Versatility is a coveted quality in lacrosse.

And that’s what set young Nonkon Thompson of the Halifax Thunderbirds apart in his second season in the National Lacrosse League.

“He was our Swiss army knife,” Thunderbirds head coach Mike Accursi said. “He played in attack for us and he played in defense when we needed him. He found himself a good role. He can play both sides of the pitch effectively and he’s a great athletic body.

“A lot of these players are trying to find a role in early midget. So when you ask a guy finishing his junior career to play a different role than he’s used to, not many guys can do it. There are very few players in the league who can play both ends of the court effectively and get the job done. He’s super flexible about where he plays and every time he stepped forward he did a great job for us.

Thompson — who, at 22, is the Thunderbirds’ youngest player — brought his no-nonsense approach to defense in the NLL’s second year, with 37 strays and 23 penalty minutes.

The six-foot-two left-handed hitter has also contributed on offense, with three goals and 10 points in 10 games.

Nonkon Thompson of the Halifax Thunderbirds defends against Jeff Henrick of Georgia Swarm during a National Lacrosse League game on March 12 in Duluth, Georgia – KYLE HESS / GEORGIA SWARM

“Mike is right; I’m a Swiss army knife,” Thompson said in a phone interview from his home in Akwesasne, NY. He’s been battling the flu this week but hopes to be in the lineup Saturday in the Thunderbirds’ regular season finale against the Knighthawks in Rochester. , NY

“Mike has me playing a few different roles, jumping into attack and playing defense as well. I’ll do whatever Mike throws at me and I’m ready for whatever he has in store.

“I will contribute at both ends of the field as much as possible. He can use me in any situation and I’ll be ready to play.

Thompson was raised and still resides in the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne, which spans the borders of New York, Quebec and Ontario on either side of the St. Lawrence River.

He played junior hockey in Ontario, but lacrosse has always been his first love.

“When I was born, I was given a little wooden lacrosse stick and I always had it with me,” he says.

He hung up his skates when the Thunderbirds drafted him 38th overall in the 2019 NLL Draft.

After a rookie season in which he played 10 games, recovered 30 stray balls, caused five turnovers and finished second in penalty minutes to veteran Scott Campbell, Thompson was signed to a three-year extension.

Nonkon Thompson suffers a cut in his left eye following a fight with Rochester's Tyler Halls on April 1 in Halifax.  - TREVOR MacMILLAN / HALIFAX THUNDERBIRDS
Nonkon Thompson suffers a cut in his left eye following a fight with Rochester’s Tyler Halls on April 1 in Halifax. – TREVOR MacMILLAN / HALIFAX THUNDERBIRDS

His courage and his spirit were contagious.

The last time the Knighthawks and Thunderbirds met was Halifax’s final regular-season home game on April 1. .

Thompson landed a right hook that caught Halls square in the mouth. Bleeding from his left eye, Thompson was caught on the video screen wiping the blood away with his hands and then licking it off. He then waved his arms wildly to swell the crowd.

The Thunderbirds beat the Knighthawks 11-7 to end a four-game losing streak.

“He pushed me pretty hard and I pushed him back,” Thompson recalled. “He asked me to go and I was like, ‘OK, it’s time to go.’

“We were in a bit of a mess, team morale was down, so I took it upon myself to get the crowd moving and the team going. It was just great to connect.

“I will do anything for the team. I am a Swiss army knife. And if that means I have to fight for the team to take us forward, I will.

“I wanted everyone to know that I’m serious and not afraid to bleed.”

Nonkon Thompson, the 22-year-old Halifax Thunderbirds' youngest player, had 37 stray shots, 23 penalty minutes and 10 points in 10 games in his second season in the National Lacrosse League.  - NATIONAL LACROSSE LEAGUE
Nonkon Thompson, the 22-year-old Halifax Thunderbirds’ youngest player, had 37 stray shots, 23 penalty minutes and 10 points in 10 games in his second season in the National Lacrosse League. – NATIONAL LACROSSE LEAGUE

Saturday’s game will be Halifax’s last game before the NLL playoff opener next week with the knockout quarterfinals.

The Thunderbirds (10-7) clinched a playoff berth after beating the New York Riptide 16-13 in their penultimate regular season game at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday. Halifax, which snapped a two-game losing streak, had lost six of its previous seven heading into this game at Long Island.

Barring a stunning loss to the last-placed Knighthawks (4-13), the Thunderbirds will, in all likelihood, travel to Hamilton, Ont., to face the Toronto Rock in a first-round playoff. In the team’s previous meeting, Halifax laid an egg in a 15-7 loss at Hamilton on Easter Saturday.

“Our performance against Toronto was a real eye-opener for a lot of guys,” Accursi said. “Other games we were close and let it slip away. But this game we weren’t in it from the start.

“We had to hit the reset button and the guys did a great job responding. It feels good to be back in the win column. I think we have reached a milestone.

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