May 4, 2012
Faceoff ace is Riggers X Factor
By TY PILSON, QMI Agency
CALGARY - In the NLL's version of The X Factor, Geoff Snider would likely be the winner.
He can play defence, score in transition, play an offensive shift or two when needed and, most importantly, dominate in the faceoff circle.
Lacrosse is a possession game. The more times you have the ball, the more times your team can try and score and the less times the other team has to try and score.
Snider is the league’s top faceoff man, and come Saturday night’s West Division semifinal playoff tilt at the Saddledome against the Edmonton Rush, he will play an important role, as usual.
The Riggers went 4-0 against their provincial rivals this year, with Snider winning 74% of the draws he took. That gave them a marked advantage over the course of a 60-minute game and helped them sweep the season-series.
“Momentum is a significant asset to have on your side in a lacrosse game,” said Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym. “Anytime we can control possession of the ball and therefore control momentum helps our success.
“Geoff is very, very good at maintaining possession after the draw, so we can get those extra offensive sets. You couple that with the competitive fire that man possesses, and there are few competitors, in any sport, that can match it, quite frankly.”
Snider chipped in three goals and eight points in the season series and is always a threat to score when he wins a faceoff and creates an odd-man rush. Those type of goals can really give a team a lift.
“They are energy boosts,” Pym said. “It helps electrify the bench when he does that.”
However, Snider — who was eighth in team scoring with 11 goals and 24 points in 14 games (he missed two tilts with injury) — said he knows his role isn’t to score goals. He’s instead focused on getting the ball to the team’s high-scoring forwards.
“It’s about getting our guys in a rhythm — facing off, getting the ball, making smart decisions coming out of our end,” Snider said. “We are facing a hot goaltender, a very good defence and a club that is well coached. So for us — and especially for me — it’s just about getting the ball and getting it into our offensive guys’ hands.
“If the opportunity is there and you can put the ball in the net, I want to take advantage of that, (but) our offensive guys are unbelievable. They are very talented, great players. There’s no sense in trying to force anything. If it’s not there, best to move it up to those guys and let them do what they are best at.”
When it comes to things guys are best at, Snider is also one of the top fighters in the league. In the past, he was quicker to drop the mitts in tilts. He’s made a conscious effort to focus less on that part of his game, saying he realizes he’s more valuable when he’s not in the penalty box.
That might be easier said than done. Having played each other four times in a 16-game season (a league high), the bad blood has built up in the Battle of Alberta.
“It’s pretty healthy. And not healthy in a good way,” Snider said. “The distaste for each other has grown to a healthy proportion. I think anytime you see a team four times over the course of a season, you get to know each other pretty well.
“For us, it’s just another game where we have to go out and make sure we use that distaste to our advantage. We have to keep our emotions in check and just play good lacrosse.”