Kieran McArdle is coming home, and New York Riptide coach and general manager Regy Thorpe believes it will revive his professional lacrosse career. The Riptide, an expansion team in the indoor National Lacrosse League, selected McArdle in the sixth round of the NLL Expansion Draft Tuesday afternoon in Philadelphia.
McArdle, a Ronkonkoma native who went to Connetquot High School and St. John’s University, spent the last three seasons with the Toronto Rock. The forward had 12 goals and 28 assists in 17 games last season.
“I don’t think he’s played his best lacrosse in the indoor yet,” said Thorpe, who raved about McArdle’s upside. “I just think he has a couple more levels to go. Although he’s had a moderate-to-successful three years in the league, we feel that he really needs to take the next step. We feel that we can help him be that kind of player on the floor that we feel he can be.”
The Riptide will begin their inaugural season in December and will play home games at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. Thorpe thinks that a return home will spark McArdle’s professional career.
“I think his best lacrosse is ahead of him and he’s willing to do the work,” Thorpe said. “He’s going to be a good addition to our organization.”
The Riptide and the Rochester Knighthawks, another expansion team, each selected 11 players from a pool of unprotected NLL players. They will round out their roster in free agency, which begins Aug. 1, and the NLL entry draft on Sept. 17 — which features college, junior, and senior players that have run out of NCAA eligibility.
The Riptide, who selected second in each round, took forward Jordan Durston with their first pick. Durston had 15 goals and 32 assists in 18 games with the Buffalo Bandits last season. Each existing NLL team was only allowed to lose two players. Because the Knighthawks chose Buffalo’s Shawn Evans, the Riptide were almost forced to take Durston, Thorpe said.
“He was in our top three or four,” said Thorpe of Durston. “But, with Rochester taking [Evans], we had to take a Buffalo player or they might have went right back to Buffalo and closed them out. It moved Durston up to one because they took [a Buffalo player] first. We were kind of forced into it, but he was one of our top picks.”
Thorpe continued: “He’s a real gritty player that gets to the middle of the floor. I think he’ll be a fan favorite. He’s pesky, draws penalties, gets inside, and is a guy that we feel can really help with the DNA of our offense.”
The Riptide also selected defenseman John Ranagan (Georgia Swarm), forward Connor Kelly (San Diego Seals), defenseman Dan MacRae (Calgary Rough Necks), defenseman Jeff Cornwall (Saskatchewan Rush), defenseman Mike Manley (Halifax Thunderbirds), forward Dawson Theede (Halifax Thunderbirds), forward Tyler Digby (New England Black Wolves), goalie Alex Buque (New England Black Wolves), and forward Jean-Luc Chetner (Vancouver Warriors).
Although the Riptide are an expansion team — a term typically synonymous with futility — Thorpe believes they will compete right away.
“It’s obviously tough, being an expansion team, but we want to battle for a playoff spot,” Thorpe said. “We feel that [taking] the right steps through the expansion draft, free agency, and the entry draft, we can put [together] a team that will compete for the playoffs. That’s what our goal is.”