THORIMBERT FACES OFF AGAINST FORMER TEAM THIS WEEKENDFeatures | 3/25/2011 9:20:53 AM | Michael Jafari
Buffalo Bandits transition player Jay Thorimbert is working hard to make a name for himself in the National Lacrosse League, much like he did in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA).
It is almost a perfect coincidence that Thorimbert plays for the Bandits, as the face-off specialist had many ties to the organization even before he became a professional lacrosse player. He started off playing Junior-B lacrosse with the Niagara Thunderhawks, which was just a short drive from Buffalo. During his tenure with the team, he had the privilege of learning from a Buffalo Sports Hall of Famer and his future NLL coach.
“I got introduced to the sport when I moved to Niagara on the Lake. My friends introduced me to the sport when I was in the tenth grade. It was a small town so I was able to play with all the good players in the area which helped me develop. In Niagara, I played through the minor system up to Junior-B. Then I played in Junior-B for three years, in which one of those years I was coached by Darris Kilgour. After that I played one year of Junior-A for the St. Regis team and Kitchener before I was drafted by the Bandits,” reminisced Thorimbert.
After his junior lacrosse career, Thorimbert decided to play lacrosse for the University of Guelph, where he served as the team’s captain for all four years. When the season was over, Thorimbert would try to improve on his abilities by playing in Major Series Lacrosse, which he feels was essential to his transition into the National Lacrosse League.
“Both leagues were very good, because it helped me develop a lot faster because I was able to keep a stick in my hands throughout the year because once box finished, college lacrosse started. Keeping a lacrosse stick in my hands as often as I could helped me develop,” said the Whitby, Ontario native.
Thorimbert had a very rewarding career during his time with the Guelph Gryphons. During his four-year stint with the college, Thorimbert was named a CUFLA All-Canadian three times, as well as the league’s Most Valuable Player and Most Valuable Midfielder in 2008. With all the personal accolades aside, Thorimbert’s greatest accomplishment was when he led his team to the Begattaway Cup in 2008.
“It was really exciting, especially because a bunch of us guys came there at the same time, and we were trying to win that cup for all four years, which we finally won it in our final year,” recalled Thorimbert. “I never had a lot of points, but I did everything I could to help our team. All those awards and accomplishments were great, but we didn’t accomplish our team goal until my final year. The final year put all those awards to the side because all we wanted to do was win that cup.”
After finishing his college career on a high note, Thorimbert took his game to the next level. He was drafted by the Bandits in 2007, but didn’t join the league until 2009, when he played for the Boston Blazers. He finished the season with five goals, 12 points and 84 loose balls in 15 games as a rookie. He was traded to the Minnesota Swarm the following year, where he collected eight goals, 14 points, and picked up 152 balls. More importantly, Thorimbert established himself as a solid faceoff specialist.
“The only thing that was different (in Minnesota) was the traveling, plus playing other teams that you weren’t really used to playing. The traveling really was different for me because we lived in Boston, but we flew out to Minnesota. I knew the Head Coach, Mike Lines, pretty well because he was Kilgour’s assistant coach for the Thunderhawks while I was there, so that worked out well,” said Thorimbert.
Following the 2010 season, the Bandits knew they needed to improve on taking face-offs, which they acted on right away and acquired Thorimbert and defenseman Scott Self from the Minnesota Swarm in exchange for a 2011 second round draft choice and a first round pick in 2012. Initially, Thorimbert was not thrilled about being on the move for the third straight year, but his mood changed instantly when he found out he was moving closer to home.
“It was great news. I was actually on a trip when a friend of mine, who was hanging out with Bandits (associate) GM Derek Graham at the time, sent me a message saying he’s going to get me a suitcase because I get traded every year,” Thorimbert joked. “I was like, ‘I got traded again?’ I wasn’t too excited about it, but once I heard it was Buffalo, I got really pumped. I knew some of the guys, and I also knew they had a tight knit group. Darris is one of the coaches that got me to where I am now, and I was super excited to be close to home and having my family watch me play now.”
So far the transaction has paid off for the Bandits, as Thorimbert has won 60 out of his 110 face-offs while scooping up 55 loose balls in nine games this season. His presence has also had an impact on teammate Brandon Francis, who has won 75 out of 124 face-offs.
“I take a lot of pride in winning face-offs, because if your team has the ball the other team can’t score, so that gives me the opportunity to help my team win,” said Thorimbert. “I like taking face-offs, but it’s nice to see Brandon do so well this year because I don’t have to take every faceoff like I did in Boston and Minnesota. It’s nice to have another capable guy out there.”
When Thorimbert isn’t lining up for the draw or scooping up loose balls, he is working at his family’s business in Canada. The Thorimbert family owns Affordable Packaging (AFFPAC), which is located in Whitby, Ontario. Even though Thorimbert works at the office, he is working toward another career.
“My family owns a packaging company, where we package all sorts of things in Whitby, Ontario. I am currently working in the office while studying to be a firefighter,” said Thorimbert. “I graduated from Guelph with a degree in economics, but now I am taking an online firefighter course, and I will eventually go down to Texas for a practical course.”
The Bandits may need Thorimbert’s ability to put out fires for their next game when they take on the red-hot Minnesota Swarm on Sunday. Minnesota (5-4) is currently in second place in the West Division, and the Swarm is going into the weekend riding a two-game winning streak. Although Thorimbert will be lining up at the face-off dot against his former team, the transition player says Sunday’s game is just another day at the office.
“I don’t think it’ll be weird (playing against Minnesota), but it’ll probably be like Boston, because it’s just another game you have to win. It doesn’t really change things or make it different or weird at all.”
The two teams will lock horns on Sunday, March 27 at 2 p.m. inside the Xcel Energy Center. The bout can be seen on television sets nationwide, as the game will air on Versus Network.