In Game 2 of the Peterborough Lakers vs. Ajax Rock playoff series this past summer, Swarm rookie defenseman Alex Crepinsek impressed lacrosse fans with his defensive effort against one of the game’s most potent forwards: John Grant Jr. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound defender locked down the Lakers forward, who coach Joe Sullivan describes as the best player in the world.
“When a guy shuts Grant Jr. down that’s definitely something that demands attention,” Sullivan said.
That’s exactly what Crepinsek did, holding the 2012 NLL MVP to just one point on the evening. In the 2012 reuglar season, Grant Jr. tallied a league record 116 points (50g, 66a) over 14 games.
“It was a pretty good feeling,” Crepinsek said. “I thought I played a good game against him and it worked out. He didn’t put the ball in the net that night. I just tried to stay with him the whole game.”
Coach Sullivan noted that watching Crepinsek lock down Grant directly impacted his draft stock; Minnesota selected Crepinsek with the 10th overall selection in the first round this past September. “Nobody holds John Grant Jr. to just one point,” Sullivan said.
While Sullivan has coached against Crepinsek, several members of the Swarm have been teammates with him in the past. The Oakville, Ontario native has played with fellow rookies Brock Sorensen (Edge Lacrosse) and Kiel Matisz (Burlington Jr. A), and shares deep ties to the Swarm’s top draft pick last season: Jordan MacIntosh.
“I’ve played with Jordan for as long as I can remember, since I was eight or nine years old,” Crepinsek explained. “We’ve played box lacrosse together at Burlington, field lacrosse at RIT, and not only do I love playing with him, he’s one of my best friends as well.”
Sullivan said the Swarm did their homework on Crepinsek prior to the draft and spoke to MacIntosh as well as several of Crepinsek’s former coaches and teammates. “All the feedback we got was positive,” Sullivan said. “We truly got the right guy in Alex.”
However, compliments from previous coaches and teammates were not the only things that influenced the Swarm’s decision to draft Crepinsek. In addition to his rousing performance against Grant Jr., Sullivan explained that the RIT graduate’s showing at the NLL combine was equally impressive.
“He worked harder than anyone on the floor and truly showed us what he is capable of doing,” Sullivan said. “A lot of guys didn’t go to the combine because they didn’t want to risk injury and that didn’t slow him down one bit. I’m sure there were a lot of teams behind us hoping we wouldn’t take him and we’re thrilled to get him.”
Sullivan has high hopes for the defender, but emphasizes that he’s going to ease Crepinsek’s transition into the league.
“He’s a guy that in time will be a shutdown defender, but we’re going to bring him in slowly and let him understand our system before we put those responsibilities on him,” Sullivan said. “I know what he can do, I’ve seen him do it, and I’m going to expect nothing less.”
When asked to sum up Crepinsek’s game in one phrase Sullivan said, “hard-working”, indicating that he could adapt to the NLL game quickly. Crepinsek could have an immediate impact sooner rather than later, particularly with best friend Jordan MacIntosh helping him adjust to life in the NLL. “He’s already been helping me out a lot with preparation and what to expect from training camp and going into the season,” Crepinsek said.
The pesky defender shrugs off all the hype and compliments, however, pointing out that he’s grateful to have the opportunity to play for the Swarm.
“I’m just excited to get a chance to play in the NLL with the best players in the world and be around people that love the game of lacrosse,” Crepinsek said. “It’s the highest level of box lacrosse you can play and I really can’t wait. I’m just excited to get a shot, because I’ve been working toward this for a very long time."