In this editorial I thought I would look at how some of the brightest rookies have done so far in their first year in the NLL. Helping their teams to be contenders and eventual champions, all the while learning on the fly to be professional on and off the floor.
In his Junior A career, had 577 points on 213 goals and 364 assists in 98 regular season games and added 257 points on 95 goals and 162 assists in 45 career playoff games. In 2019, saw action in 18 games as a rookie for the Brampton Excelsiors in Major Series, finishing his first season with 80 points on 36 goals and 44 assists. Earned the Bucko MacDonald Trophy as the MSL’s regular season leading scorer and the Gene Dopp Trophy as the MSL Rookie of the Year.
Selected in the first round (1st overall) in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft. Three-time USILA All-American and a four-time Inside Lacrosse Media All-American. First player in Cornell University history to be selected No. 1 overall in an NLL Draft, and the third lacrosse player ever to be selected first overall in both indoor and outdoor professional lacrosse leagues.
To date, Jeff has 20 goals, 44 assists, with 66 loose balls, and one game winning goal. Always dangerous on the floor, Jeff has the ability to see the play developing before it happens, always seemingly in the right place at the right time.
Dodds was the 21st selection in the 2020 NLL Draft by the Calgary Roughnecks from the Victoria Shamrocks. Hailing from Victoria, British Columbia, Dodds led the Shamrocks to the Minto Cup in 2019. Claimed by the Panther City Lacrosse Club (PCLC) in the 2021 expansion draft, Patrick was expected to be a force on offense, and hasn’t disappointed.
Patrick has 19 goals, 36 assists, with 42 loose balls, and 2 game winning goals. An integral part of Dan Teat’s offense, Dodds has taken full advantage of his opportunity, being more and more the go to guy for Panther City.
The Bandits selected Nanticoke in the first round of the 2021 NLL Entry Draft (No. 3 overall). Nanticoke was the No. 1 high school lacrosse recruit in 2017 and played collegiately at the University of Albany. In 40 career games for the Great Danes from 2017 to 2021, Nanticoke recorded 170 points (109+61) and picked up 45 ground balls.
Nanticoke led Albany in goals (50) and points (82) as a freshman in 2018 and was named the America East Rookie of the Year. Tehoka was also named to the America East All-Conference First Team in both 2018 and 2019. A native of Six Nations, Ontario, Nanticoke was a member of the Iroquois Nationals at the 2019 World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor World Championships.
In the NLL Tehoka has 24 goals, 12 assists, 24 loose balls, and 4 game winning goals. Nanticoke has a very talented squad of players around him, which makes it even more difficult to stand out. Tehoka’s talent and drive have been a big part of the Bandits 9-1 start to the 2021/22 season.
An All-Time NCAA Faceoff Percentage Leader with Albany, Yale, and Denver, Ierlan won an unbelievable 75.3% of his faceoffs which is the highest by any player in NCAA DI history with 500 or more attempts.
Ierlan has faced Trevor Baptiste, Jake Withers, Jay Thorimbert, as well as Joey Nardella, the very best faceoff men in the game today. He has more than held his own.
As a faceoff guy, Ierlan doesn’t get the floor time the others get. TD makes the most of his time though. In his last game, Ierlan won the draw, scoring unassisted like an old pro.
TD’s stats… 1g, 1a, 61 loose balls, and going 150 for 254 on faceoffs for a a .591%. As TD gets more comfortable with the box game, he will be a major force in NLL for years to come.
The BCJALL Rookie of the Year with the Delta Junior Islanders in 2015 with 94 points, Leclaire also earned First Team All-Star honors and was the team’s offensive MVP. In 2016, he had 62 points in just 15 games due to national team commitments. In 2020, he was a compensatory selection by the Langley Thunder in the 2020 WLA Draft. Internationally, Leclaire represented Canada at the 2018 FIL Men’s Lacrosse World Championship, winning a silver medal outdoors in Israel. He had three goals and one assist in seven games during the tournament. In 2016, he also earned a silver medal with Team Canada at the U-19 World Championships. His 11 goals and three assists, including a hat trick in the championship game, earned Leclaire a spot on the All-World Team.
Collegiately, Leclaire sits second on the all-time list at Ohio State with 135 goals and his 173 career points is the sixth best in Buckeyes history. A three-time All-American and a two-time All-Big Ten selection, he earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors while setting an Ohio State freshman record with 49 goals. Leclaire scored at least 26 goals in each season of his career and was sixth in the country in career goals scored among active players through the 2020 season. In his COVID-19 shortened senior season, he led the Buckeyes with 34 points (26 goals, 6 assists) and ranked second in the Big Ten in total goals and third in goals per game at 3.71.
Leclaire has looked very comfortable in his first year, fitting nicely into the offensive schemes of the San Diego Seals.
Tre has 11 goals, 24 assists, 36 loose balls, and 1 game winning goal in his 10 game career. Being noticed in a sea of talent that San Diego has is already a feat, and Leclaire is only going to get stronger the more comfortable he gets in the NLL.
While there are many more rookies that have made their mark so far this year, these have risen to the top of their teams, putting them in conversation for Rookie of the Year of the NLL.
Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.
An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.
Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.
In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.
Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).
Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.