ALL West hands out year-end awards

by Gary Ahuja

Sea Spray's Gordie Phillips was named Most Valuable Player for the Arena Lacrosse League West Division. Garrett James photo

Gordie Phillips, Brandon Humphrey, Jake Foster and Nick Scott were honoured with individual awards as the Arena Lacrosse League West Division concluded its inaugural season.

All four players were top 10 selections back in November as the four ALL West Division teams drafted their respective rosters. Foster and Humphrey were each first round picks, taken third and fourth, respectively, while Phillips went in round two (eighth overall) and Scott was a third-round pick at 10th overall.

Phillips took home the Most Valuable Player Award as the 25-year-old right-handed transition player from Port Coquitlam was a dominating presence in the face-off circle. With leading the way, the Sea Spray earned possession on 65 per cent of the face-offs he took, but that is only part of what made Phillips such an effective player.

“Not only is Gordie the best face-off guy in our league, but he is also extremely savvy on loose balls and very strong on the ball,” said Sea Spray coach Russ Heard. “He’s also very good offensively with great touch around the net and a very good defender.”

Phillips finished with nine goals and 26 points in a dozen regular season games as the Sea Spray finished atop the ALL West with a 9-3 record. He added two goals and five points in the playoffs as his team won the ALL Western Division Championship, defeating the Black Fish in the semi-final and then edging the Grizzlies in the best-of-three championship series.

Grizzlies' Brandon Humphrey. Garrett James photo

The Grizzlies’ Brandon Humphrey – who is from Calgary but now lives in Burnaby -- was recognized as the ALL West Most Outstanding Goaltender.

The 25-year-old goaltender was second in both goals against average (12.12) and total saves (238) while finishing tied for third in save percentage (.770) in the regular season. Those numbers were even better in the playoffs as Humphrey played all four games and finished with a 9.58 GAA and an .843 save percentage. In game two of the ALL Western Division Championship series, Humphrey made 61 saves to give his team a chance as they lost 14-13 in overtime. Shots on goal in that game were 75-45 for the Sea Spray.

“Humps has worked super hard and studied film, building on his already very full skill set,” said Grizzlies coach Rob Williams. “He was the backbone of our team and a leader in the dressing room … a fantastic teammate and friend.

“The season he had should open eyes in the National Lacrosse League.

Shooting Eagles' Jake Foster. Garrett James photo

Another Calgary player – the Shooting Eagles’ Jake Foster – was recognized as the Offensive Player of the Year Award after he led the league in goals (30) and points (73) while finishing second in assists (43).

The 24-year-old right-handed forward averaged 6.1 points per game and scored on one of every four shots he took. He scored in all but two of the 12 regular season games for the Shooting Eagles, and in each of those games, he registered five assists.

“Jake’s a player who is learning to use his body more in the fast-paced NLL-style game and has the vision and smarts to see the gaps when he wants to drive or shoot while crashing through it full speed,” said Shooting Eagles coach Adam Smith. “He can follow a play or go off-script and rarely drops a ball or misses a pass.”

Smith also lauded Foster for his leadership.

“Jake is also a guy who takes the offence under his wing and is leader both on and off the floor and is a player that has an exciting career ahead of him,” Smith said.

Black Fish captain Nick Scott. Garrett James photo

And the Defensive Player of the Year Award went to the Black Fish’s Nick Scott, a right-handed transition player from Pitt Meadows. Scott was also the captain of the Black Fish and finished the season with a goal and three points in 10 games.

As a young player – he is only 22 – Scott can still make mistakes, but Black Fish coach Rod Jensen said Scott more than makes up for any gaffes he may commit.

“What easily makes up for his mistakes is his relentless effort and desire to compete. It is easy to fix mistakes but hard to teach effort and desire,” Jensen said. “He has good feet and can pick up players anywhere on the floor.

“Nick had a great attitude and positive leadership on and off the floor (and) he will continue to get better at the little things and will no doubt in my mind play at the highest level.”

The final award was presented to the Russ Heard, Andy Ogilvie, Blair Bradley and general manager Warren Goss as the Sea Spray were recognized as the Coaching Staff of the Year after leading their team to a 9-3 regular season record.

General manager Warren Goss (left to right), assistant coach Andy Ogilvie, head coach Russ Heard and Blair Bradley.