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Hall of FameHistoryStories/Op-Ed

Making a Case for Each Hall of Fame Nominee

The National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame will have a new class of inductees for the first time since 2016 this summer. That’s a lot of lacrosse history to get through.

That’s why the list of finalists is long and has some of the most important names in the history of the sport, and there’s a case to be made for all of them. The Hall of Fame tells the story of the history of the sport through its players, and each and every one of these finalists are integral to telling that story.

Mike Accursi (Ontario, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Edmonton): “No Mercy” Mike Accursi was one of the faces of the Bandits for years before a stint with the Knighthawks, then back to the Bandits. Currently a coach with the Halifax Thunderbirds, Accursi won back-to-back Champions Cups with Buffalo and Rochester in 2007 and 2008 and two more with Rochester in 2012 and 2013.

Jake Bergey (Philadelphia): You can’t talk about the best Americans to play in the NLL without Jake Bergey’s name coming up. His number is already retired in Philadelphia, he is the second leading scorer in Wings history. The Wings are one of the historic franchises of the league, and even after they relocated, the new version has still honored Bergey.

Colin Doyle (Toronto, San Jose): Two players stand out above the rest in Toronto’s mid-2000s era. Hall of Fame goalie Bob Watson, and Colin Doyle. Doyle, who retired after the 2016 season, won the 1999 Rookie of the Year Award and went on to earn one league MVP and three postseason MVPs. Doyle is tied for the fifth-most games played with Mark Steenhius at 266. His 1,384 career points are fourth all-time in league history, and 857 assists are fourth all-time.

Kevin Finneran (New England, Detroit, Philadelphia, Toronto): One of the most prolific field lacrosse players of the early 2000s, Finneran was a pioneer for American players in box lacrosse. He won four titles in his 10 seasons with Philadelphia, and another in his lone year with the Rock.

John Grant Jr (Rochester, Colorado): John Grant Jr is one of the most prolific players in the history of pro lacrosse, period. His impact on the game cannot be overstated. He set an NLL record with 116 points in a season in 2012 and holds the Rochester records for goals (347) and points (719). From a league perspective, Grant is second all-time in points with 1,446 and goals with 668. He also holds most of the Knighthawks single season offensive records, including goals (54), assists (60), and points (111). Grant holds the Knighthawks record for most points in a single game (15) and has been named league MVP twice.

Casey Powell (Rochester, Anaheim, Orlando, Boston, Colorado): Arguably the best American in the history of box lacrosse, Powell changed the NLL. He was the first American player to be named NLL MVP in 2010, when he played for Orlando and is the all-time leading scorer by an American player in league history

Mark Steenhuis (Columbus, Buffalo): One of the elite transition players of the 2000s, Steenhuis was key to Buffalo’s run in 2008, earning the title game MVP. Originally drafted by Columbus, he spent 16 of his 17 seasons in Buffalo. He was the 2008 NLL Transition Player of the Year and the only player to ever be named MVP of multiple All-Star games. His 266 games played is tied for fifth all time with Colin Doyle and 459 goals scored is sixth all time. He also has a sixth-best all-time 1,641 loose balls.

Shawn Williams (Toronto, Rochester, Edmonton, Buffalo): Williams is a six-time NLL All-Star is seventh all-time with 257 games played. He has scored the eighth-most points in league history with 1,152, all while being one of the historic faces of the Knighthawks franchise. He is ninth all-time with 444 goals and seventh all-time with 708 assists.

Sandy Chapman (Toronto): The leader of the Toronto defense during their historic era, Chapman played 17 seasons, 13 of them with the Rock. He led the Rock to four NLL championships and won one with Rochester. He his 10th all time with 252 games played. He won the league’s defensive player of the year in 2010.

Glenn Clark (Toronto, Philadelphia): The current head coach of the Albany FireWolves was a three-time All-Star with Philadelphia and Toronto and was a part of five championship seasons with the Rock. The defenseman retired after the 2006 season to take over as head coach, but before that had posted 557 career loose balls in 92 games.

Ryan Cousins (Columbus, Arizona, Minnesota, Rochester): Cousins capped off an 11-year career by winning a Champions Cup with the Knighthawks. The former defender had a knee injury the season prior, and almost didn’t play his final season, but ended up earning a title. He played most of his career with the Swarm, where he earned the 2007 and 2008 Defenseman of the Year award.

Pat McCready (Charlotte, Buffalo, Toronto, Rochester): Another one of the faces of the Knighthawks most recent era, McCready is seventh all-time with 1,593 loose balls. His 468 penalty minutes are also seventh most all-time. McCready was a part of the 2012 champion Knighthawks.

Billy Dee Smith (Buffalo, Rochester): Now an assistant coach with the Halifax Thunderbirds, Smith was one of the most iconic players of his era. The defenseman spent 15 years with the Bandits and was a part of their 2008 championship. He earned the 2009 Defenseman of the Year award and served as Bandits captain in 2016.

Regy Thorpe (Rochester): With 966 career loose balls, Thorpe is one of the most prolific defensemen in Knighthawks history. He spent his entire 15-year career with Rochester, where he won a championship in 2007 as the team’s captain. Thorpe was also the first player-GM in the history of the NLL.

Steve Toll (Toronto, Rochester, Colorado, Edmonton, San Jose): Toll is eighth all-time with 1,562 loose balls. In his 16-year career, he finished with a remarkably low 83 penalty minutes. Toll won the first-ever Transition Player of the Year award in 2007 and won four titles with the Rock and one with the Knighthawks.

Brian Voelker (Philadelphia): Voelker is already a member of the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame. In his seven-year career with the Wings, the defenseman picked up 130 loose balls in 54 games. He was also a part of three championship seasons with the Wings.

Cam Woods (Albany, San Jose, Toronto, Chicago): Woods is 10th all-time with 1,371 loose balls. He was the co-recipient of the 2004 Defenseman of the Year Award, and was captain of the Albany, San Jose, and Chicago organizations for seven seasons. Woods won his first Champions Cup with Toronto in 2011.

 

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