Austin Madronic has gone from going to battle alongside one of the NLL’s greatest veteran players to playing alongside one of the newest great talents the league has ever seen.
Madronic is coming off a rookie season that gave the NLL world a taste of what this highly-touted rookie was all about. His 12 goals and 11 assists were not tops in the league, but they mostly came from big performances. You’re bound to learn how to get hot, stay hot, and deliver for your team, playing with the likes of Robert Church and Mark Matthews.
The 23-year-old from Victoria, B.C, was drafted 6th overall in the 2022 NLL Entry Draft to the Saskatchewan Rush. However, he was the top draft pick that was actually playing in the NLL last season – the Top 5 picks all went back to University for the year. Eyes were on him, and everyone was very curious about what he was going to do in his first pro season.
For Madronic, who was a fantastic Jr. A player with the Victoria Shamrocks in the BCJALL, learning that he would be playing for the Rush in the NLL was a surreal moment. No longer would he be the guy or one of the guys leading his team, but he would be playing alongside two of the best to ever do just that in pro box lacrosse.
“Being drafted to play with Church and Matthews, those were guys that I idolized growing up,” Madronic said. “Going to Victoria Shamrocks games [as a kid] and seeing Matthews dumped six on the Shamrocks and win the Mann Cup – I wasn’t a fan back then, but it was awesome to get to know them and play with them.”
“Last year, getting to play with guys like Mark Matthews and Robert Church, I learned a lot from them. Those were obviously two seasoned guys that were obviously such good lacrosse players who know all the little tricks.”
How cool is it to not only be one of the top picks in an NLL draft but also getting to play with guys that you watched and idolized growing up? Dreams were coming true for Madronic, and it was building his confidence. Whether you’re a top Jr. A player in summer ball or you’re someone who fought tooth and nail to make it in the big time, at one time or another, you will always be humbled once you’re in the NLL.
Over this past summer, Madronic, who is based in Hoboken, New Jersey, requested a trade from the Rush because, while he loved the organization and playing with the guys on the team, the travel and recovery aspects were not ideal, especially considering he has a Monday-Friday day job. Obviously, the commute from Hoboken to Uniondale, New York (on Long Island) is a much easier commute than going from Hoboken to Saskatchewan. He needed to be closer to home and work.
For perspective, the drive from where he’s located in New Jersey to where he has to get to on Long Island can take about an hour and a half to two hours (with considerable traffic). The flight alone from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey (or any airport in the New York City Area) to Saskatoon International Airport is no less than seven hours – that’s including layovers and not including other travel time.
Upon hearing that he was part of a three-team deal that went down back in early September that was sending him to play for the Riptide, Madronic was not only excited to get to play with Jeff Teat, but he was also extremely excited to play with another forward who would be working with him on the right side of the floor.
“I’m really excited to work with the guys that Riptide have,” Madronic said. “One of the things I’ve learned watching tape getting ready for this season that really shocked me is that Connor Kearnan really doesn’t get the hype that he deserves. Watching him, he’s incredible. Obviously, Teat speaks for himself – he’s one of the best players in the world already, and the things he does are just amazing.”
Prior to the start of the 2023-24 season and since joining the Riptide ahead of the 2021-22 NLL Season, Kearnan has been the team’s 2nd-most productive goalscorer, having tallied 64 goals in 36 games prior to the start of this season. One of the reasons that Kearnan has found plenty of success on that right side is also one of the reasons that Madronic is excited to be joining the Riptide.
“The left side gets a lot of attention, and deservedly so – Jeff Teat deserves the attention,” Madronic said. “But, you see so many times on film that there’s so much opening on the right side because of that and because of the work they do. [Teat] has such good vision that my job should be easy.”
In Madronic’s first game with the Riptide this season, he didn’t find the back of the net, but he is still trying to find the least disruptive way to fit into this new lineup. Beyond just adding Madronic, the Riptide have undergone a few offensive changes, which can take some time to all come together.
Now through four games this season, it seems that Madronic is starting to find his way in this new system. The Riptide’s 16-9 win against the Philadelphia Wings exemplified what this group’s potential could be. Madronic had his best game of the season vs. The Wings posting his first goal of the season and adding two assists. He also picked up four loose balls, tying a season-high, and bravely blocked his first shot of the year.
With many burdens now off his back, Madronic, who is still only 24, has time to find a rhythm close to work and home. He is obsessed with winning, and that’s what he wants to do with this franchise that is determined to be a serious threat in this league (and soon). Madronic is ready to be a part of that run, playing alongside some of the best young talents in the game.
By Adam Levi