Top 10 Players by Position – Modern Era
Submitted By: The Broomball Magazine on June 5, 2019 at 1:39:15 PM
Year in, year out, The Editors single most asked question is “who is the best
you have ever seen?"
Fearing the damage the answers could do to some of my more fragile teammate’s ego’s I always refrained from going on record. Now that I have put the shoes away, AND stepped out from behind the bench… fuck it, let’s roll!
For purposes of this discussion The Mag is only going to use players from the late 80’s on. There were many great players from the 70’s and early 80’s, but it was just a completely different game. A large inflated leather ball, free drawbacks, three different types of offside rules, very few tournaments, and mostly outdoor play.
We will stick with what I like to call the modern era, starting with the transition to the rubber molded ball, and the fairly standard set of rules that has been in play since 1990.
Remember, this is just The Mag’s opinion. We know a thing or two, cuz we have seen a thing or two (thanks Farmer’s!) but it doesn’t mean you have to agree!
1. Rich “Hodge” Schrick
The Big Dog was a lethal weapon. He was just as pleased putting you through the Zamboni gate as he was scoring a goal. What made him even better though was that he really got off dropping a dime on your stick for a tap in. UNSELFISH! Loved his team’s success, not his individual success. In The Mag’s humble opinion he played on the two greatest lines in American broomball history. First with Tom Thaden and Stewey Hansen on Hansen Sports, and then with Stewey and Joie Londino on USA Blue. Finished his career as a defensemen, where he was easily top five as well, but spent the majority of his career terrorizing opposing keepers and defensemen in front of the net. Silky hands, rocket shot, unequaled ice sense, and mean as a Texas rattlesnake. The total package. 11 time National Champion
2. Trevor Kelsey
Perhaps the greatest two way center in the history of the American game. A playmaker extraordinaire AND a top notch shutdown defender. As a penalty killer he was a constant threat to stick a shorty up the opponent’s ass. A World Champion with USA Red, a multi-time National Champion with Inferno, and a key component as a guest player in several of USA Blue’s championships against Canada’s top teams. The Mag has a sneaking suspicion however that Trevor’s favorite role was chasing the top teams with his buddies while playing on QA.
3. Stewart Hansen
If the game was on the line and you needed a goal to tie or win, #77 was the guy you wanted to have the ball. Slippery as an eel, Stewey could slither through contact like no other. Forget about it if you went short-handed against him. The one-timer from the left circle led to many glorious Stewey celeys. Nobody could put on a show like him after he scored a big goal. Hilarious if you were his teammate, thoughts of murder if you were playing against him!
4. Tommy Macalus
For those of you that enjoy Mac’s current on ice abilities, you should have seen him in his 20’s and 30’s! Playing now at age 54 he is still one of the top ten scoring threats in America. He was simply out of this world in his younger years. He comes from broomball royalty, winning Minnesota State Championships as a teenager with his father’s legendary Fred’s Tire teams. The guy never stops, never quits, and will play just as hard in an 11:30p Wed night scrimmage as he will in a major tournament championship. May very well have scored more goals in his thirty-five plus year career than any other player on the planet.
5. Tom Thaden
A dangler of epic proportions. At 6-4, 225lbs, he moved with fluid grace and broke many a defensemen ankles as he twisted and turned his way towards the goal. A laser of a shot from either side, big #66 never passed up a chance to let it fly from anywhere and everywhere. Perfected the hand move on a breakaway to any of four different finishes with it. He was a goaltenders worst nightmare.
6. Ira Hackner
Many loyal readers are going to say “What? Ira’s a defensemen?” While he has indeed reinvented himself since leaving USA Blue in 2004, the man that was known as “Magic” dominated the game as a forward with Tony Jaros in the late 80’s right up through the 2000’s with Blue. He did things with a broomball few others could replicate. Playing alongside Joie Londino with Jaro’s and Blue it was ridiculous to watch the things he could do.
7. Mick Sletten
The innovator of offense. Sletten’s unique running style let him turn a corner on a defender like no other. Mick possessed some of the quickest hands The Editor has ever seen. His Mr. Bob’s and Rockets teams were highly entertaining to watch, always producing high impact, pressing styles.
8. Joie Londino
Another great two way center, Tigger was as carefree as they come. Everything he did looked easy. Always in the right place at the right time, this master at dishing the ball off had great vision and game sense. The Mag often wondered just how immortal this guy could have become if he had been as committed to the sport as the others above him on the list.
9. Jacob Broten
Broten jumped right into the game at the highest level in 2001, coming straight from Bethel University’s IM program and an outdoor league in St. Louis Park to USA Red. He was one of the primary lighting rods in an intense three year rivalry with USA Blue. Broten led Red to an upset victory in the 02 National Championship over Blue, as well as scoring the tying goal in the 02 World Championship (allowing Red to capture the IFBA title over Montreal in OT). Like many of the greats on this list, Broten glides on the ice more so than runs. In his prime he possessed gazelle like quickness, and he hasn’t lost all that much nearly two decades later.
10. Pete Sikich
Score one for the younger generation, as this guy might be the only guy on the list to have never played a game at the historic Rosemount Horizon. The Editor has watched him explode on the scene though during his tenure at The Burg, as Kelly Lake has grown into a National (if not world) power. We believe he is the most explosive player in the American game at the current time, and have seen him pull off some amazing feats the last 24 months. He is that good!
1. Tommy Noyes
The Gold Standard of the blue line. A four decade career of excellence. Tommy was a student of the game, and a teacher as well. He always took care of his own end first, preaching “defense, defense, defense”. He loved a 1-0 game more than anyone alive! He was also the quarterback though, always running his team’s breakout. More often than not he completely dictated the pace of the game while he was on the ice. A true broomball legend in every sense of the phrase.
2. Fred Clifford
Plenty of you “since 2000” players are going to say who? Well, If you were around in the 80’s or 90’s you know exactly who. Freddy was the biggest impact defensemen ever to lace them up. Lyle Weiman is the only player The Mag has ever seen shoot the ball harder. When Clifford wound up and let it rip, it was an act of violence. If the shot was on net it was going in, or causing the goalie great bodily harm. He was completely off his rocker, and played harder than any teammate The Editor has ever had. He once broke his foot in the semi-final of the North American Championship so bad the bone was sticking out the sole of his foot. Dr. Jim Kallstrom proceeded to push the bone back in, super glue Fred’s skin back together, and send him back out for the Chip (where Freddy proceeded to score the game winner in OT and choke Noyes out in the handshake line). They don’t build them like Fred anymore.
3. Jeff Lacasse
A three time World Champion (Men’s, Masters, Mixed), Lacasse did more with less talent around him than any other player The Mag can recall. He mostly resisted the call to the “Super Teams” preferring instead to compete with long-time friends. The times he did venture out, the results spoke for themselves as the 3 World titles attest. Jeff possessed a common denominator with several of the greats on this list (Noyes, Johnson, Sikich) in that he could completely control the tempo of a game on his own. He was also a master at playing the “last man back” during 4v4 no goalie OT.
4. Jamie Johnson
Perhaps the best pure athlete on the list, Johnson was a freak. It seemed he never left the ice, and never tired. His shot was nuclear, and he outran nearly every forward that tried him. The Mag doesn’t want to understate his desire, because he was a fierce on ice competitor, but soccer was his primary sport and The Mag shudders to think how long this guy could have owned the sport of broomball if he would have been as fanatical about it as say a Noyes or Clifford.
5. Greg Richard
The goaltender’s best friend. Richard blocked more shots in his career than any other. His low crouching style and absolute fearlessness prevented hundreds of goals over the years. The Mag can also count on one hand the number of times he deflected any in to his own goal, it just didn’t happen.
6. Quinn Schmitt
Hard to believe Quinn has been at it for almost twenty years now. Maybe more than any other on Red, was responsible for the 02 World Championship. He took over a leadership role during that tourney which directly led to the result. Schmitt in the mold of Richards has prevented goals galore during his career. He plays with a ton of heart and effort, and has earned his place amongst the game’s all-time greats.
7. Tony Sikich
Might as well call him Noyes Jr. Holy Shit are they similar! Tony is the unquestioned QB of The K Lake squad. Absolutely the pace setter, a calm controlled style that can turn into offensive brilliance at any given moment.
8. Andy Stickney
The Mag has had their eye on this guy since back in his Penetrator days. When we were in acquisition mode Sticks was a must sign, and the deal was inked. Impressive size and smarts, the one-timer from the left on Barrie’s Tavern power play was a thing of beauty. Equally effective in contact or non-contact formats this guy is a top paired d-man on any team he plays for.
9. Dan “Howard” Gesier
Another of the “defend first” proto-type, Howard’s twenty-five year career was marked by success wherever he went. St Paul Park, Jaros/CH Anderson, USA Blue… all winning teams influenced by Howards play and leadership. The “C” was permanently sewn on whatever sweater he wore.
10. John Jaunty
Can it really be a decade since this kid started playing? Wow! This list has featured three types. The stay at home defender (Howard, Schmitt, Richard) the offensive defensemen (Clifford,Stickney,Johnson) and the combo of both (Noyes, Sikich, Lacasse ). Well, no secret here. Jaunty leads the list of offensive D-Men! Jonathon gets up the ice with the ball as well as any ever have. When he’s on, the breakout is brilliant, and the points pile up. Learned the game from many of the Barrie’s veterans, and now hopes to translate that into his own leadership role with a young, young team of his own.
1. Brian Hansen
Some of these selections are sure to cause a fair amount of debate. This one should not. The best goalie I have ever seen, Canadian or American. Incredible acrobatic save ability, uncanny hands, a ruthless desire to win. The only goalie I have ever seen stickhandle through four people, up to the redline, and dish it off for an assist. Played the Ottawa Nationals four times in his career, was not scored upon.
2. Corey Swanson
The most technically pure keeper on the list. An absolute thief at stealing games his teams had no business winning. More likely than not leads the world in goaltender appearances over the last fifteen years.
3. Chris “Sluggo” Blair
A triple threat over the course of his illustrious career. A good forward, a great defender (who was in definite contention for a top ten spot there as well) and a superb goaltender. The backstop for the St Paul Park mid- eighties dynasty. The catalyst of the Jaros/CH Anderson squad. The co-founder of the Red/Blue program, and a mentor to many, many goalies over the years. Sluggo developed a unique goaltending style that encompassed a great deal of ball-handling and a large dose of physicality while in, or around the crease.
4. Craig Garcia
The master of the spectacular save. Almost certainly more career championships than any goaltender currently competing. Garc has a mind numbing winning percentage over the last 13 years with Blue and Barrie’s Tavern. His breakouts are a thing of beauty.
5. Kurt Olson
Played the finest game of his life in the 02 World Championship vs Montreal. Had the unfortunate distinction of going head to head vs Brian Hansen in more than 20 tournament championship games in the 90’s and early 2000’s. At over 6 -5 and 240 lbs. Oly was an imposing figure in the cage with his long red beard jutting out from his mask.
6. Mark Beltz
Bootleg is a USA Broomball Hall of Famer and the pioneer of the American ball-handling keeper. He was the goalie of record for much of Tony Jaros’ success in the 80’s with his trademark scarf.
7. Dan Shugarts
Big Shrugs made his debut in the cage for the USA Hawks late in the 2013 season and won the North American Championship and MSF State Title is his first appearances. The Mag cannot think of more than one or two other goalies you would pick ahead of him in today’s current crop of keepers world-wide.
8. Al Stauffacher
Woody is another USA Broomball Hall of Fame keeper made famous by his sprawling style of play and his own trademark, the catching glove (back in the days when they were legal). Playing for teams such as the Blazers, Benning Inc. and the Hitmen, Woody and another famous Al (coming up next) may very well have faced more shots than all the other keepers combined!
9. Al Chapman
The undisputed leader in career goalie games played Chapman may not have the lengthy championship pedigree of a Hansen, Blair, Swanson or Garcia, but he picked his spots wisely and won several majors as a late season pickup. The Mag equates him to an excellent relief pitcher in baseball. Famously stood on his head twice in Vegas leading Barrie’s Tavern to championships over The Blues. Picked up a couple of National titles too in the relief role under Sluggo’s tutelage
10. Mike Wilmo
Another “who?” to the modern crowd. If you watch the Rockets video on You Tube, he is the guy on the island by himself while all five of his teammates are in the offensive zone trying to outscore each other. He has several International, State, and Invitational championships on his resume.