Making the switch from hockey to lacrosse?
No sweat for rookie Chad Cummings.
After finishing off his hockey career at Brockport College, the 2012 fourth-round pick made the decision to give professional lacrosse a chance. Cummings impressed in his first training camp, showing off his natural gifts of size and speed. The 25-year-old was immediately injected into the starting line-up and was a solid contributor from Day 1. Even though he experienced a bit of a learning curve, he was quickly able to pick things up and adjust to the NLL game.
“It came to me more naturally as the season went on, I wasn’t out there thinking as much, I was reacting,” admitted Cummings. “It came easy to me at the end, knowing where I had to be, what kind of check to throw, when to open and stuff like that. I think moving forward, into my next year, it’ll come easy to me because I know the system. I’m really looking forward to what happens in the future here.”
The 6-foot-5 defender tallied seven assists and 61 loose balls, while playing in all 18 games for the Riggers in 2017. Battling against the league’s top right-handed scorers on a nightly basis, Cummings held his own in year one.
“I thought I did a decent job out there and I tried my best every game,” said Cummings.
And he couldn’t have done it without some veteran teammates to help show him the way.
“Being a first year guy, I couldn’t have asked for better teammates to show me the ropes,” Cummings said. “I can’t thank the guys in this room, this organization, enough for giving me a shot to play in this league. It’s a dream come true to get my first NLL season under my belt.”
Although he had a successful freshman campaign, in terms of personal performance, Cummings was left dissatisfied by the team’s end result.
The rookie took it hard when he realized the team wouldn’t be making a run in the post-season for the first time since 2002.
“That’s a huge blow, right there,” Cummings said of missing the playoffs. “As a first-year guy, you don’t want to be the one who misses the playoffs and ruins the streak. Being the new guy, it’s tough not to see the team get there. It’s the expectation, to go and compete for a championship every year.”
“It was heartbreaking once we saw Vancouver won that game. As a new guy, I was banged up and tired and upset to see that,” said Cummings. “You wonder if you’re the reason, but I didn’t take it on my shoulders, completely. We’ve got a good group of guys in here and there’s always next year to get back into the playoffs and push for a championship once again.”
Missing the playoffs this season has certainly left a chip on his shoulder.
“All you want to do is play in the playoffs next year,” Cummings said. “To come as close as we did and blow it in the last couple games, the biggest thing on my mind is all playoffs next year.”
And to help them make that push next season, Cummings will try to get better over the summer and come back ready to battle in a tough West Division.
His goal is to improve in the one area where he did nothing in 2017: scoring.
“Another improvement would be my offensive game,” Cummings acknowledged. “I think I hit three or four posts this year and that’s just a matter of inches. You’ve got to get chance to score goals and I could push the ball a bit more and find more space out there to try and get some more balls on net. Hopefully I could put a few more in the net next year instead of seeing a bagel in the goal column.”
Cummings will be keeping his stick in his hands this summer when he suits up in the Major Series Lacrosse League. He doesn’t yet know who he’ll play for, but he believes he will be back.
He has played the past four summers with the Cobourg Kodiaks.
“I will probably be playing out east, I’m not sure where yet but I plan on playing,” said Cummings. “You’re playing against some of the guys in the NLL and it keeps your hand in the stick in your hand, keeps you in shape.”
“Maybe I can find that scoring touch this summer,” joked Cummings.