Many players take different paths to the National Lacrosse League, in the case of Buffalo Bandits’ second pick in the 2013 NLL draft Mitch Wilde, his ride has taken many stops. The Oshawa,ON native began his junior career with the Green Gaels of the Ontario Jr.B Lacrosse League. After an Ontario Championship and trip to the Founder’s Cup Finals, the Green Gaels traded Wilde to the Orillia Kings in 2010. After a 53 point season while playing both sides of the ball, Wilde made the jump to Junior A with the Whitby Warriors.
Finishing off his career with two Minto Cup appearances, including one Canadian Championship, the former Robert Morris Colonial was selected 11th overall to the Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks in the 2013 Major Series Lacrosse draft. In his rookie campaign, the 6’1 transition player sat out in the first game of the season as a healthy scratch, but in the second game of the season Wilde earned his chance to play.
Head coach John Lovell had Wilde slated to be a healthy scratch, but when a fellow Kodiak d-man couldn’t make it to the game, Wilde was in. The whitby Warrior product was solid in his MSL debut but his big moment came in the final three minutes of a tied ball game. Wilde darted down the floor after netminder Mike Poulin made a save and led Wilde with a perfect outlet pass. Wilde caught the pass mid-stride and found the back of the cage after a beautiful shot fake. Wilde would go on to play 19 straight games while posting five goals and six assists and being a rock on the back end for the Kodiaks.
Wilde helped his draft stock raise after an outstanding NLL combine and prospect game. Wilde has tremendous upside with size,athleticism, tenacious defending and a great lacrosse IQ. The 15th overall pick was drafted right after former Whitby teammate Nick Diachenko was selected to Buffalo. The pair of tall speedsters fit perfectly in the tough-nosed defensive system of the Bandits. Although it was a long journey, Wilde has made it to his last stop to his ultimate goal of playing for an NLL team.
I was fortunate enough to talk to Wilde on his draft night and talk about his future with the Buffalo Bandits.
1. How does it feel to get drafted into the NLL?
It’s a feeling that’s tough to put into words. Moments like getting your name called by the Buffalo Bandits is something you dream about as a kid and for it to become a reality for me is a completely surreal experience, and one I’ll treasure for my entire life.
2. If you could choose one word to describe your game, what would it be? Why?
Athletic. I’m a player that plays all over the floor whether it’s pressuring an offensive guy in the defensive end or running the ball in transition and staying in the offensive end, I like to think of my game as very athletic and dynamic.
3. What do you need to work at to not only crack the Bandits roster, but to become a everyday impact player?
I think the big things I’ll notice when making the transition to this league is the speed and strength of the players, the overall talent level of the players and their lacrosse IQ. To help benefit my transition it all starts in the weight room and on the field. Getting those crucial lifts in every week and getting out on the field doing sprints and working on footwork drills, along with that eating healthy too is crucial. Also trying to get in film as often as possible along with a daily wall ball ritual will definitely help with improving my IQ and my overall lacrosse skill.
4. How do you feel you will fit in with Rich Kilgour’s tough and big Bandits defence?
I think it will be a fun experience to get to play with a ton of new players I’ve never played with. I love the tough and physical pressure defence, it’s what we played in Whitby and what we used in Kitchener too, so I’m definitely excited to be apart of there defence for sure.
5. With players like Thorimbert and Bryan that you played with this summer, do you think it will make the transition easier to the Bandits?
I think it’ll definitely make me more comfortable, getting the chance to know those guys and guys like Wilson, Dhane Smith and Critchy this summer was an awesome experience and getting the chance to play with them was an even better experience since they’re all great players. So overall I feel like it will help for sure.
6. Do you feel your draft stock was raised because of your performance at the NLL combine? If so, would you recommend future prospects to take place at the combine?
I think it definitely had a good factor with where I went in the draft. It was a good weekend to show not only what I can do on the floor but off the floor as well with the physical testing. I put in a ton of effort preparing for that weekend and I’m glad it paid off. I think a big thing players need to consider is how fun of an experience the combine really was as well. Some players may overlook it, but for me my mentality was it’ll not only be a chance to play another day of lacrosse and get myself better but it’s a opportunity for you to experience a professional sport combine in a professional setting which for me is a memory I’ll never forget.