This weekend, the Premier Lacrosse League held their first All Star weekend. The venue of Banc of California Stadium was the perfect spot to hold the first inaugural All Star weekend for the sport of the future. The night was split up into two sections; the All Star game, followed by the competition portion of the night, which consisted of fastest player, fastest shot, freestyle challenge, goalie challenge and an accuracy contest. Lets breakdown how this weekend was a huge step in the right direction for this league.
Sorry one more thing before we dive into this, lets all take a second to appreciate that the league brought out Diggstape to all star weekend. One of the biggest social media presences in the sport looked like he was having the time of his life. Gotta love that the league is all for the fans.
The two teams were Team Rambo, captained by Matt Rambo of the Whipsnakes, and Team Baptiste, captained by Trevor Baptiste of the Atlas. The teams were drafted by the two captains from the pool of players who were selected from fan voting. This league is all here for the fans, just giving them what they ask for, something they have been doing right since day 1.
The game was full of fun changes that had fans excited. One of these changes was the names on the back of the jerseys. The last name had been replaced by the players twitter handle, which was a cool change to add for an all star game and was also pretty funny, for those who probably forgot that their name was since they haven’t used twitter since 2015.
This was a interesting move, as a common theme for the night was experimenting with certain aspects of other sports league, as you could probably guess, this idea was similar to what the NBA had done a couple years back, adding players nicknames to the back of their jerseys for a few games.
Another rule change incorporated from another sports league was the drop in face-offs. This was the same concept as how an NHL face-off is taken. It was interesting to see how it played out, as this was an idea many lacrosse fans were curious to see in a game setting for quite some time now.
The result was the fans were torn on how they felt about it. It was a great change to the game, and makes it more fair for a player to gain possession for their team, but the good old face-off is a crucial aspect to the game, and if it were taken away, an entire position would be taken away from the game, and making players like Trevor Baptiste almost useless to his team. My opinion: keep the face-off in, need to see my guy TB9 feasting on a weekly basis.
Another rule change in this game was the goalie throwing the ball out to a teammate after a goal, instead of starting the next procession with a face-off. This is a concept used in many younger summer or indoor leagues, to simply keep the game moving. It was great to have some flashbacks from my playing days, but other then that, again, nothing can replace a good old fashioned face-off.
One thing all fans expected to see is jaw dropping plays, and the all stars did not disappoint.
A very special shoutout to the Godfather, Paul Rabil, whose around the world pass was seen around the world, as it was the number 2 play on Sportscenters Top 10 plays on Monday. Dudes still got it, looks like the front office isn’t take much time away from his work in the lab.
The All Star Games MVP was Jack Concannon of Team Baptise. Jack made 6 saves in the fourth quarter. Jack has been stellar in the net all season, awesome to see him be the first All Star MVP, maybe we’ll see him hold an MVP trophy come the end of the season??
The second half of the night was the skills competition. The first event was the fastest player. This was another concept that had been seen in the NHL’s all star weekend. The players must run the length of the field and back while carrying a ball in their cross. The Archers Dan Eipp had won the competition in a photo finish, beating Brent Adams and Sergio Salcido of the Redwoods.
The next event was the Freestyle completion. This event is similar to the NBA’s slam dunk contest, as players try to do the most creative moves possible to get the ball in the net. The creativity was not lacking, as the participants had some crazy moves to get to the rack. Ryan Drenner had dunked between the legs, Scott Ratliff dunked with his long pole over a kid he brought out to help, Ryder Garnsey brought out 2 sticks and a basketball hoop (like what?), and the winner Justin Gutterding had some fancy stick skills to seal the deal.
Next was the accuracy contest. Another concept taken from NHL’s all star contests, skeet targets were step up in the corners of the net and along the pipes, most targets hit wins, simple enough. This contest had some of the most accurate shooters in the world with Ryan Brown, Marcus Holman, Will Manny and Deemer Class all participating. In the end, Marcus Holman came out on top, as he blew apart almost all his targets in the final round.
One event that I thought was interesting was the goalie competition. Tim Troutner, Kyle Bernlohr, and Blaze Riordan all went head to head to see who can kale the most saves. I thought this was cool because this was an event that hadn’t been done in other leagues, so it was fun to see who can stop the most point blank shots. Only appropriate to have the sharp shooters from the accuracy contest fire away at the goalies. Tim Troutner was named king of the goalies, making 9 saves on 12 shots in the final round.
The last contest of the night was what everyone had been waiting for, the fastest shot competition. Who doesn’t wanna see the best of the best fire away as fast as they can? The contest came down to Connor Buczek and Jarrod Neumann, we went back and fourth in scores at 113 mph and 114 mph! Finally, Neumann cranks home a 115 mph shot, and in the process, broke the head of his stick. We had seen him all year drop bombs, but this was just STUPID!
To wrap this whole thing up, I thought this weekend was a huge success, and was another great step taken by the league. These events truly displayed the excitement the game can bring and the unbelievable talent that is in this league. Being in LA to grow the game, having football AND lacrosse legend Jim Brown come speak to the players before the game of how they have the opportunity to do something really special, and big personalities that are always on display, really opened peoples eyes and helped create the image that this can become as people want it to be.
Cannot wait to see the second half of the season, and all the growth that will come with it.