As a Christmas present, I bought my sister The Book of Awesome. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote up my own list of awesome things and then started thinking about some lacrosse-related ones, so I decided to put them all together. These aren’t necessarily the best plays or even the most awesome moments in a lacrosse game – obviously your team winning a Championship or an overtime game is awesome, but that’s true in any sport. These are things that make lacrosse unique and make fans sit back, smile, and say “I love this game.”
A John Grant-style over the shoulder goal when you know it was not a fluky “let’s see what happens if I do this” type of play. It’s hard to believe that people like Grant, Doyle, Kelusky, and Tavares can actually aim while doing this, but some people are successful at it too often for it to be pure luck.
When the goalie grabs the ball and launches it most of the length of the floor to a teammate who catches it and scores. Some call it cherry-picking, others call it transition. Bob Watson used to do this to Jim Veltman all the time.
Getting a hug from the ACC usher at the first home game of the season. The same lady (Arlene) has worked our section for most of the last ten years.
Scoring a goal on a breakaway – when your team is shorthanded.
When a non-offensive defender scores on a breakaway. Not talking about guys like Steve Toll, Brodie Merrill, or Mark Steenhuis here, just talking about pure defenders who almost never see the other side of centre. We used to joke about big Dan Ladouceur scoring one goal every other year this way – he’d somehow end up on a breakaway, desperately look around to see who he can pass to and seeing nobody, shoot it himself. Sometimes he’d bury it, but even if he missed the net completely he’d get huge applause.
When a player turns his stick around and scores shooting the “wrong” way. Blaine Manning does this all the time.
When the “hidden ball trick” actually works. I’ve seen players try it many times, and the defenders always see it and point at the guy with the ball. But at the 2002 Heritage Cup game, Gary Gait and John Tavares did it to perfection, and the goalie and all the defenders followed Tavares who ran way off to the right side. Gait was all alone up the middle and just tossed it into the net.
Diving across the crease then shooting behind the goalie while still in the air.
When a defender intercepts a pass. Intercepting passes in hockey is no big deal but it’s way harder in lacrosse. Jim Veltman was a master at this. Actually, Veltman was a master at a lot of things. I miss him.
When a team honours a player on the opposing team. This isn’t unique to lacrosse, but it’s awesome anyway. Teams honouring former players that now play on the opposing team is classy. Toronto did this with all of their former players during their tenth anniversary season, Calgary did it with Tracy Kelusky this year, the Leafs have done it with Mats Sundin on his return, and I’m sure many other teams have done the same. But it’s even more awesome when the player has never played for the home team and is being honoured for a particular achievement or an outstanding career. I was at the first game Cal Ripken played after ending his seventeen-year streak, which happened to be in Toronto, and the Blue Jays honoured him. The Jays players all came out of the dugout to show their respect and Ripken got thunderous applause. A couple of years ago the Rock honoured Tom Marechek after he announced his retirement and the crowd gave him a well-deserved standing ovation. And let me tell you, Rock fans don’t stand and applaud Wings players all that often. I love seeing players show their respect by banging their sticks on the floor or the boards.
When your team scores and before the arena announcer has a chance to announce the goal, your team scores again.
The handshake line-up at the end of the game. Hockey players do it at the end of a playoff series. Lacrosse players do it after every single game. That’s awesome.