Features | 4/19/2013 9:57:34 AM | Alex Beilman
| Jordan Critch (Photo: Bill Wippert)|
Jordan Critch is not unlike most of his fellow rookies in the NLL. He began playing lacrosse at the age of four in his hometown of Orangeville, Ontario. He’s played box lacrosse at various levels since then, and started playing outdoor lacrosse at age 8.
He played for his hometown Orangeville Northmen at the Junior A and B levels before being drafted in the 2nd round (16th overall) in the 2012 NLL Entry draft by the Buffalo Bandits. He was happy and humbled to be selected where he was in the draft.
“I thought it was a pretty big deal. I wasn’t sure where I was going, I didn’t talk to a lot of teams before the draft,” Critch said. “I’d been to the games in Buffalo before and knew the atmosphere was pretty crazy.”
Another thing that excited Critch about being able to join the Bandits was the talent that was already here. Being able to play with talented and well-known veterans like John Tavares and Mark Steenhuis reminded Critch of admiring players like them as a kid.
"Years ago, being a kid, it seems like a dream come true, playing with the guys whose pictures were on your wall or you would watch videos of online,” Critch said. “When you actually play on the floor with them it doesn’t seem like much. Then you get to the bench and you’re like, ‘Oh, I was just on a shift with one of the best players in the world and that kind of takes you back.’”
Critch did not crack the lineup right away. He had to sit out the first 11 games of the 2013 season before finally getting a chance to play. He was held scoreless in his first two games before netting his first career goal against Minnesota.
“I wasn’t too sure that I was going to be playing. When I got the nod that I was going to be playing, I was ecstatic.”
It was his most recent game, a crucial 15-10 victory over Washington, where Critch stepped up and demonstrated his talent. He tallied two goals and two assists, as well as three loose balls.
The win helped keep the Bandits alive in the playoff hunt, and may have helped solidfy his spot on the roster heading into the 2013 season finale. He was recognized for his strong play with NLL Rookie of the Week honors.
However, his first NLL season is not the only thing that is winding down for Critch. He is in the midst of finals week at Guelpth University.
While it is not uncommon for NLL players to have played at the college level while in school, Critch is one of the few to attend school while playing at the professional level. An environmental engineering major, Critch says balancing being a professional athlete and a college student is not as difficult as one might imagine.
“I don’t find it too difficult. For me, it’s kind of like playing at school, and I’ve been balancing it my whole life,” Critch said. “I find I handle it well and school and lacrosse balance each other out on their own pretty well.”
An admittedly quiet person, Critch does not seem to worry too much about being overworked. He often keeps an even keel, and that helped him when he cracked the Bandits lineup while the team was trying to break a seven-game losing streak. It’s also what helped him seize the opportunity he got when head coach Darris Kilgour decided to give him some playing time.
“I had to kind of fight back the butterflies. After that first shift, I just kind of settled in and played lacrosse,” Critch said.
There is one thing that helps Critch stick our despite his demeanor and docile nature. In a game that often sees players follow superstitions, he has one that he hopes will help him in the final week of the regular season after his big game against Washington.
“I have a really mean mustache,” Critch said. “I decided to show it off to the guys this weekend. We really needed a win in Washington, so I decided to break out the mustache. We won and I’m going to be riding it hopefully through a playoff run.”