he let rip a pretty solid fist pump after that one.
🥍 Sam Clare was an offensive player for much of his career. He switched to transition to try to earn a shot at the highest levels of the game. His speed makes him a natural for the transition part of that role, but he has worked hard to become a good defensive player. He showed in this tournament that he has achieved that goal; Clare was rugged and team-oriented in the defensive zone but still used his speed to create scoring chances and buried a couple of goals during the week.
🥍 Clare had the distinction of being the only player to take a penalty in the final. He actually took a pair, one for holding and one for cross checking. They were not terrible penalties to take, arising naturally from playing a tough game. Given that the Miners scored on both of their power plays, though, it was definitely a good thing that the Pioneers were able to avoid taking any other penalties.
🥍 Ryan Lanchbury had 3 assists in the bronze medal game, which was just enough to hold on to the top spot in the scoring race. Lanchbury would obviously trade the scoring title for the trophy if he could, but it is still a good accomplishment that he will be able to enjoy later.
🥍 The tournament heads to Lander next year, where the Pioneers will try to match the Miners feat of winning three in a row, which they accomplished from 2016-18. The Six Nations Rivermen won the trophy in 2015 and 2019, meaning that those three teams have now combined to win the last seven Presidents Cups.