HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
The National Lacrosse League has returned, after the later part of its 2019-20 season and its 2020-21 campaign were scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And superstar Callum Crawford of Stittsville, ON., is also back in the fold, but playing with a new team.
Crawford, who was a standout for the New England Black Wolves in the partial 2019-20 season, signed as a free agent with the second-year New York Riptide, which became his ninth team as he enters his 16th year in the NLL.
But Crawford, 37, isn’t the only NLL player with Ottawa connections. Thirteen players from the National Capital Region can be found on seven of the 14 clubs’ rosters.
When the NLL cut short its 2019-20 season, Crawford was one of the kingpins not only for the Black Wolves, but also the league.
Crawford won the scoring title with an 11-game performance of 33 goals and 43 assists for 76 regular-season points. That left him with a career-high 6.91 point-a-game average, which was slightly better than his previous best effort of 6.81 in 2019.
His offensive showing also made him one of three finalists for the NLL’s Most Valuable Player award and earned him a berth on his first NLL All-Pro First Team. On Dec. 27, 2019, he became the 11th NLL player to exceed 1,000 career points and he did it in phenomenal fashion with a career-best 14-point game on five goals and a lifetime-best nine assists.
When you review his NLL career as a whole, which started when he was drafted by the Calgary Roughnecks 18th overall in 2005 from the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League, his numbers are Top-10 quality. Crawford played his junior B lacrosse for the Gloucester and Nepean teams.
He is ranked eighth in career assists at 659 and 10th in points at 1,049. As for Top-10 single-season achievements, he’s tied for second in assists at 83 and tied for seventh in points at 115 (both, Colorado Mammoth, 2015-16).
The Riptide opened its 2021-22 season last Saturday and lost 13-12 in overtime to the Rochester Knighthawks. As expected, Crawford put some key numbers on the scoresheet: two goals, one assist, seven shots on goal and four loose balls.
Crawford was happy to be part of the Riptide rebuild and playing box lacrosse again, after more than 600 days without a game.
“We kind of got hints of having a season or a bubble of some sort,” Crawford told sportswriter Maki Jenner earlier this month. “My training approach is always the same in the sense I hit the reset button and grind, but it got hard to keep hitting the reset button, when things got postponed.
“It honestly made this reset difficult because you get pretty burnt out of training and training with no competition, so it’s really exciting to finally get back into it.”
Crawford enjoys the Riptide culture of everyone helping each other, which is something he does where he lives with his wife and two children in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is developing the game of box and field lacrosse with Riptide teammate Ryan Fournier of Ottawa. They are co-founders of Impulse Lacrosse, a youth program designed “to teach essential skills and instil the required work ethic.”
The program introduces Canada’s national summer sport to children as young as six years old and they can play right through high school. Thirteen players have been talented enough to commit to NCAA university programs over the past two years.
“We have taken the approach to do more than any other program in the country to help push our program further,” Crawford told Jenner.
“It has been rewarding to hear people say how impressed they were with the level of play from these kids. It’s really all credit to the kids because they want to learn and get better at this sport.”
The 2021-22 National Lacrosse League season opened last weekend and here’s a look at how the Ottawa and area players fit into the mix.
NEW YORK RIPTIDE (lost 13-12 to Rochester Knighthawks in overtime)
two goals, one assist, three points, seven shots on goal, four loose balls;
one goal, one assist, two points, three shots on goal, four loose balls, two turnovers;
injury-reserve list, did not play;
ROCHESTER KNIGHTHAWKS (won 13-12 over New York Riptide in overtime)
draft list, did not play;
TORONTO ROCK (won 10-9 over Albany Firewolves)
three shots on goal, two loose balls, one turnover;
ALBANY FIREWORKS (lost 10-9 to Toronto Rock)
Ohsweken, ON., Carleton University
hold-out list, did not play;
BUFFALO BANDITS (won 16-9 over Calgary Roughnecks)
four assists, four points, seven loose balls, three shots on goal;
did not play;
PANTHER CITY LACROSSE CLUB (lost 12-11 to Philadelphia Wings)
one goal, one assist, two points, one shot on goal, two loose balls, two turnovers;
one loose ball;
COLORADO MAMMOTH (won 16-11 over Georgia Swarm)
injury-reserve list, did not play.
SEVEN FIGURE SKATERS QUALIFY FOR CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Fifteen Ottawa and area figure skaters travelled to Regina for last week’s Skate Canada Challenge, which was a qualifying event for the 2022 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships Jan. 6-13 in the TD Place arena at Lansdowne Park.
Here is a club-by-club breakdown of the Ottawa and area results. The seven skaters with an asterisk beside their name will advance to the national championships.
GLOUCESTER SKATING CLUB
*David Shteyngart, novice men’s singles, 1st;
*Lilly Napier and Joshua Dore, novice pairs, 2nd;
*Reese Rose, novice women’s singles, 8th;
Mila Marleau, pre-novice women’s singles, 18th;
Lucille Yang, pre-novice women’s singles, 23rd;
Daniel Kreft, junior men’s singles, 23rd;
Gurshan Riarh, junior men’s singles, 24th;
NEPEAN SKATING CLUB
*Katherine Medland-Spence, senior women’s singles, 6th;
*Edward Wang, novice men’s singles, 17th;
Antong Hou, pre-novice men’s singles, 22nd;
PRESCOTT FIGURE SKATING CLUB
*Matthew Markell, senior men’s singles, 9th;
MINTO SKATING CLUB
Catherine Girard, senior women’s singles, 31st;
GLEN CAIRN SKATING CLUB
Mayka Bertrand, pre-novice men’s singles, 24th;
RIDEAU SKATING CLUB
Liam Carney, junior men’s singles, 19th.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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