Mike Poulin, the starting goalie for the Georgia Swarm, smiled in front of the camera as he was about to make lacrosse history in Saskatchewan.
With his goalie stick leaning against the wall behind him, Poulin made the first three Swarm draft picks and at pick 13, he grinned.
“This is an exciting one. With our fourth pick, we pick Laine Hruska from the Whitby Steelhawks and the Saskatchewan SWAT.”
That made Hruska the highest-picked Saskatchewan-born and trained player to be drafted into the National Lacrosse League (NLL), and also the first to go in the first round in the 2020 draft, held Sept. 17.
With the selection, Hruska joined some heady company as just the third goalie to be drafted in the first round over the last decade, joining Dillon Ward of the Colorado Mammoth and Evan Kirk of the Saskatchewan Rush.
But, even as Georgia came on the clock for the fourth time of the first round, Hruska didn’t have any expectations, despite the quality talks shared with the team leading into the draft.
“There wasn’t really any speculation as to where I was going,” Hruska said. “I was just seeing what the night had to offer, and just eventually when my name was called, that’s when the time was right.”
Although the goalie didn’t expect to be picked that high, his new general manager wasn’t going to let him fall to another club.
“A lot of people think that he’s the goalie of the future in our league,” said John Arlotta, Swarm owner and general manager. “I really felt all along that 13 was the place that I wanted to pick him.”
Regardless of where the 19-year-old Hruska was taken in the draft, it’s had no effect on his mindset going forward.
“Obviously it’s an honour to be taken so high, but, no matter if it’s first overall or last, I’m still going to put in the same amount of work and prepare myself,” Hruska said.
It’s this attitude displayed by Hruska that made it too difficult to pass on him in the draft.
“(He’s) very mature for his age, very humble,” Arlotta said. “I felt he would fit in our locker room, and has the kind of character that we wanted.”
That should come as little to no surprise to fans of the Swarm. Arlotta has had a message printed down the team’s tunnel to Infinite Energy Arena floor: “It takes talent to play in the NLL, but it takes character to play for the Swarm.”
Although Hruska has shown high levels of talent and character, don’t expect to see him between the pipes for the Swarm next season. The team already has one of the league’s best veteran tandems in the crease with Kevin Orleman and Poulin, the smiling man who picked Hruska in that history-making moment.
“They’ve got two really strong goaltenders who I’ve been watching, growing up as goalie,” Hruska said. “So, being able to be underneath them, and have them as my mentors for the next oncoming years, is really exciting, and I’m really grateful to have it.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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