The New York Riptide have their first franchise victory.
The expansion Riptide came out on top during a coin flip against the new Rochester franchise to determine choosing rights for the upcoming National Lacrosse League Entry and Expansion Drafts.
The official coin flip took place on Saturday at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo during halftime of Game 1 of the NLL Finals, presented by Michelob Ultra. The Riptide logo landed face-up, giving New York the option to claim the first pick in one of the two upcoming drafts.
Riptide Assistant General Manager Lance Basler was in attendance and chose the first pick in the 2019 Entry Draft. New York Head Coach and General Manager Regy Thorpe said his team was delighted to have the option and explained how research guided them towards choosing entry over expansion.
“If you look back at the last nine to ten years, most of the first (overall) picks have panned out pretty well in the NLL,” Thorpe said. “We just did a case study and obviously we like those odds.”
Rochester, which received a new expansion franchise after the Knighthawks moved to Halifax to become the Thunderbirds following the 2018-19 season, will receive the second pick in the 2019 Entry Draft and the first overall pick in the upcoming expansion draft. New York will pick second in the expansion draft.
“To be honest, I was coming into this thinking there’s benefits of both,” Rochester General Manager Dan Carey said. “I don’t think there’s disappointment. I just have to be as prepared as possible. I would have liked to have had the first pick in the entry draft, but I think the first player in the expansion draft is going to be a great player as well.”
Both teams will stock their rosters with players from the two drafts. The expansion draft will involve only New York and Rochester. The entry draft will include all 13 teams in the National Lacrosse League.
New York and Rochester are hoping to follow similar paths that Philadelphia and San Diego did a year ago as expansion teams.
“With the expansion rules changing a couple of years ago,” Thorpe said. “Now you can only protect a certain amount of front-door players and back-door players so it certainly gives the expansion teams an opportunity to have success early.”
The Philadelphia Wings played competitive lacrosse though the 2018-19 season, winning four games in its inaugural campaign. The San Diego Seals did even better, qualifying for the playoffs after an impressive 10-8 regular season record.
Next year might be more difficult to duplicate San Diego’s expansion success with two additional teams vying for the same number of playoff spots. But expectations remain high.
“It’s going to be different each year with more teams moving forward,” Carey said. “For us, we’re going to approach it in what we think is best short-term and long-term for our organization.”
Thorpe said he was excited to begin forming his roster, while keeping a close eye on the talent in the Riptide’s back yard in lacrosse-crazed Long Island.
“Oh, we’re pumped,” Thorpe said. “That Long Island-New York-New Jersey area has such a rich tradition and history of lacrosse. Some of the best players in the world are from that area for both indoor and outdoor. We’re excited to go through the people that are living around there and hopefully find a few diamonds in the rough.”
Entry draft and expansion draft details will be forthcoming but until then don’t forget to check out Game 2 of NLL Finals, which will be at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Saturday at 9:00pm ET. Coverage will begin 30 minutes prior to game time at 8:30pm ET with NLL Finals Pre-Game LIVE, available to B/R Live subscribers and simulcast on the NLL’s social channels via Facebook Live and Twitter.