The National Lacrosse League revealed the winners of the 2019-20 NLL End of Season awards on the evening of Tuesday, Jun 30, and three Georgia Swarm players won their respective categories. Forward Shayne Jackson was named the NLL Most Valuable Player, goaltender Mike Poulin tied with the Toronto Rock’s Dan Dawson for NLL Teammate of the Year, and forward Lyle Thompson won the NLL Sportsmanship Award.
Jackson becomes the second Swarm player in franchise history to be honored as NLL MVP, joining Thompson (2017) in this exclusive club. Poulin is the only player to win Teammate of the Year three times since the award was introduced in 2015, and his win marks the third time a Swarm player has won the award in the last four seasons (Poulin in 2017, John Ranagan in 2019). Thompson has won the Sportsmanship Award for the past three seasons, becoming the only player to win the award that many times and consecutively since the award was introduced in 2002.
“We are so proud of the awards won by our players this season,” Swarm Owner and General Manager John Arlotta said. “Having the best player in the league in Shayne Jackson, while at the same time seeing Mike Poulin and Lyle Thompson win two character awards, is truly inspiring for our organization and our fans. This says so much about the talent and the character of our players.”
Jackson, 29, led the Swarm in points with 73 (31G, 42A) and was on pace to obliterate his career-highs in those offensive categories before the 2019-20 NLL season’s cancellation. The Limestone College alum also posted a 20.8 S% and collected 65 loose balls. He is the Swarm’s second MVP in team history.
Out of Bowmanville, Ontario, Jackson was also bestowed 2019-20 NLL All-Pro First Team honors. This is his first time receiving such honors, and he was previously named to the 2017 NLL All-Pro Second Team and the 2013 NLL All-Rookie Team, accolades he earned while with the Swarm.
“Shayne was the model of consistency this season,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “Playing consistently at such a high level is what MVPs do. Not only how he played, but how he practices and trains provides leadership to our team that produces results for himself and the Swarm, and his efforts make his teammates better. We are very happy for Shayne to receive this much deserved award.
“It’s a great honor to be named the 2020 NLL MVP,” Jackson said. “To be selected by coaches, GMs, and owners who we battle against is very humbling. To win the same award as players I idolized growing up like John Tavares, Gary and Paul Gait, Jim Veltman, John Grant, Jr., and Colin Doyle is something very special to me.
“I want to thank the Arlotta family and the whole Swarm organization for everything they have done. To Eddie Comeau, (Swarm assistant coach) Dan Ladouceur, (Swarm assistant coach) Sean Ferris, and every single one of my teammates, this would not be possible without you. I am very lucky to play and battle with you guys every game, and without you, this achievement truly would not be possible. Thank you very much. And a special thank you to my family for their love and years of unwavering support.”
Poulin, 34, is the only three-time winner of the NLL Teammate of the Year, and the 2019-20 tie with the Rock’s Dawson is a first for the award.
The Kitchener, Ontario native won the award twice before, in 2017 with the Swarm and 2016 with the Calgary Roughnecks. He finished the 2019-20 NLL season with a 7-4 record, 10.15 GAA (a new career best, minimum of 500 min. played), and .786 SV% across 679:59 min. of play. His win marks consecutive seasons that a Swarm player has won the award, following former Swarm defenseman Ranagan’s win in 2019.
“I’m honored to receive the Teammate of the Year award with Dan Dawson,” Poulin said. “I take great pride in trying to be a good leader and teammate, and to be recognized by my fellow players is pretty cool. I spent the 2009 season with Dan Dawson on the Boston Blazers, and I saw firsthand what a great teammate he is. I learned a lot from him, so to share this with him makes it more special.”
“Mike jokes about wanting to wear a ‘C’ on his jersey, and while goalies are not allowed to do this, he provides leadership to our team in many ways,” Comeau said about his starting netminder of the past four seasons. “His recognition by his peers around the league as Teammate of the Year is an indication of the respect he has along with his ability to be a team first player over many seasons in the league.”
Thompson, 27, has now won the NLL Sportsmanship Award for three consecutive seasons, and the Sportsmanship Award has been claimed by a Swarm player each of the past four seasons (Jordan Hall in 2017). The University at Albany finished his 2019-20 campaign with 60 points (27G, 33A), 85 loose balls, and 8 caused turnovers.
“When people talk about playing the game the right way, that describes Lyle’s style of play very accurately,” Comeau said. “He plays the game hard and gives his best, but more importantly, does so in a way that is respectful to all involved. He is truly a role model for all of us in the game. Young players try to emulate his skills, but lacrosse would be better served if all players emulated his respect and sportsmanship.”
“It is always an honor to represent the Georgia Swarm in this way,” Thompson said. “It is a result of what the coaches and ownership have built We have a whole team of character guys, and just like John always says, ‘It takes talent to play in the NLL, but it takes character to play for the Swarm.’ So, I’m proud to represent. I also want to give recognition to the other nominees, Curtis Knight (Rochester Knighthawks) and Kyle Buchanan (San Diego Seals), two guys that truly play the game with a clear mind, positive attitude, and respect. Those are the types of players I have always admired.”
Callum Crawford for the New England Black Wolves and Rob Hellyer for the Toronto Rock were the other two finalists for the NLL MVP award.
Ranagan with the New York Riptide was the other finalist for the NLL Teammate of the Year Award.