Landon Kells Unprecedented Year of Success
With two years of junior lacrosse still ahead of him, Landon Kells has been on a run of unprecedented success. From minor to the pro, Kells' preparation has met opportunity and success has followed.
Starting in 2016, while still playing minor lacrosse, Kells backstopped Team Ontario to a CLA Midget National Championship. That same year Kells got his first taste of Junior ball and jumped in the pipes for the Elora Mohawks of the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League (OJBLL) and recorded his first junior win; going the full 60 minutes and only gave up 8 Goals. In the off season and into the new year Kells was drafted 12th overall by the Peterborough Lakers in the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League (OJALL) draft.
After being drafted into Junior A, Kells spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons playing with the Elora Mohawks. In the off-season, between 2017 and 2018, Kells attended the 2019 Ontario Regional Combine with the Canadian Lacrosse League. In those first two season with a dominant Elora team, Kells posted impressive 5.98 and 5.03 Goals Against Average (GAA), respectively. He backstopped Elora to a 2019 CLA Founders Cup Championship posting a 5.00 GAA in 3 Games including the Championship Game against an explosive Seneca WarChiefs offence led my Clay Scanlan.
[Landon Kells celebrating 2018 CLA Founders Cup victory (Photo: Landon Kells Twitter)]
After his successful stint in Junior B, Kells made the jump to Junior A with the Peterborough Lakers. "The jump from Junior B to Junior A is [a] night and day difference. The game is faster the players are better. But in my opinion playing Junior B got me experience as a young junior lacrosse player and prepared me for Junior A" said Kells of his transition from Junior B to Junior A. Staying loyal to the team that drafted him, Kells was a welcomed addition to a struggling junior Peterborough club.
During the 2019 OJALL season Kells saw the vast majority of minutes between the pipes for the Lakers, 1160.01 Min good for fourth (4th) in the league behind three (3) Goaltenders who's teams sat atop of the regular season standings. While Kells was able to post a very respectable 8.59 GAA in his first Junior A season, scoring across the "A" loop was down considerably in 2019. Being more than capable of handling the heavy work load, Kells also spent time as a 'call-up' supporting the Senior A Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse (MSL).
"I was called up a few times throughout the season because either [Mike] Poulin or [Matt] Vinc were not able to make [the games]." said Kells of how his time backing-up two of the National Lacrosse League's all-time greats materialized."The guys there were amazing and very welcoming and very professional." Kells added.
Kells time with the Senior Lakers also provided him with a unique opportunity after the completion of the 2019 IIJL World Junior Lacrosse Championships. "I got to go to the Mann Cup [in Victoria, British Columbia] because Vinc and his wife were expecting a baby any day." Kells explained while still in awe, "it was amazing."
[Peterborough Lakers celebrating their third Mann Cup in three years. Kells is located centre right, beside the Mann Cup (Photo: Peterborough Lakers Twitter)]
After winning the 2019 CLA Mann Cup on September 12th in Victoria, British Columbia, Kells was on the next flight out and headed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2019 NLL Entry Draft on September 17th. On that night Kells' childhood dream came true as the Calgary Roughnecks selected him 46th Overall in the 3rd Round. "Getting drafted was a surreal feeling. It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a young lacrosse player." Kells described of being drafted. "But with being drafted comes more responsibility and I want to work harder and become an even better lacrosse player." Kells added. Forgoing any NCAA eligibility, Kells entered the NLL Entry Draft as a 19 year old. While drafting 19 year olds at offence, transition, or defence is not uncommon in the NLL, drafting a 19 year old goalie is not common practice. But, for the Riggers it's business as usual.
Mike Board, General Manager of the Roughnecks, told the Calgary Sun; “We had [Kells] ranked fairly high as a goalie. He’s going to have to grow with us, but you can’t have too many goalies in your stable.” Describing the Roughnecks goaltending situation as a "stable" could be considered an understatement. Most notably Christian del Bianco who is a 1x IIJL World Junior, 2x CLA Minto Cup, 1x NLL Cup, and 1x FIL World Indoor Champion was also drafted at 19 years old by the Roughnecks. "'Delbs has been great helping me transition into the NLL." Said Kells of his relationship with Christian del Bianco. "He was in the same situation when he got drafted, he's helped me a lot so far along with Tyler Richards. If I have any questions I know I can go to Delbs and get some good advice." Kells added.
[Pictured (left to right) - Mike Board General Manager, Landon Kells, Brian Beisel Eastern Scout, Bob McMahon Assistant Coach (Photo: NLL)]
After his first National Lacrosse League training camp and exhibition games Kells was recently named to the Calgary Roughnecks Practice Roster to start the 2019-2020 NLL season.
Of course, sandwiched between the end of his OJALL regular season with the Peterborough Lakers and jumping on with the MSL Peterborough Lakers for the Mann Cup, Kells was named to the 23 Man Final Roster for Canada at the 2019 IIJL World Junior Lacrosse Championship. "The World Juniors was one of the best lacrosse experiences of my life." Said Kells capping off the year of events. "I met life long friends from around the country that all share the same passion of playing lacrosse at the highest level." Kells added. Canada's 2019 World Junior roster included returning Goaltender Laine Hruska, who backed-up All-World Goaltender Brody Harris in 2018. Kells and Hruska split games in the round-robin and playoffs, with Lucas Nagy getting a start and full sixty as well, with Hruska ultimately getting the Gold Medal Game start against Iroquois. In the Gold Medal Game Iroquois surprised Canada getting of to a 5-0 lead in the 1st Quarter.
"THE WORLD JUNIORS WAS ONE OF THE BEST LACROSSE EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE."
- LANDON KELLS
Canada's Coaching Staff made the necessary in-game adjusts, including bringing Kells off the bench to relieve Hruska. "Coming off the bench obviously wasn’t an ideal situation because it meant we were losing but the team rallied and all I wanted was the win and the team was calm cool and collected and got the job done." With his Canadian teammate, including Hruska, in front of him Kells provided that calming factor and his team rallied for a 6 Goal run to lead Iroquois 6-5 headed into halftime.
Canada went on to win the 2019 IIJL World Junior Championship Goal Medal Game in thrilling fashion by a score of 13-10 over Iroquois (boxscore). Kells shared Canada Player of the Game with Sam LeClair (5 Goals, 3 Assists) and was named First-Team All-World Goaltender of the championship. Needless to say that everyone involved is happy that Kells attended the combine a year and a half prior preparing him for the opportunity to represent Canada.
The future is bright for Landon Kells. But the future will have to wait, he still has two more years of junior left!