Blaze Riorden found out 10 minutes before warmups Sunday afternoon that he’d have an additional role during the inaugural PLL All-Star Game. With the late scratch of Miles Thompson, Team Rambo had only five attackmen, so the 25-year-old Chaos LC goalie volunteered for double duty. He procured arm pads plus a helmet without a throat guard from the equipment manager and borrowed Drew Snider’s backup stick.
“I wasn’t expecting to [play attack], but we made it happen,” Riorden said earlier this week.
Riorden looked more than comfortable across the midline. He scored two goals in the second quarter on deft finishes near the crease. He capped off the performance with a behind the back assist to Connor Fields that gave Team Rambo an 11-8 lead heading into halftime. Team Baptiste ultimately prevailed, 17-16.
The person least surprised by Riorden’s offensive exploits was his team’s namesake and captain. Matt Rambo and Riorden both play forward for the NLL’s Philadelphia Wings. They also live next door to each other in an apartment complex in Center City Philadelphia near Drexel University. Riorden had a breakout indoor season and tallied 54 points. Rambo had 56. This week they were both named to the Team USA roster for the 2019 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. Their play this summer has been even more impressive. At the halfway point, Rambo is a unanimous pick for the Jim Brown MVP Award. He leads the league in points (27) and assists (15) as he’s quarterbacked the Whipsnakes to first place in the standings (5-1). The Chaos are tied for second at 4-2. Riorden bolsters their defense with a league high 16 saves per game and often ignites their transition offense.
Their matchup will be the one to watch for this weekend when the Whipsnakes try to clinch the first-ever PLL postseason berth against the Chaos Saturday at 6pm MT at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver.
“As a competitor everyone will tell you when you strap on the pads everything else goes away,” Riorden said. “But it definitely sits in the back of your head a little bit knowing that you’re playing against the guy you live with and the repercussions of him scoring on me. The stakes are higher.”
Not to be outdone by his roommate, Rambo had his own highlight reel goal during All-Star weekend when he used all of his vertical to pull off a rendition of the Air Gait. He captioned a video of the goal on Instagram the “Air Chef.” Rambo and Riorden played on the culinary theme when they arrived to the game in chef’s aprons embroidered with “Chef Rambo” and “Chef Blaze.” Riorden got the black apron for his birthday last year and Rambo received his green one in a Secret Santa. They weren’t just for show.
“Obviously it’s dirty you know,” Rambo commented on his apron during a red carpet interview. “We don’t just fake cook.”
While the nicknames have stuck—the pair even appeared on a local Philly news station in February to show off their skills preparing a buffalo wing dip—Riorden asserted he has an edge on his roommate in the kitchen.
“I think a lot of people would agree that I’m a better cook,” he said, citing his signature meatloaf that’s lately been a “hot commodity.” “I think it’s just [due to] my willingness to cook. I cook a lot. Matt does cook and he’s good on the grill and he makes kabobs that are really good, but when it’s time for a meal, I’m usually the one cooking. But I think Chef Rambo has built up a little more of a fan base, so I would probably be considered the Sous Chef in his kitchen.”
“I feel like I’ve known him my whole life,” Riorden added. “We call each other 100 times a day just to say what’s up and see how each other are doing. We’ve had a lot of fun and I consider him one of my best friends, but we take a week break when it’s our time to play each other in the PLL.”
Prior to the Whipsnakes vs. Chaos Week 1 matchup, Riorden lightened the mood with a pre-game prank. He collected a bunch of extra player cards with his likeness that he signed during the NCAA Final Four and stuffed them in Rambo’s pads. Rambo though got the last laugh. He had five points including the game winning assist in overtime. Riorden had to buy Rambo dinner and bend his knee to “show respect to the king.” It’s the typical penalty for the roommate who loses when they face off in golf, racquetball, and, of course, lacrosse.
After the matchup on Saturday night, Chef Blaze hopes to be standing tall.