by Ron Duquette…….
In our last issue, I introduced that remarkable robot, hidden somewhere deep in the bowels of Peterborough’s Memorial Center, which appears to own the magic formula for developing pro caliber lacrosse players. The Long Island Tomahawks have certainly been on the receiving end of precisely the product our hero belches out at the rate of six or so a season.
A quick tally of N.L.L. talent shows that some 25 players of the approximately 180 in the league today, have eminated from the Peterborough mixing bowl. The bulk of them are wearing Philadelphia Wings sweaters while perhaps the greatest of all is Montreal Quebecois’ Johnny Davis, a Peterborough institution.
But undoubtedly, the cream of the crop is right here in Long Island. With two rookies and a pair of second-year men now carrying the banner well for the home town that taught them all the tricks of the trade. Jimmy Johnston, the undisputed world champion of stick wizardry, and loose ball expert, is expected to rate high this season as league rookie of the year. Because of hockey commitments and a wedding ceremony (his own), Jim will miss some 10 games during the regular schedule but still falls second in the team scoring race behind Doug Hayes.
Jan Magee, a potential all-star, has played for two seasons with a cast on one hand, the result of a broken bone in the wrist that doesn’t want to heal properly. This has definitely affected his shooting accuracy. Regardless, he has demonstrated superstar abilities and with a meaner, more aggressive defensive posture, will develop into a key Tomahawk for the future.
Goaltender, Tim Barrie, came into the lineup in his freshman season and stunned everyone with remarkable play. Although, during the preseason, he rated high in Coach Kells’ eyes, some questioned his abilities because of the championship team he had in front of him as a junior. This was soon to be proven wrong and although he has experienced a minor slump in the past few games, Tim is confident of getting back to his peak for the playoffs.
Defenseman, Len Powers, has returned to the lineup full-time, after an operation on both wrists. “He has made a tremendous difference on our defense,” says Kells. And his timing is near perfect. Lenny worked hard to keep in shape during his rehabilitation period and it is definitely showing on the floor.” All are products of a phenomenon . the Peterborough junior system which has dominated the Canadian lacrosse scene for the past five years.
But what of the reasons for this area’s incredible track record, a small city by most standards. While their minor systems methods appear excellent, there surfaces only one major similarity in the talent coming out of Canada’s hot bed. They all handle a stick exceptionally well. Beyond that, the players come in all shapes and sizes and offer a long list of other notable abilities. As well, coaching does not appear to be a predominant factor. It is a keen competitive feeling amongst themselves that is fierce and motivating. As Coach Morley Kells puts it, “a team full of good players simply creates more good players.”