Once a grounded Wing, Vernon’s Brodie MacDonald is now on a momentous Rush.
Earlier in the week, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound netminder was part of a six-player National Lacrosse League deal between the Philadelphia Wings and Edmonton Rush.
The Rush dealt captain Brodie Merrill, a two-time National Lacrosse League transition Player of the Year, along with forwards Dean Hill and Mike McLellan, as well as a 2011 fifth-round pick and 2013 fourth-round selection to the Wings.
In addition to MacDonald, who turns 22 in September, Edmonton acquired forwards Athan Iannucci and Alex Turner, both of who play alongside MacDonald on the Langley Thunder in the Western Lacrosse Association.
The Rush also receive 2012, 2013 and 2014 first-round draft selections.
The trade came as a relief to MacDonald, who was stuck in limbo as Philly’s No. 3 keeper.
“I was very happy with the news, as I had asked to be traded and was glad it was to a western team.
“Edmonton is in need of some solid tending. I’m hoping to backup and bide my time and try to get the starting job in the near future,” said MacDonald, who was selected 19th overall by the Wings in the 2010 NLL entry draft, and second overall by Langley in the WLA draft.
If the much-needed change of scenery wasn’t good enough news, McDonald’s week got even better when he was named the WLA Rookie of the Year Thursday, just days after he helped the Thunder sweep the Victoria Shamrocks in the league semifinals. They will face the New Westminster Salmonbellies, who grounded the Maple Ridge Burrards in the other series.
MacDonald posted a 6-2 regular-season record, along with an 8.51 goals against average and .822 save percentage, in helping Langley secure a third-place finish.
“Its great to win rookie of year, especially in such a talented high-level league. I’m glad I could pull it off,” grinned MacDonald, a star with the Vernon Re/Max Tigers before he left to play junior A on the coast.
Regarding the next playoff round, he added: “We are a very strong, confident group of players, with more heart than I’ve seen on any other squad. There’s no doubt in my mind we have the tools to continue into the next series in the fashion we did with Victoria.”
MacDonald kept a tidy crease in more ways than one against the Shamrocks. In their final game, he gave his team a boost by getting into an early scrap with Victoria’s Brock Armour after he delivered a hard pick behind his net.
“I thought it would be a chance to set the tone. Every night my team goes to battle for me, so I did the same,” said MacDonald, who grew up learning the sweet science from his grandfather, the late Don MacDonald, founder of the Vernon Boxing Club.
Langley head coach Rod Jensen appreciates how MacDonald handled his adverse situation in Philadelphia.
“In Philly, he was their third-string goalie so he didn’t get much action. It was a terrible start for him. Now he’s going to get a fresh start in Edmonton. He’s coming into his own,” he said.
Even when MacDonald broke into the WLA this year, Jensen said it wasn’t without its challenges.
“The first few games he got lit up pretty good, but we’re talking about some of the best shooters in the world here. He made a good transition after that.”
And when the Thunder face the Salmonbellies in the final, it will be yet another test for his giant netminder.
“They’re a powerhouse team with good shooters, so he might get lit up. We’ll see what kind of character he has,” said Jensen.
“You’ve seen it in other sports – if you’ve got a good goalie and good defence, you can go a long way. We play a defensive style that keeps shots to the outside and he’s a big guy who covers the net so well.”
Just ask Shamrocks’ head coach Walt Christianson, who had never been swept in a playoff series.
“We just couldn’t solve the goaltending. I said (Monday) night, ‘If they didn’t have Brodie MacDonald, if they just had another average goalie in the league, we beat them 4-1,’”Christianson told the Victoria Times Colonist, following the Rock’ 13-8 Game 4 loss to Langley.