Courtesy of www.insidelacrosse.com:
We all know the story of Corey Small, who tore an ACL in 2013 and missed the entire 2014 National Lacrosse League season.
Some guys who have walked these shoes come back with a new appreciation for the game, talking about how much they miss something that was taken away. There’s nothing to suggest Small had thoughts like this, but if his play is any indication, he came back to the game with a vengeance and reminded all of us why he certainly belongs among the game’s Top 50.
After 4 NLL seasons, all with Edmonton, the left-handed forward out of St. Catharines was building a solid rep as a reliable outside shooter who could pick corners with the best of them. When he came back in 2015 and was traded to Vancouver early in the season, it was game on.
Small finished with a career-best 75 points on 32 goals and 43 assists, then went to Victoria and scored 33 goals to clear the 30-goal plateau for the fourth straight Western Lacrosse Association season. But clearly, he wasn’t finished.
Scoring 40 points in 8 WLA playoff games (yes, 40) launched him into a Mann Cup performance that saw him pour in 25 points in 6 games to help the Shamrocks finally clear the hurdle and be crowned champs. So in 14 playoff games this summer, Small scored 30 goals and had 35 assists for 65 points.
Does anything more really need to be said?
Small’s an elite shooter in a game full of above-average talent. But he’s separated himself as a force to be reckoned with and the scary part is he’s just 27 years old. There’s more to come from Small, no doubt, and there’s little reason to think he won’t continue his climb up the list of Top 50 players in the years to come.
Small has always been a good player, but he’s stepped up his game the last few years in the WLA and is showing signs of producing the same kind of results in the NLL as well. After a couple of pretty good seasons in MSL, Small moved to Victoria to play for the Shamrocks and his career took off. He was sixth in the WLA in scoring in 2011 and has been in the top three in the league in each of the four years since then. Small scored at least 33 goals and at least 76 points in each of those four seasons, capping off the impressive run by winning the Mike Kelly Award as Mann Cup MVP this summer.
Success in the NLL has been more gradual coming for Small, but it has been coming and last year he posted career highs with 32 goals and 75 points. Small and Rhys Duch have shown they work together well with both the Shamrocks and Stealth; adding Garrett Billings to Vancouver’s roster provides optimism that Small’s numbers can grow even further. Small is a good outside shooter who doesn’t need the ball in his stick a lot to be effective.
Small was the 2015 Mike Kelly award winner at the Mann Cup, no small feat. Corey`s battle back from ACL surgery looks complete. Small is without a doubt one of the best outside shooters I have ever witnessed with his corner-painting abilities. Corey can be a deadly power play guy as he shoots and distributes well and he uses screens with the best of ‘em. This winter I expect Small will have his best season to date with his experience, confidence and health leading the way.
For being one of the nicer guys in the game, Small’s got one of the meanest shots you’ll see. And accurate. It’s tough to not root for Small, unless you’re an opposing goalie. He’s one of these forwards who should enjoy a long and productive career. Being a lefty helps, but he also knows his way around the floor and seems to be slicker than Teflon when it comes to avoiding big checks and hits to stay away from the type of beating other guys absorb.