As the countdown continues towards the start of the New York Riptide’s inaugural NLL season, training camp began this past weekend including an open practice at NYCB Live, Home Of The Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. Thirty seven players took part in the first weekend of training camp and they had an opportunity to check out their home venue, break in the new turf, and to experience some of the amenities that they’ll enjoy during the season.
Approximately 500 fans came to the open practice and saw the Riptide go through a blue vs orange scrimmage. After the workout, it was time for the fans to meet the players as box lacrosse was back at the Coliseum for the first time since 2006. There was also a practice at the Coliseum on Saturday morning as well as a workout at the team’s Mitchel Field practice facility on Sunday morning before the first weekend of training camp in team history came to an end.
All in all, it was a tremendous success.
“I thought it went awesome,” said General Manager and Head Coach Regy Thorpe. “Just the opportunity to get into the historic Coliseum, see our locker room, our players’ lounge, coaches’ room and the new turf to be on the floor, it was just an awesome experience. To have some of the fans out there, the meet and greet and to give them a little taste of our team and to meet some of the players which was awesome. A great first step for the organization.”
By the end of training camp, the Riptide will get down to an opening night roster of 25 players when they begin the 2019-20 season on Saturday December 7th on the road against the Halifax Thunderbirds. A combination of rookies, expansion draft picks, and free agent signings competed hard over the weekend and put on a great show for the fans in attendance at the open practice.
There were plenty of goals, nifty passes, hard hits, great saves, and yes even a training camp fight as the fans witnessed all of the components of indoor box lacrosse.
“The compete level was cranked up,” said Thorpe. “Obviously being on the big floor first training camp guys are fighting for those roster spots figuratively and literally. We need that type of energy every weekend.”
The Riptide had their first year players participate in the rookie tryout camp the week before, but this past weekend was the first time that the rookies and veterans were on the field together at the same time including first round picks Tyson Gibson (1stoverall) and Tyson Bomberry, the 10th overall selection in the first round. It was a weekend of hard work but also some fun as the team attended a New York Islanders hockey game at Nassau Coliseum the night before the open practice.
“It was awesome to meet the fans and be in the Coliseum,” said Bomberry. “It was cool to see the energy that can be brought to that building and I’m excited to be playing there. I’m excited to come in and try to make my mark on the league. We have some veteran players and I’ll try to learn from them and hopefully become the best defenseman I can be for the team.”
The rookies were very impressive over the weekend and so were the veteran players, those who were taken in the expansion draft as well as the free agents that were signed. It’s clear that the 2019-20 Riptide will have a nice mix of youth and experience with the veteran players like defensemen Dan MacRae and John Ranagan along with forward Tyler Digby leading the way on and off the field.
“Our leadership group of Dan MacRae on the backdoor and Tyler Digby on the front door and John Ranagan as well…it was just really good to see them lead,” said Thorpe. “Certainly, our veteran leaders stood out for sure. We were really happy.”
MacRae was taken by the Riptide in the fourth round of the Expansion Draft. The nine-year NLL veteran captained the Calgary Roughnecks to the NLL championship last season and is going to be looked upon as a key contributor for the Riptide in their expansion season. The former Rochester Institute of Technology star was excited to get his first taste of the Nassau Coliseum, a building with a rich history of indoor lacrosse as well as the winning tradition of the NHL’s New York Islanders.
“It’s really special,” said MacRae. “You see that it’s a hungry fan base for a team to have success in their community. For me, I think it’s a huge honor to even step foot in that barn. You look up at the banners and some of the names of the retired players, the championships that are hanging from the rafters there. It’s very humbling and it’s very motivating to see that there’s space for a few more. Talking with the guys I said hey it would be great to one day be a part of having a Riptide logo getting up there.”
MacRae and the Riptide will continue training camp Friday at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo along with the Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Knighthawks and Colorado Mammoth for a weekend of practice and scrimmages. Thirty-three Riptide players will arrive in Western New York on Friday night for a team meeting. Then on Saturday morning, the Riptide will go through a practice and that’s followed by a scrimmage against Rochester that evening.
It’s a great opportunity for the Riptide to see how they stack up against the NLL’s other expansion club.
“We’re excited,” said Thorpe. “We expect a competitive scrimmage out of Rochester and we’re just looking forward to getting in there and banging around with them.”
The weekend in Buffalo is a business trip as the Riptide continue training camp. There certainly could be some down time to chow down on some Buffalo Wings but the bottom line is going to be getting on the field and getting before the games start for real in December.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Bomberry. “I think it’s going to be the first step towards working on our chemistry and working on the little things that’s going to help our team get better and better. I think playing in a place like Buffalo is going to be really cool.”
During the first weekend, the Riptide practiced against themselves and scrimmaged against themselves. But this weekend, they will finally get to be together as a team and face another club with different uniforms.
“I think you really start to build comradery when you’re all finally getting on the same team and you get to beat on somebody in a different jersey,” said MacRae. “I think this will be great and we’ll really start to gel as a team, build that chemistry and getting used to guys that you’re going to be playing with all year long.”
The Riptide will close out their weekend in Buffalo on Sunday with a practice and that will be followed by a team meeting. Then the staff will trim the roster down to somewhere between 26 and 29 players before next weekend’s scrimmages against the Philadelphia Wings and New England Black Wolves in New Jersey.