Since the 2012 NLL regular season champion Toronto Rock were bounced from the first round of playoffs last season, the loss has been fresh in the organization’s mind. Toronto hosted to the 2013 NLL Entry Draft on Monday, September 16, at the Toronto Rock Athletic Complex, selecting six draftees hopeful to help the Rock return to the top of the league.
Toronto’s veteran roster has proved too difficult to crack for many past Rock draftees, however, in recent years the Rock have seen success from rookie draft picks such as Jesse Gamble.
“GM’s in our league do their homework” said Toronto General Manager Terry Sanderson. “These guys are really well scouted and you can usually leave the draft with two or three guys that you’ve watched all summer.”
With their first pick in the draft, ninth overall, the Rock selected Ethan O’Connor out of Hobart College. O’Connor is an athletic transition player who was named Major Series Lacrosse Rookie of the Year this past summer.
“We’re over the hill excited about Ethan O’Connor,” said Sanderson. “He’s a quality kid who had a great summer in Brampton, interviewed well, nothing not to like about the kid.”
Newmarket native Mike Woods was selected by Toronto in the second round. Though Woods has not played a significant amount of box lacrosse in recent years, the Rock have high hopes for the University at Albany grad.
“Mike Woods I think is going to be a surprise to a lot of people” said Sanderson. “He’s sort of been hidden in Albany for a couple of years but he played with me in Oakville this summer then came out to the combine and finished first in fitness testing, as strong a kid as I’ve ever seen.”
After selecting New Westminster’s Keegan Bal with the 25th overall selection, the Rock turned some heads with the 28th pick drafting Eric Law of the Denver Outlaws. The righty attackman comes off a successful MLL rookie season finishing with 34 points in just nine games played; however, the Denver native does not fit the box established profile of Toronto’s typical draftees.
“We’ve had a contact in Denver that kept phoning us saying ‘you’ve got to take a look at this kid’, so we thought we’d take a shot and see what happens,” said the Toronto GM. Adding, “but it doesn’t come with great credentials.”
Toronto rounded out their selections by choosing ex-Oshawa General and two time Minto Cup champion Emerson Clark from the Whitby Warriors, before closing out the draft selecting Alex Lubczuk out of Kitchener. Lubczuk is an under the radar selection who saw his stock raise after a hat-trick performance in the NLL draft combine. Toronto selected Kyle Belton in last year’s draft after an impressive combine showing, who went on to dress all but three games in his rookie season.
“The combine gives you an opportunity to see kids you maybe don’t see a lot of in the summertime” said Sanderson. “I hope it gets big enough that we would eventually be able to do one out west as well.”
Toronto’s draft picks will begin their quest to crack the 2014 Rock roster when training camp opens in late November.
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