In a world of specialists and niche marketing, everyone has a defined role.
The New Westminster Salmonbellies for 2020 are making sure they have the right fit for the No. 1 faceoff job.
The team announced Wednesday the signing of faceoff specialist Joe Nardella, who currently plays with the National Lacrosse League’s New England Black Wolves.
The 26-year-old Worchester, Mass. native adds a valuable skill set to the team and frees up standout defender Mike Messenger to roam more, ’Bellies general manager Ray Porcellato said.
“(Nardella) is one of, if not the best, face-off guys in the game,” said Porcellato. “He’s the kind of piece that will help us get to another Mann Cup.”
An All-American during his college career at Rutgers University, Nardella has gone on to be an assistant coach at Harvard and set up his own lacrosse business centred around his special talent.
His Faceoff Factory (www.face-offfactory.com) is something the righthander will be bringing to the West Coast during his trips to play with New West, Porcellato added.
“He also plays in the field PLL (Professional Lacrosse League), so we expect him to be here for six-to-eight games, then here for the playoffs and on.”
He’s contributed two goals and three assists this season for the Black Wolves, where he plays with fellow ’Bellie Anthony Malcom, but Porcellato said his main purpose will be to give New West an advantage in the circle.
“If you can win 60 per cent of your faceoffs, that extra possession time works in your favour,” noted Porcellato. “We will be well-stocked in that department with him, Messenger and Tyrell Hamer-Jackson.”
Although Messenger won 53.6 per cent of his faceoff duties last year (186-of-347), Porcellato said it was important to spread that role around and free up the strapping 6-foot-2 defender from being the central faceoff man.
“It’s unfair to ‘Mess’ to be handed all those draws and then run all-out of the defensive gate,” remarked the GM. “(Nardella) is an elite faceoff specialist that can take the draw and chip in a bit elsewhere.”
The ’Bellies won’t head to camp for another six weeks, in preparation to launch the 2020 WLA season on May 21 when they host Maple Ridge.