Game report: Georgia 20 @ Toronto 17

So Rock fans, we have good news and we have bad news. The good news is that the offense has finally woken up! 17 goals including 3 by Hellyer and Hickey and 4 by Leblanc, 7 assists from Hellyer and 6 from Doyle, even a couple of transition goals from Brodie Merrill and Rob Marshall. After four games featuring 7 or fewer goals, this was quite welcome.

The bad news is that the fairly solid if unspectactular defense we saw in those four games vanished. When you give up 20 goals, it’s hard not to blame the goaltending and indeed, Rosey didn’t have a great start and Miller wasn’t an awful lot better in relief. But for the most part I didn’t think goaltending was the problem.

Ironically, the Rock offense still didn’t look as good as we hoped. As Colin Doyle said in a post-game interview, they were getting into the middle more and giving themselves better scoring chances, which was good. But just like the previous couple of games, there were a lot of dangerous passes. Many more of them found their intended target than previous weeks (hence the increased scoring), but they were ripe for being picked off, deflected, or missed. I thought the offensive guys were too rushed, continually taking what looked like desperation shots with plenty of time left on the shot clock, and they must have hit MacDonald (or Higgins) square in the chest twenty times. He’s not going to move out of your way, shooters. Shoot it where he ain’t.

Many times, the Rock players held onto the ball too long and ended up getting it stripped away from them. Not everybody can be Mark Steenhuis and hold onto the ball while being triple-teamed – and it’s especially unnecessary when you’re not killing a penalty and there are people you could pass to. It wasn’t just the offense guys, many of the transition plays looked like this as well.

As for the Rock defense and transition teams, they were not on their game either. They were certainly missing Jesse Gamble and Damon Edwards but Swarm forwards found themselves open much more often than they should have. In one case, the Swarm were killing a penalty and Chad Tutton found himself with the ball right in front of Miller, and with no defender anywhere near him. He had an eternity to decide where to shoot and of course, he scored. There’s no way a five-man defense covering four men should allow one of them to be wide open like that.

Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun

But I don’t want to put the loss all on the Rock D and discount the excellent play of the Swarm offense. Even if the Rock was playing at their defensive best, they’d have had a tough time on Friday night. The Swarm had five players with 6 or more points (including two in double digits), and that doesn’t count Randy Staats’s four goals. They were passing well, they were shooting well, and like I’ve said before, they really do look like they’re having fun out there.

Another problem for the Rock was penalty trouble. They took three (three!) too many men penalties and Billy Hostrawser had five (five!) minor penalties, though no majors. As a result, the Swarm had five power play goals. Then again, the Rock scored eight (eight!) power play goals. This has been a common complaint (or at least a common comment) about the Rock in past years – they’re not as good five-on-five as many other teams, but they’re deadly on the power play.

But despite my mostly negative comments above, it certainly wasn’t all bad. In particular, the team was in the game all the way to the end. The Rock were actually leading with six minutes left in the fourth, but Brodie MacDonald played really  well in the last half of the fourth to keep them from coming back. As for Miller, he made a huge stop on a Randy Staats penalty shot five minutes into the fourth quarter to keep the Swarm from taking a three-goal lead. Such a lead might have been deflating considering the Rock had scored three straight to get back into it at that point, but Miller’s stop helped keep the Rock’s momentum and Toronto scored the next three to take that brief lead. It won’t get him any Money Baller points but it was a clutch play nonetheless, so kudos to Miller and the Rock offense for keeping them in the game.

Colin Doyle summed it up perfectly:

The offence was there tonight. Maybe the defence wasn’t. But we certainly can’t say anything because they were there for us the first four games and we weren’t there for them.

Other game notes:

  • No player intros, just “here’s your Toronto Rock!” and the whole team came out. When the team is 0-4, I guess you try anything to shake things up.
  • Of the Rock’s five losses, they’ve scored first in four of them, and taken 2-0 leads in three of them.
  • This was a game of runs. Starting from 5:17 of the second, Toronto scored four straight in less than five minutes, then Georgia scored seven straight over about 15 minutes, then Toronto scored six in about eight minutes, then Georgia finished up with four in six.
  • Dan Lintner scored his first career goal… again. In game 1, Lintner scored a goal but it was called back after a review because his foot was in the crease. In this one, the goal was also reviewed but held up.
  • Maybe the game was just so fast that it was inevitable, but the Rock seemed to have a lot of people on the “wrong” end of the floor. A number of times we saw four Rock offensive players passing around the Swarm net and Glen Bryan or Brock Sorensen setting picks, or Kevin Ross trying to get in Shayne Jackson’s way in front of Miller.
  • I did not hear the Mission: Impossible theme during the fourth quarter of this one. Maybe someone at the Rock offices read my last game report. Now if they could just get rid of that annoying “Holla Holla” song they play before the game starts.

Let the music play

When you watch an NHL game, there’s frequently music playing between plays. But the second the puck is dropped, the music stops. One of the things about the NLL that’s unique in the world of professional sports is that the music doesn’t stop. (“Can’t stop the Rock” one might say.) It surprised me the first time I went to a game. It surprises people I bring to games. My wife comes to one or two games a year and she says it still surprises her sometimes. You hear “They don’t stop the music while the game is on? Wow!”, frequently followed by either “that’s cool” or “that’s weird”.

So this is unique to the NLL – almost. CLax plays music but MSL and WLA do not. But is it a good thing? Let’s look over the pros and cons. I asked what peple on Facebook and Twitter thought, and I’ll include some of their comments below.

A few people (including Stealth player Jarrett Toll) simply liked my tweet but didn’t respond. I don’t know if that means they are for or against.

Pros

It’s unique and memorable. It’s something interesting about the whole experience that might catch first-timers’ memory and give them something to talk about at the water-cooler the next day.

It can get people pumped up and excited. This is useful if, for whatever reason, the lacrosse game isn’t exciting enough already.

It makes sure the place isn’t silent if the crowd isn’t in it.

Pro comments:

  • Darci Becker: “Vancouver would be a library without it!”
  • Ron Flesher: “I have no issue with music being  played during game play.”
  • Travis Holland: “Rock on”
  • Grant Miller: “Feels like it’d be quiet without. Maybe do NBA style with nothing heavy but still something”
  • Craig: “Don’t mind music, but for whatever reason it sometimes gets turned up to 11 at Pepsi Center”
  • Luscious Dick Tacoma: “conundrum. I like it live. Don’t like it watching outside the arena.”
  • J Bro: “the kids LOVE the music aren’t on Twitter and won’t vote. They are the future players that will grow the sport”
  • Bob Cox: “Music is one of the great things that makes NLL games more fun than other sports”
  • Carmen Widdess: “It makes for a great atmosphere with the music cranked.”
  • Chuck Hill: “I sometimes don’t even notice the music anymore (if it’s a good game and I’m into it) but I enjoy the music”

Big crowd in Buffalo

Cons

The fact that the other major sports (NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL, even MLS if you want to count them) don’t play music during the game may make the NLL seem a little more bush-league.

The actual sounds of the game – the grunts, the hits (ball hitting goalie, sticks hitting each other, sticks hitting players, players hitting boards, etc.), the yelling of coaches and players – get drowned out. I went to a pre-season game at the TRAC back in December and there was no music playing. Hearing what a lacrosse game really sounds like was fantastic.

When watching on TV, music playing is terrible. It seems much more distracting on TV, especially when the commentators have to talk over it.

Con comments:

  • Marisa Ingemi: “YES YES YES YES” (to the question “Should the NLL stop playing music during play?”)
  • Stephen Stamp: “I personally dislike it but have gotten used to it so doesn’t bother me too much”
  • Richard Bell: “May be up to the team”
  • Marcel Paillard: “Only if it flows with the game! Play whole song”
  • Marko Ćelić: “Only when the play is going on is it annoying….but I’m assuming it would be relatively quiet for the non uber lacrosse fans at the game.”
  • Brad Challoner: “No music is great if concrete or wood floors, you hear game sounds but turf is very quiet. I vote no.”

Interesting: other than Marisa’s rather unequivocal comment, even the “con” comments aren’t entirely “con”.

The Science

OK, that title is a joke. There’s no science here, it’s entirely opinion.

In a Twitter poll, 57% of votes chose “Love the music” over “No music please”. There probably should have been a “don’t care” option, and there were only 28 votes in the first place so it doesn’t tell you much.

I had a good chat over twitter with a fan named Nick who said that “it’s one of the reasons the casual fan enjoys the game” and that the lack of music would drive away fans. He said that he’s talked to many fans at many NLL games and they say they like the atmosphere better than at NHL games.

However talking to fans at NLL games doesn’t give you all the information, nor do polls on Twitter. It could be that many people came to NLL games, were turned off by the music, and never came back. And if they were turned off, they’re not there to talk to you about it the next time, and they’re very likely not answering lacrosse polls on Twitter. What if there are twice as many of those people as the ones who like the music and still go to games? Until we can find the people who left because of the music and include them in the numbers, we don’t know the whole story. Of course, finding those people is the challenge.

Other than Toll’s non-response, I didn’t hear from any players (though they might have voted in the poll) so I don’t know how they feel about it. I imagine they’re so dialed into the game itself that they don’t really notice the music.

Personally, I lean towards the “no music” side of things, though I’m not cancelling my season tickets over it. A lot of the music they play at the ACC is classic rock, which is my jam, so I tend to get into the music and the game (and the music selection is even better at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo – Dream Theater and Metallica!), so I’m kind of good either way. But like I mentioned earlier, the music-free game I saw at the TRAC was amazing, with nothing to distract you from the sounds of the action, and I enjoyed hearing the players calling to each other or yelling from the bench. But judging by the poll and the comments I got on social media, it seems that I’m in the minority.

Game report: Rochester 12 @ Rock 7

The Toronto Rock started 2015 with three straight wins. That possibility was gone after game one this year. The 2015 Rock won 10 of their first 12 games. While that’s still technically possible in 2016, I’m going to go out on a limb and call it unlikely.

The Rock’s first two games had different expectations. One was against a team that finished well under .500 last year and missed the playoffs. They are a much improved team this year, but it was still a game that the Rock probably thought they should win. The other was against the perennially strong Rochester Knighthawks, 12-6 last season and only a year removed from three straight Championships. Nobody would count the Rock out entirely, but even they would probably agree that a win in that game was slightly less likely than the Georgia game. But regardless, the outcomes were the same: for the most part, they were barely in either game and lost them both 12-7.

There were also a number of similarities in the two games besides the score. Colin Doyle had two assists in each game, Turner Evans had one. The goalies saved around 3/4 of the shots they faced (Rose 74.4%, Miller 73.3%) while the opposing goalie was well over 80% (MacDonald 83.3%, Vinc 85.1%). They scored a single goal in the second half of game 1 and two in the first half of game 2. Put another way, they went over 71 minutes scoring 3 goals.

In the first quarter, both teams were missing the net all over the place. At one point a few minutes in, there had been about 8 shots between the two teams and only one didn’t miss the net entirely. The Knighthawks got better. The Rock didn’t. They were missing the net a lot but also missing passes and being intercepted and as Mike Wilson said on twitter, they were playing like they’d never played together before. They were rushing transition chances, shooting early in the shot clock, and there seemed to be a lot of cross-floor passes through traffic, many of which never reached their intended target. They really needed a quarterback out there to set up plays and settle things down when guys wanted to shoot early, but Josh Sanderson, who’s filled that role very well for years, was obviously not available.

A beautiful goal by Vitarelli. Photo from Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Colin Doyle has also filled that role in the past, but he just didn’t seem up to it on Thursday. Quite honestly, he looked old and slow. He’s never been Mr. Speedy anyway, but there were times where he’d cut to the middle, receive a pass, then miss the net. Or cut to the middle and miss the pass entirely. By the fourth quarter, it looked like each of Doyle, Hellyer, and Hickey were thinking “I need to score a couple to get us back into this” and so they’d be shooting when they probably shouldn’t have been.

Now, they were also facing the Knighthawks defense and Matt Vinc, so you can’t fault them too much, but I’ve seen many games where an offensive unit is playing well but the defense is just too good, and this wasn’t that.

Brandon Miller played pretty well, for the most part. He made a few “OMG how did he stop that?” saves, but also let in a few “OMG how did he not stop that?” goals too. The first two Rochester goals were identical shots over his left shoulder, and the third was under his left arm. He seemed to have a three minute span in the first where he couldn’t see anything and let in three goals, but then settled down after that and most of the rest of the Knighthawks goals were scattered.

Dan Lintner made his NLL debut and almost scored, though his foot was on the crease line so it was reversed. He’s small and quick and totally not the same player as Kevin Crowley but he may fit in well on this offense, assuming this offense begins playing at the level they’re capable of. I’m not sure if Luc Magnan is a defender who’s fast or more of a transition player (generally defined as “a defender who’s fast”). He did play some solid defense and had a couple of transition chances though didn’t bury them. He’s no Damon Edwards but since Edwards is injured, you could do worse than having Magnan to replace him.

The bottom line: The Toronto Rock have the biggest home floor advantage in the league. The vast majority of Rock players (possibly all of them?) live near here so very few of them have to travel great distances for games here (then again, that’s true for some visiting teams too). They have a great practice facility and lots of veteran players. There’s no excuse for not being prepared for this game, especially after getting beaten the week before, and they weren’t.

Other game notes:

  • On a rare Thursday night, the announced attendance was 9387 but I doubt that many people were actually there. Didn’t look like 9k to me.
  • Dan and Paul Dawson were both wearing white leggings and mismatched shoes. The leggings were weird enough but the shoes were dark on the inside (i.e. the left side of the right shoe and vice versa) and light on the outside (right side of right shoe, left side of left). I noticed at least two other Knighthawks (Searle, Llord) who were wearing the same shoes.
  • Rob Hellyer must have tried the ol’ roll (not shoot)-the-ball-through-the-five-hole trick at least four times. Never worked.
  • For the second straight game, the Rock seemed to lose their discipline right at the end of the game and in both cases, it was unexpected players that got involved. In game one it was Colin Doyle, in game two it was Brett Hickey. After Hickey and Jon Sullivan were sent to the box, Derek Searle cross-checked some Rock player (don’t remember who) in the back, and Billy Hostrawser took exception. They fought and Searle took his hits and went to the box. Rock owner and GM Jamie Dawick wasn’t happy about it, calling Searle “some rookie punk” and said that he got his ass kicked and deserved it. While I don’t entirely disagree with him (though the fact that Searle’s a rookie doesn’t play into it – hitting someone from behind at the final buzzer when you just won by 5 is a dick move regardless of your NLL experience), I’m still unsure how I feel about an NLL executive making those kinds of comments. The fans, definitely. The coach or players, sure. But the GM? He’s got to keep a cooler head, in my humble opinion.
  • I know I’ve said this before but the music guy needs to change things up. When the Rock are down late in the fourth, playing the theme from Mission: Impossible is probably not the message you want to send. Play it when the Rock are winning (by a few) or don’t play it.

2016 NLL Predictions

My predictions for the final regular season standings as well as the major annual awards. The “Dark Horse” predictions are my “not as likely but could happen” picks.

Final Standings

East

  1. Rochester
  2. Toronto
  3. Buffalo
  4. Georgia
  5. New England

West

  1. Saskatchewan
  2. Vancouver
  3. Colorado
  4. Calgary

Individual Awards

MVP

Mark MatthewsWinner: Mark Matthews
Short list: Garrett Billings, Ryan Benesch
Dark horse:  Brett Hickey

Goaltender of the Year

Winner: Aaron Bold
Short list: Matt Vinc, Dillon Ward
Dark horse:  Nick Rose

Defensive Player of the Year

Winner: Sid Smith
Short list: Kyle Rubisch, Robert Hope
Dark horse:  Ryan Dilks

Transition Player of the Year

Winner: Karsen Leung
Short list: Joey Cupido, Jordan MacIntosh
Dark horse:  Alex Kedoh Hill

Rookie of the Year

Winner: Wes Berg
Short list: Randy Staats, Lyle Thompson, Jesse King
Dark horse:  Reilly O’Connor

Les Bartley Award

Winner: Dan Perreault
Short list: Mike Hasen
Dark horse:  Glenn Clark

GM of the Year

Winner: Doug Locker
Short list: I’m not sure whether I’d nominate the Swarm GM (whoever that is) if they do well, since I think I could have drafted just as well with that many first round picks in a draft that deep.
Dark horse:  Jamie Dawick

2016 Preview: West division

A short summary of each team’s offseason moves, where I think they will end up in the standings, who might have a breakout year, and as always, a haiku for each team. I covered the East yesterday, today it’s the West.

RoughnecksCalgary Roughnecks

Roster Changes

Lost Evans, McBride, Pollock, Snider, Moleski, and Veltman and replaced them with Tyler Digby, a bunch of rookies, and a third goaltender. And they only have one person on their practice roster. If the rooks step up big, they could be OK but given their struggles last season with those big-name guys, this could be a scary season for the Roughnecks.

Then again, a few years ago the Roughnecks lost both Tracey Kelusky and Josh Sanderson in the off season and replaced them with Daryl Veltman and a rookie named Curtis Dickson. Everyone thought it would be a disaster but they went on to win the West with the best record in the league.

Look out for

Wes Berg. My pick for ROY. You can’t replace Shawn Evans, but Berg will certainly give it a shot.

Prediction

Fourth in the west.

Haiku

Tyler Digby’s here
Two Carnegies, two Harnetts
Only one de Snoo


MammothColorado Mammoth

Roster Changes

The Mammoth are down Drew Westervelt and Alex Turner (91 points) but Callum Crawford (on pace for 80 last year) should make up for most of that. They also have Ilija Gajic returning; ironically they signed him as a free agent right after cutting Bob Snider, the guy they traded Gajic for. They also released Dan Ball and Ian Hawksbee and lost Cam Flint and Tyler Codron to injury. John Gallant, the only remaining original Mammoth, didn’t play much last season so his retirement won’t have a huge impact. They did sign Greg Downing from the Swarm and added a group of rookies.

Look out for

Ilija Gajic. He and Joey Cupido will make a pretty awesome transition team.

Prediction

Third in the west

Haiku

No more Westervelt
But added Callum Crawford
And Ilija is back


RushSaskatchewan Rush

Roster Changes

Same team as last year, plus Curtis Knight. The west is theirs to lose. Not much more to say than that.

Look out for

Ben McIntosh was third on the team in scoring last year but I can see him leaping over Robert Church into second. Not sure he’ll surpass Mark Matthews though.

Prediction

First in the west

Haiku

Curtis Knight is back
Great O, great D, best goalie
Can the Rush repeat?


StealthVancouver Stealth

Roster Changes

Lost Digby but added Billings. Added Beers, Moleski, Cornwall, and Hawksbee. Lost Hass and Rory Smith but only temporarily. So far, the most improved team in the league. But they also lost Tyler Richards. Eric Penney has played 346 minutes in his career with a GAA of almost 15. Chris Levis hasn’t played an NLL game since January 25, 2013 – almost three years. If the goaltending doesn’t pan out, they may need to score 16 goals a game to have any chance of success.

The Stealth had 5 guys named Tyler on their team last season, but they’re starting 2016 with only one. Can they survive?

Look out for

Garrett Billings. Hardly an out-on-a-limb prediction, but 2015 was very un-Billings-like. With extra recovery and practice time plus playing in his home town with Duch, Schuss, Small, and McCready I think Billings will be back to his Toronto Rock level of dominance.

Prediction

Second in the west.

Haiku

Billings has come home
Stealth have rebuilt the defense
But Richards is gone

2016 Preview: East division

A short summary of each team’s offseason moves, where I think they will end up in the standings, who might have a breakout year, and as always, a haiku for each team. We’ll start with the East, then cover the West tomorrow.

BanditsBuffalo Bandits

Roster Changes

Obviously the biggest news for the Bandits is the retirement of John Tavares. But with only 32 points in 10 games last year, he wasn’t having nearly the impact on the offense that he used to. Dhane Smith and Ryan Benesch are the anchors of that offense now. They did add Daryl Veltman, who averaged 53 points a year over his five years in Calgary.

Andrew Watt is injured, Derek Suddons is in New England, David Brock is on the practice roster, and Chad Culp is suspended for one game. The Bandits have four rookies on their roster.

Look out for

Smith and Benesch already make a formidable scoring combo, but adding Daryl Veltman will give them another weapon. He had somewhat limited playing time being behind Evans, Shattler, Dickson, and Dobbie but in Buffalo, Veltman could see a jump in both his playing time and numbers.

Prediction

Third in the east.

Haiku

Veltman on the O
Is great, but no JT means
Confused Bandits fans


SwarmGeorgia Swarm

Roster Changes

Josh Gillam returns after missing last season, Drew Petkoff signed as a free agent, and the Swarm have a bunch of big-name rookies joining their ranks including first rounders Randy Staats, Jesse King, and Chad Tutton as well as first overall pick Lyle Thompson. None of these four have a single NLL game to their credit but given their pedigrees, I imagine opposing teams are still concerned about facing them. Adding Staats, King, Gillam, and Thompson to an offense that already includes the likes of Johnny Powless, Kiel Matisz, Shayne Jackson, and Lyle’s brother Miles could make for a pretty potent offense.

Only one goalie on the roster for now, but Brodie MacDonald will likely be moved from the PUP list by the time opening day rolls around.

Look out for

Lyle Thompson is the obvious choice, and I’m sure he’ll have a great season. But at the Rock / Swarm preseason game in December, I heard the name Randy Staats an awful lot as well. Either one of these guys is my choice for the Swarm. Or Jesse King.

Prediction

Fourth in east but if I had to pick one NLL team to be the dark horse, it’d be the Swarm.

Haiku

Swarm moved to Georgia
Much warmer in winter, but
Will fans show up?


BlackWolvesNew England Black Wolves

Roster Changes

The Black Wolves pulled off a pretty big trade in getting Kevin Crowley back from Toronto, and then a huge trade in grabbing reigning MVP Shawn Evans. Adding these two guys, even at the expense of losing Garrett Billings, should make your team better, and I think it has. And don’t underestimate the value of a vet defender like Derek Suddons.

But half of the announced Black Wolves roster wasn’t on the team at the end of 2015. Add to that a new coaching staff and a last place finish last year and my expectations aren’t all that high for the Black Wolves. Shawn Evans is one of the game’s best players and has an outstanding work ethic, and so maybe some of that will spur the team on to great things. But someone has to finish last and for me, there’s too much uncertainty here to rank them any higher than that.

The Black Wolves have a new head coach in Glenn Clark, and Hall of Famer Jim Veltman joins Clark and Tracey Kelusky as an assistant coach. Blane Harrison resigned as head coach after last season, saying that his family moved to Michigan and the travel would be too difficult. Makes sense, except for the fact that he’s now an assistant coach with the Georgia Swarm.

Look out for

Quinn Powless only played 3 games last season before an injury ended his season, but he’s back and healthy and could have a big impact this year.

Prediction

Fifth in the east.

Haiku

Glenn Clark is the coach
Crowley’s returned but mostly
Shawn Freaking Evans


KnighthawksRochester Knighthawks

Roster Changes

Not many, but one could be pretty substantial. Brad Self is on the shelf (see what I did there?) as is Angus Goodleaf, Zac Reid is in New England, and Colin Boucher is out. But I’ve heard great things about #2 overall pick Graeme Hossack. Not that the Knighthawks had serious defensive problems, but can you ever have too much defense?

Brandon Styres (the son of owner & GM Curt Styres) is the new backup goaltender but when you’re backing up a workhorse like Matt Vinc, don’t expect to see a lot of floor time.

Look out for

As a defender, Hossack won’t make the score sheet often but he was chosen ahead of guys like Wes Berg and Randy Staats for a reason.

Prediction

First in the east.

Haiku

Not enough Graemes
In this league so thanks to the
Rochester Knighthawks


RockToronto Rock

Roster Changes

Not a lot of changes for the Rock, but one could be either a temporary setback or a significant blow to the offense. Josh Sanderson, coming off a 102-point season (his best in 5 years), has announced that he will not begin the season on the active roster since he’s not physically ready to play. If this lasts just a few weeks before he’s back, I’m sure the Rock offense can step up in his absence. But he’s also hinted that this could mean retirement, in which case the Rock are down 102 points from last season, the vast majority of which were assists.

Kevin Crowley was also returned to New England after effectively being borrowed for the last 1/4 of the season and the playoffs. In return, the Rock got forward Dan Lintner, who I was pretty impressed with in the exhibition game against Colorado in mid-December. At 5’9″, he’s not a big guy but was a dynamic player and when you’re replacing Josh Sanderson (as much as a future hall-of-famer like Sanderson can be “replaced”), you don’t need to be big.

Also joining the offense is Turner Evans, a cousin of Shawn and Scott. Evans is also not a big guy (also 5’9″) but he picked up a couple of goals and a bunch of assists in the pre-season.

Look out for

It wouldn’t be considered a “breakout season”, but Brett Hickey has looked outstanding in the pre-season, scoring 14 goals in the Rock’s three games, putting him on pace for 84 goals in 18 games. This is supremely unlikely, but I think he could certainly break 50 again in the regular season.

Prediction

Second in the east.

Haiku

No Sanderson, but
Hellyer and Hickey ready
to run the offense

2016 NLL: Who’s in, who’s out

All of the roster changes in one article! That’s why you pay the big bucks to read this blog.

Note that these are the changes as of the final roster from last season, so a player might be listed as “In” even if he played for that team during last season.

Buffalo Bandits

In: Matthew Bennett, Tyler Ferreira, Brandon Goodwin, Anthony Malcolm, Daryl Veltman
Out: David Brock, Chad Culp, Derek Suddons, John Tavares, Kurtis Wagar, Andrew Watt
IR: Andrew Watt
PUP:
Holdout:
Practice Roster: David Brock, Tim Edwards, Craig England, Adam Will
Suspended: Chad Culp

The first ever Bandits roster with no Tavares. Culp is only out for one game.


Georgia Swarm

In: Reid Acton, Josh Gillam, Jesse King, Drew Petkoff, Randy Staats, Lyle Thompson, Chad Tutton
Out: Sam Bradman, Greg Downing, Jordan Houtby, Brodie MacDonald, Shane MacDonald, Patrick Miles, Corbyn Tao
IR:
PUP:
Brodie MacDonald, Michael Seidel
Holdout:
Practice Roster:
Thomas Hoggarth, Marcus Holman, Jordan Houtby, Sean Young

The Swarm only have one goalie on their roster for now, but Brodie MacDonald says he’s only out for a short while with a chest cold.


New England Black Wolves

In: Dan Ball, Sheldon Burns, Kevin Crowley, Shawn Evans, Mike MacDonald, Shane MacDonald, Brian Megill, Quinn Powless, John Ranagan, Derek Suddons
Out: Garrett Billings, Mark Cockerton, Matt Crough, Michael Diehl, Craig England, Josh Johnson, Jamie Lincoln, Mike Manley, Mike McNamara, Drew Petkoff
IR: Mike Manley, Mike McNamara, Andrew Suitor
PUP: 
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Phil Caputo, Wenster Green, Zac Reid, Pete Rennie

Wow, huge turnover from the Black Wolves / Wings organization! Who saw that coming?


Rochester Knighthawks

In: Adam Bomberry, Graeme Hossack, Brandon Styres
Out: Colin Boucher, Angus Goodleaf, Zac Reid, Brad Self
IR:
PUP: Angus Goodleaf, Brad Self
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Brad Gillies, Joel Matthews, Derek Searle, Ty Thompson

Can you imagine? An NLL GM signs his own son! Crazy.


Toronto Rock

In: Glen Bryan, Turner Evans, Dan Lintner, Luc Magnan
Out: Kevin Crowley, Damon Edwards, Kevin Ross, Josh Sanderson
IR: Scott Johnston
PUP:  Damon Edwards, Kevin Ross, Josh Sanderson
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Kyle Acquin, Steve Fryer, Jordan Robertson
Protected: Mike Grimes

The loss of Josh Sanderson is huge for the Rock – with respect to JT, likely the biggest loss for any team.


Calgary Roughnecks

In: Tyson Bell, Wesley Berg, Mitch de Snoo, Christian Del Bianco, Tyler Digby, Kellen LeClair, Garrett McIntosh, Reilly O’Connor
Out: Shawn Evans, Andrew McBride, Pete McFetridge, Jeff Moleski, Sean Pollock, Geoff Snider, Daryl Veltman
IR: Pete McFetridge
PUP: 
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Patrick O’Meara

That’s a lotta big names replaced with Tyler Digby and a group of rookies.


Colorado Mammoth

In: Callum Crawford, Jackson Decker, Greg Downing, Ilija Gajic, Jordan Gilles, Josh Sullivan, Bryce Sweeting, Chris Wardle
Out: Dan Ball, Tyler Codron, Cam Flint, Ian Hawksbee, Colton Porter, Alex Turner, Drew Westervelt, Mike Woods
IR: Tyler Codron
PUP:  Cam Flint
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Conrad Chapman, Jamie Lincoln, Mike Woods

Lots of changes in Colorado as well but adding Crawford and Gajic strengthens an already-strong offense.


Saskatchewan Rush

In: Curtis Knight
Out: Matthew Dinsdale, Matt MacGrotty
IR:
PUP:  Matthew Dinsdale
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Doug Buchan, Jakob Doucet, Matt MacGrotty, Dan Taylor

Wow, very little turnover from the defending champs! Who saw that coming?


Vancouver Stealth

In: Matt Beers, Garrett Billings, Travis Cornwall, Jordan Durston, Ian Hawksbee, Brier Jonathan, Chris Levis, Jeff Moleski
Out: Tyler Burton, Tyler Digby, Ilija Gajic, Tyler Hass, Brad Kri, Tyler Richards, Rory Smith, Jarrett Toll
IR: Tyler Hass, Rory Smith
PUP: 
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Keegan Bal, Cody Hagedorn, Jarrett Toll, Ryan Wagner

Possibly the most improved team on paper, except at goaltender. No disrespect to Eric Penney and Chris Levis, but replacing Tyler Richards is a pretty tall order.