CALGARY, AB — It’s an honour Shawn Evans isn’t about to overlook.
On June 25th, the National Lacrosse League announced that the Calgary Roughnecks forward was named as a finalist for the Most Valuable Player of the Year award.
“It’s a great accomplishment for me,” said Evans, who is joined by Mark Matthews of the Edmonton Rush and Ryan Benesch of the Buffalo Bandits as candidates for the award.
“To be recognized for your play. I’m just fortunate to be playing at a high level and to staying healthy. A big thing in our league is keeping our bodies healthy and making sure that we can perform every night. Also, I’m fortunate that I’m surrounded by some amazing teammates.”
For Evans, the nomination represents a scenario where he could win the award for the second time in three seasons. Evans also won the award in 2013, when he scored 32 goals and had 80 assists.
Evans welcomes the opportunity to add more hardware.
“It’d be a huge accomplishment,” he said. “It is something I strive for and I strive to be on top of my game, the best every time I play, and make my teammates better. It shows that I’m still going, I’m still improving and still getting better every year. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to keep my body healthy and keep performing at the highest level to help my team win.”
While Evans has been one of the leagues best scorers for many years, he took his game to new heights in 2015 in setting new NLL single-season records in points (130) and assists (83).
The increase in points is simply a matter of playing his hardest, coaching, and having talented teammates, he suggested.
“Good coaching, and being surrounded by good offensive players on our team,” Evans said. “We have a good structure around our team and Coach Malawsky gives me a little freedom and lets me be creative based on what the defence is giving us. So far it has worked out. I’m just hoping to keep things up and keep on moving.”
While Evans managed to put up historic numbers, Matthews and Benesch are both worthy candidates for the MVP Award, too.
Matthews recorded 53 goals and 62 assists to finish second in the NLL in scoring and led the Rush to their first ever NLL Champion’s Cup.
Benesch, meanwhile, scored a league-leading 55 goals and finished third in the NLL in scoring with 113 points.
Being nominated alongside these two talented players is a very humbling experience for Evans who is happy to be recognized for his efforts this past season.
“Those two guys nominated with me are two great ball players,” Evans said. “Matthews is an up and coming player and is still young. They won the championship this year. You can play good, but you have to perform in playoff time as well. When the game is on the line, you have to perform.
“Benesch put up over 50 goals this year too. That guy can put the ball in the net and do a lot of things on the floor.”
Though three deserving recipients, Roughnecks transition player Karsen Leung threw his support behind Evans.
“It’s incredible,” Leung said. “He had an outstanding year. I’ve only played with him for two years, but he’s a great player. He’s a great mentor as well. He always gives 100 percent on the floor, he’s a warrior, he wants to win a championship, and I really respect the guy.”