In his third season in the NLL, Randy Staats scored 30 goals for the third-straight time and finished in the top 4 in Swarm points for the third consecutive season, as well.
Many players would take Staats’ 2017-18 season and consider it a successful one. 30 goals in 16 games, 69 points, cutting down on penalty minutes, helping a team climb from last to first in six games, all signs of a productive season.
But for Staats, the expectations are much greater, none as high as what he places upon himself.
“There’s a guy who’s so very hard on himself,” Swarm assistant coach Dan Ladouceur said. “I really try to work with him on that about the process and not results. It’s getting opportunities and then being patient. Yeah, they’re not falling, and that’s frustrating, but the great players, the mature players work through that and battle that sort of internal adversity. Really trying to work with him on that because he is a great player.”
Injuries in the middle of the season took their toll on Staats, and he missed two games when he was placed on the Injured List. Upon his return, Staats put up three goals and an assist against New England before a three-point night against Toronto. But when the Swarm faced Saskatchewan in April, it felt like Staats fell back into his groove as he put up 8 points (4G, 4A) against the eventual 2017-18 champs.
“Honestly, I’ve had a little bit of an off year,” Staats said after the win in Saskatoon. “I think I was getting too far into my own head a little bit. I think me preparing differently before the game and kind of just having some more fun with it and working hard and doing the little things, and obviously my teammates getting open and feeding me obviously helped me out a great deal. I think for me personally, it was good just to take a step back from everything and come into the game focused and ready to have fun.”
Staats with a towering shot | Photo credit: Kyle Hess
Heading into next year, it’s about remembering that feeling for Staats. You don’t set a NLL-record 95 points as a rookie without having a wealth of talent in you. Injuries in the 2017 season wore on Staats, despite the fact he was outpacing his rookie numbers.
If Staats remembers that feeling, gets back into that dangerous swing and swagger of his, then there’s no telling how dangerous he can be.
Best Game of the Season:
The Rush were the best team this past season, but on April 14, Staats and Lyle Thompson had their number.
What was particularly impressive was how dangerous Staats was on the powerplay. Georgia as a whole was not terribly effective while man-up this past season, but that night, Staats was the dagger for the Swarm during those situations. Three of his four goals came on the power play, nearly half of his total PPGs for the season.
His first PPG was nothing short of a laser and a good indicator of what was to come that night. With Sask being hit with a 2 min. illegal substitution bench minor penalty, the Swarm went on the man-up down 1-0 halfway through the first quarter.
Ryan Dilks was defending Staats up the middle when Staats used a slick dodge to pull a step away from Dilks. Miles Thompson set an aggressive pick on Dilks, and Staats used the provided opening to nail in a towering shot. Goaltender Evan Kirk thought it was going five-hole and moved to block there, but stopped halfway when he realized the ball had already passed his left elbow.
For his helpers, three of them were primary, and one came during Lyle’s shorthanded goal. Staats was swinging the ball well that night, a good indicator of what him on his game can accomplish.
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