Josh Currier can finally stop worrying about whether he’ll be drafted to the NLL this year.
The 23 year old, who just finished a spectacular sophomore season with the MSL’s Peterborough Lakers, expressed before last Monday’s draft an uncertainty that any team would want him despite mock drafts placing him as high as seventh at one point. It’s not that he didn’t believe in himself. He’s just a truly humble kid.
He’s so humble that he won’t be the one to tell you that he scored 226 points in 71 games with the junior A Lakers from 2011-2014. In two seasons with the senior Lakers he has 56 points in 28 games, including 45 points this past season, when he finished fourth in team scoring.
He’ll deflect the attention to his teammates or coaches if you ask him about his head-turning play at Virginia Wesleyan College, where he finished as the ODAC’s all time leading scorer with 353 points in 65 games over the course of his NCAA career. He was the rookie of the year, player of the year twice, and was All-American all four years.
A week before the draft, the Peterborough native hadn’t spoken to many teams, least of all the Peterborough-connection heavy Rochester Knighthawks, but that’s who took him early in the draft at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville, exceeding everyone’s expectations at sixth overall.
“I’m super surprised,” Currier said. “I hadn’t really talked to them much so I didn’t see it coming at all. I thought I was going to be a second round guy but I’m really happy about this. Sixth overall, I could never have imagined that.”
Lakers GM and Knighthawks assistant coach Paul Day said the team knew days before that Currier was going to be their pick at number six.
“We need speed and we need someone who plays well without the ball,” Day said. “He makes everyone else better around him with his constant movement. He will also help get us loose balls and extra possessions.”
With four veteran righty forwards already on the Knighthawks roster, Currier might not crack the lineup right away, but when he does fans will be thrilled with his creative plays around the net and ability to score highlight reel goals.
“We have a lot of skilled offensive players and we will have an opportunity for Josh to get comfortable in the system and play his game,” Day said.
Advantages for Currier are already knowing what Day and head coach Mike Hasen will be expecting, and familiarity with a good portion of the lineup hailing from, or playing for, Peterborough.
“Knowing the coaches is really good. I love playing for them in the summer so I’m really happy that I get to play for them again,” Currier said. “I’m starting to train pretty hard already so I’m just going to keep that going. I want to be a big contributor on this team and help them win games so I’ll be working hard for that.”
He scored a lot of pretty goals for the Lakers in the summer but also showed a new toughness that no doubt helped raise his draft stock. He took on veteran agitator Billy Hostrawser in the first round of playoffs, and gave as much abuse back to Billy Dee Smith as he was getting from Smith in the second round. Clearly Currier’s strength is offense but having an all around skill set will only work in his favour.
He hasn’t fully discussed with management what his role will be for the Knighthawks, but, “They mentioned something – I think they’re expecting me to score some goals for them!” Currier chuckled. “So I’m hoping the bigger nets can help out and I can do that.”
He’ll also be good for the Knighthawk’s off-floor image. The team does a lot of work in the Rochester community and runs three outreach programs – Anti-bullying, Healthy Hawks, and Lacrosse101. Currier’s already shown he’s a perfect lacrosse ambassador in Peterborough for the Lakers, working summer camps and winter leagues. He’s a fan favourite among little Lakers fans for the time he takes to interact with them around the arena.
Currier had a lot of support with him on draft day, accompanied by his dad, mom, step-dad, grandfather, and sister. The Currier family is a close bunch and it was a special moment to share together.
“Look how many of them came,” he said happily. “It shows how much support I have back home so it’s easy to do well with that kind of support system. My brothers weren’t able to make it but they texted me right away. I have so much support.”
Brother Zach is finishing his senior year at Princeton and is already expected to be a first round pick in the 2017 NLL draft.
Even more special for Currier was sharing the day with a best friend he considers family.
Dan Michel, a 21 year old from Clarington, was drafted 38th overall by the New England Blackwolves. He and Currier have been friends since Michel moved to Peterborough to play for the junior Lakers at age 16.
“Josh really took me under his wing and welcomed me to Peterborough,” Michel recalled. “Being an outsider coming in he made it really easy for me and I grew really close with him and Zach. Some guys on the team used to joke around and call me the third Currier brother because we spent so much time together.”
“We are close,” Currier said of Michel. “It was awesome sharing the experience with one of my brothers.”
Being drafted “has been something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid, so to actually be here and get selected is a dream come true,” Michel said.
Michel had 24 goals and 24 assists for the junior Lakers this year and one assist for the senior Lakers in two games as a call-up. He graduates from the junior program as a three-year captain. He’s currently studying business administration at Trent while co-captaining the men’s lacrosse team, scoring 15 points in 7 games. The Excalibur are in the middle of a so-far undefeated season.
Michel participated in the combine prior to the draft where he was able to interview with several teams and show them his skills. He said his best interview was with the Blackwolves, and is happy he gets to be coached again by the Lakers Tracey Kelusky.
“He coached me my first three years of junior so I got to know him pretty well and I get to see him around the rink in Peterborough so it’s nice having him there,” he said. “I think New England is going to be a good fit for me. I’m just going to play my game, try to win every battle and every loose ball and give it my all in training camp and see what happens.”
Currier and Michel have nothing but praise for each other’s lacrosse game. It’ll be a new experience competing against each other, though.
“Dan’s a really hard worker and great teammate so he would do well no matter where he goes,” Currier said.
“It was a really special moment watching Josh being selected and being able to share that experience with him,” Michel said. “I know how hard he’s worked to get there and it’s awesome to see that hard work pay off.”
However far Currier is able to go in his lacrosse career, he’ll have his whole family – Michel included – as well as all the fans he’s already endeared himself to, cheering him on. They’ll make sure he stays that kind, humble guy from Peterborough.