A perfect fit.
For team and player.
That’s the ideal combination for a successful draft choice. And that’s exactly what the situation was when the Roughnecks traded up with the Georgia Swarm to pick right-hander Tyler Pace with the ninth-overall selection in the recent NLL Draft.
“Honestly, it’s a dream come true,” Pace said after being selected on draft night. “If it was to be to one team with certain players and coaches that I’ve played with before, it was Calgary. I’m really excited that I’m getting this opportunity.”
During his junior career with the Coquitlam Adanacs, Pace played under Riggers coach Curt Malawsky on the right side with fellow forward and current Roughnecks sniper Wesley Berg.
He joined Berg at the University of Denver, where the pair played a big role in the team’s 2015 NCAA Div. I national championship. Pace finished his career with the Pioneers ranked ninth all-time in points with 155.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to most,” said Pace. “I know it’s a new thing that I have to adjust to, but having those familiar faces is going to be big starting off.”
But although he’s played on offence with Berg for most of his life to this point, that won’t be the case when he begins his NLL career.
With three offensive players already pegged to play on the right side for the Necks – Berg, Curtis Dickson, and Tyler Digby — there aren’t many minutes available out the front door. So, the Roughnecks coaching staff and Pace have decided that he will begin his Riggers tenure as a transition player.
“We know what he can do. He’s a guy that can go out the backend and create transition and stay and play,” Malawsky said. “With expansion coming up, you never know what will happen, but he’s a guy that could be a full-time player in the NLL out of the front door. We will probably start him out of the back door, being that’s the dynamic up front, but if someone has to stay and play up front, he’s more than capable to do that. We talked him into playing out the back door and he said, ‘Coach, I’ll play wherever you want me to play.’ He’s another one of those guys that really, really cares, just like (Zach) Currier. To have guys in the room that have that passion, that compete, will do whatever it takes and are proven winners with a good pedigree, that’ll only bode well for our group.”
When given the chance to control the ball, the Mission, B.C., native can make things happen. With the Adanacs, Pace recorded 188 (89g, 99a) regular-season points and 178 (84g, 94a) playoff points across five seasons.
“I’d say that I’m a passer-first type player,” said Pace. “I think that will work great playing with guys like Berg, Dickson, and Digby. I pride myself on my lacrosse IQ. I know a lot about the game, the ins and the outs. I guess what the fans can look forward to is a player that will do whatever it takes for the team to be successful.”
But not only can he contribute on the stat sheet, he brings with him some intangible characteristics that should benefit the team.
“I think that winning attitude,” said Pace about the way he approaches the game. “I don’t accept mediocrity from myself and I try to relay that on to my teammates. Even though I’m young, maybe I can bring some leadership to the group. Give them some intensity or some emotion that maybe was missing or that they just need some more of.”
The 22-year old missed his entire summer season with the Langley Thunder and was unable to showcase his abilities at the senior level.
“We knew that a guy like Tyler Pace, if he had played all summer, he probably would have gone much earlier in the draft,” admitted Malawsky.
“I am excited,” Pace said of getting back to lacrosse after a summer injury. “I’m fit, I’m healthy, I’m finally ready to be playing full tilt here, so I’m really excited about it.”