Joe Resetarits Passes Casey Powell for Most Points by American in NLL History
Resetarits' sixth assist Friday night set up the OT winner and put him atop the record book.
Entering Friday night’s contest against Halifax, Philadelphia Wings forward and 11-year National Lacrosse League veteran Joe Resetarits needed just six points to pass Casey Powell for the most points by an American-born player in National Lacrosse League history.
As luck would have it, the record came when Philadelphia needed it most. Resetarits got six points on six assists Friday, dishing to Jack Jasinski for the 16-15 overtime winner and a place atop the American record book.
“It’s definitely awesome to be in the same category as Casey Powell,” Resetarits said prior to passing Powell. “It’s something that honestly never came across my mind. I always just tried going out there and playing the game I love, trying to keep getting better each and every year.”
Powell produced 674 points during his own 11-year career, split between the Rochester Knighthawks, Anaheim Storm, New York and Orlando Titans, Boston Blazers and Colorado Mammoth. One of three dazzling Powell brothers who starred at Syracuse, he was inducted into the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame in September.
A fellow New Yorker, Resetarits grew up in Hamburg, a suburb of Buffalo and a close drive to major box lacrosse communities. He first picked up a stick in nearby Newtown, a community on the Cattaraugus Reservation, then crossed the border to play with the best of the best in Canada.
“Once I got to St. Catharines minors, that’s where I really learned how to play box lacrosse,” Resetarits said. “Actually, learning the basic key fundamentals, the main objectives of the game, that’s when I learned what box lacrosse really was.”
Eric Vinc, current video coach for the Buffalo Bandits, was Resetarits’ first coach in the St. Catharines Athletics system. With each lesson, Resetarits grew both as a box and field player.
“That’s when I started realizing how valuable box lacrosse was for your total game,” Resetarits said.
Resetarits was selected sixth overall in the 2012 draft by the Calgary Roughnecks, jumping to the professional ranks with an already impressive resume. He won a Mann Cup in 2011 with the Brampton Excelsiors and was named a USILA Preseason All-American during his time playing collegiately with Albany.
After stops in Calgary, Buffalo, Rochester and New England, Resetarits has saved his best years for his 30s. He set a career high with 111 points with the Albany FireWolves in 2021-22, then came a point away from matching that total with Philadelphia last season.
Powell remains the only American to win the NLL’s MVP honor, but that may soon change. It’s fitting Resetarits set the new American standard this season in the midst of what feels like an American renaissance in the NLL.
Three Americans surpassed 100 points during the 2022-23 season, with Resetarits joined by Toronto’s Tom Schreiber and Rochester’s Connor Fields. Box novice Jack Hannah burst on the scene for Las Vegas, earning a nomination for the league’s Rookie of the Year award.
Opportunities have increased since Powell’s days to play box lacrosse in the states, an investment at the grassroots level that occurred concurrently with the NLL’s growth to 15 teams. There’s a much easier path for offensive players to slot into their natural roles early in their NLL careers, increasing the chance to stick compared to those in the past who had to pay their dues out the back door.
With every success story, a new role model emerges.
“I don’t think anyone in Buffalo was surprised to see how successful Joe has been in the NLL,” said Fields, a fellow Western New York native. “He, just like Casey Powell and others, helped grow the box game in the U.S. and show the younger generation of Americans that they can be successful, too, if they put the work in.”
Today, that next generation is already promising. Syracuse star Joey Spallina found great success playing Canadian Junior A lacrosse with the Orangeville Northmen last summer. Brennan O’Neill, the likely first overall pick in the upcoming Premier Lacrosse League College Draft, has publicly expressed his love for the box style of the game, too.
“Honestly, it’s the best thing you can do,” Spallina told USA Lacrosse Magazine contributor Dan Arestia in June. “Not to knock summer [field lacrosse], but it’s just not as competitive. Every game here is a battle. You have to work your butt off to score and contribute for your team. It definitely makes your field game a lot better, and I’d expect more Americans to come up here soon.”
“It helps that you get huge names in the field game, like Tom Schreiber playing, Connor Fields, Trevor Baptiste, Blaze Riorden,” Resetarits said. “These guys are the best field players in the world. Seeing them go play a totally different version of the sport and seeing them succeed, kids will see that and want to try that.”
Resetarits was made aware of his proximity to Powell at the start of the season, but it isn’t something that was on his mind often. He’s more concerned with his team’s success, and the Wings certainly need to remain focused given their current predicament. Philadelphia is now 2-2 and is enduring the absences of Blaze Riorden and Holden Cattoni for about the next month.
While the box world has celebrated him this weekend, the record was never his focus. He simply hopes he can inspire the next American player who’s considering giving box a chance.
“Anybody that has asked me, ‘How do you feel about box?’ I tell them to go do it,” Resetarits said. “You’re going to have the time of your life, and if you want to make yourself a better lacrosse player, this is a main steppingstone.”