May 18, 2012

Ternosky's MVP Award No Surprise to Saints

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Jake Ternosky (22) lost just 13 faceoffs during the entire Conference Carolinas schedule, prompting the league coaches to name him the conference MVP over the likes of prolific scorers Riley Loewen and Shayne Jackson. The Saints agree completely with the decision, as they understand that having the ball is the key to Limestone's success.

As the rest of the team went through drills and schemes in preparation for Saturday's game against Le Moyne in the NCAA Division II semifinal on the rain-soaked Limestone practice field, there was Jake Ternosky, taking faceoff after faceoff, honing his craft.

Saints coach J.B. Clarke would occasionally call Ternosky over for certain activities, where he joined the likes of prolific scorers Shayne Jackson, Riley Loewen and Jackson Decker, who have become the face of this Limestone team. But Ternosky always returned to spot on the side of the field where he would toil in anonymity.

Don't let the visuals fool you. Ternosky is the most important player for the Saints this season. Everyone on the team knows it.

Everyone in Conference Carolinas, Limestone's league, understands what the OCC transfer means to the Saints machine, as well.

"Quite frankly, I had nominated the two attackmen because they won it last year," said Clarke of putting Jackson and Loewen up for the league MVP consideration. "We got into the room and I think the conference coaches did a good job communicating. It was the other guys who said, 'Those two guys are incredible, but the numbers Ternosky has in conference are unmatched.'"

Ternosky finished with an overall faceoff winning percentage of 69.6 (217-for-312), but in Conference Carolinas competition, he lost just 13 faceoffs in the five games, posting a 82.7 winning percentage (62-for-75). The other coaches in the league realized that Ternosky was the conduit between the ball and the Saints deadly scorers.

And so did the scorers, themselves.

"I wasn't surprised at all. He deserved it," said Loewen, who finished the regular season with 46 goals and 19 assists. "We value possessions so much on this team and its something we kind of struggled with last year. He's just been unbelievable getting the ball and giving me, Shayne and the offense chances."

Ternosky admits that getting the MVP award was unexpected.

"I was very surprised," he said. "I thought if anything, those guys should have got it more than me. My trade is different than theirs. They have sick lefty rips and all that. They score a ton. I definitely didn't see it coming. I would have given it to the team more than myself."

"I think it was a surprise to Jake, but the good thing was that everyone was happy for him," said Clarke. "Our team recognizes the value of having the ball, especially against teams that are trying to slow us down."

If Clarke had been asked about Ternosky's chances of being the league MVP earlier in the year, he might not have been sold on the possibility.

"He really didn't have a very good fall and early in the spring things weren't clicking, but he's a rep guy, so we give him a lot of reps during the week," Clarke said. "I saw him at practice late in the year at OCC and I was impressed by the way he was going about working on his trade, literally punishing himself if he went too early on a faceoff or things like that."

"It was just me getting better over the summer and putting work in," Ternosky said.

It means a lot to Ternosky that his team appreciates his efforts – "They all said that I deserved it and I was humbled by that," he said – but he knows that he was brought it for one reason, and that's to perform in the postseason. A substandard performance in the NCAA tournament and all of the awards don't mean much.

"I'm ready for them," said Ternosky of the Le Moyne faceoff unit. "I've been looking over the numbers for weeks and checking out film. I've memorized them pretty well."

And with that, Ternosky turned and walked back to his area of the field, getting in a couple more reps.


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