Game report: Georgia 13 @ Toronto 12 (OT)

What a heartbreaker. But what a great game. The matchup for top position in the East was everything we hoped it would be – close, defensive, fast-paced, and with some beautiful passing and scoring at both ends. Goaltending was solid, there were some nice transition plays, a number of penalties but nothing crazy (though one had a fairly major impact on the outcome), and we even got some free extra lacrosse at the end, though only 46 seconds of it.

Awesome

Latrell at the draft

  • Both defenses. This seems weird since each team took over 60 shots. But there seemed to be a lot of shot clock violations and constant passing around because nobody had a decent look at the net.
  • Tom Schreiber. Does it get boring saying this guy’s name every week? As a Rock fan, I say no. One play he made in the first quarter was similar to a play from last week, where Schreiber ran at the net like he had a couple of times previously, taking a couple of defenders with him. He then casually flipped it back to a wide open Brett Hickey who buried it. This time, he actually dove towards the side of the net, looking like he was trying to tuck it in between Poulin and the left post, but instead flipped it back to Dan Lintner who buried it while Schreiber was still in the air over the crease. Very slick.
  • Thompson brothers. Again, we mention these guys week as being awesome after week on Addicted to Lacrosse but it continues to be true. Each just knows where the others are going to be and I’m kind of surprised that the Miles-from-Lyle-and-Jerome goal in the third quarter was the first goal this year featuring all three of them. Actually, I checked and this is the only goal since 2005 featuring three players with the same last name, which means that neither the Gajic nor the Morgan brothers ever did it. The Kilgours (Travis, Darris, Richie) all played together on Buffalo from 1995-1999 but I don’t have goal stats going back that far.
  • Kieran McArdle – he scored the same goal three times: a laser from about 20 feet out and a little to the goalie’s left.
  • Latrell Harris. He played a solid game and then topped it off by giving the Rock a one-goal lead (finally! Harris scores on a breakaway) with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter. The elation lasted twelve seconds (see below).
  • Overtime! Who doesn’t love overtime! Well, I know a couple of people who get very stressed during OT and don’t like it. But I do!
  • Chad Tutton shot while on the run and then was hit into the crease, landing at Nick Rose’s feet. This tripped Rose up and he landed on Tutton, but not before making the save. Rose, as you may know, is a big guy. After Rose got up, Tutton got up, patted Rose on the shoulder, and headed to the bench. Not sure if he was saying “nice save” or if Rose apologized and Tutton was saying “don’t worry, I’m fine” but either way, it was nice to see that kind of sportsmanship. It was also nice to see the defenders not lose their minds because an opposing player hit their goalie accidentally.

Not awesome

  • Mike Poulin. Poulin was not terrible by any stretch, but he seemed to get fooled a lot. There were a number of shots where he’d make the save, and then look around frantically because he didn’t know where the ball was. At least twice it dropped behind him and he stopped it from going in the net or it rolled just wide. In one case, he saved most of it, but then danced around a little to try and get control of it, and it actually did bounce into the net. The ref had already whistled play dead so it didn’t count. But seeing as Poulin never really had control of the ball, play probably should not have been stopped and the goal should have counted.
  • Latrell Harris – The very next play after his tie-breaking goal, the Swarm win the faceoff and Harris chases down the player with the ball, and is called for interference. Not quite the worst time to take a penalty, but… actually that might have been the worst time to take a penalty. So the Swarm are down by one but are now on the power play with a minute left in the fourth quarter. Of course they pull their goalie to go 6-on-4. Shayne Jackson scores the tying goal with 3.9 seconds left.

Other game notes

  • Teddy Jenner made a great point on twitter after the game:

    Powless comes off the IR from concussion symptoms and scores the game winner in over-time; teammates immediately smack him on the head
    Teddy Jenner (@OffTheCrossebar)

  • For the upcoming Star Wars night, they played some ads featuring Rock players. One was wearing a Darth Vader mask and “force-choked” another, still another did his best Chewbacca impersonation. The ads were just terrible. And great. Or possibly great because they were terrible.
  • Two different people asked me whether women’s lacrosse features a “too many men” penalty. Is it “too many players”? Or “too many women”? I have no idea. Anyone out there know?

Clarifying the crease violation rule

It’s a rule we all know. It’s tested in every single game and although breaking it will disappoint your teammates and fans, nobody will head to the penalty box or dressing room. In a nutshell, the rule is “If you’re in the crease, any goal scored by your team doesn’t count”. If a player shoots while standing in the crease, even if his toes are just touching the crease line, no goal. If it’s his teammate who’s in or touching the crease, no goal. If he shoots while jumping and lands before the ball goes in, no goal. Easy, right? Actually there’s a little more to Rule #67.

The NLL rule book is available online (the 2017 version is here, at time of writing) so if you want to see the actual wording of the rule, go have a look. I’ll summarize some of the parts of the rule here and then we’ll look at what it all means.

Rule 67: Goal-crease violation

67.1 Attacking player in crease

If the guy with the ball touches the crease or crease line, his team loses possession. It doesn’t say “touching the ground” but that’s the implication; jumping over the crease is fine.

67.2 Attacking player first touch / interfere after shot on goal

If you shoot and your momentum takes you into the crease but you immediately step out, everything is copacetic as long as you’re not the first person to touch the ball or interfere with a defender afterwards. However, it refers to touching the ball after you get out of the crease; it’s not clear what happens if the ball goes in the net. Rule 55.2 says “A Crease Violation will result in a no goal. See Crease Violation Rule 67.” Rule 67.2 says that if you immediately step out of the crease (and don’t touch the ball first, which won’t happen if you score), you are not in violation of the rule which implies that any goal scored in such a situation would count. We’ll come back to this.

67.3 Attacking player in crease to gain advantage

If you (as an attacker but without the ball) go into the crease and then leave it, and doing this gives you an advantage (as decided by the ref), and then you grab the ball or interfere with a defender, your team loses possession. I believe an example would be if you go through the crease to get around a pick.

67.4 Attacking player in crease to gain advantage on defender

Same as the previous rule but if you initiate contact with an opposing player who has the ball, that’s a delay of game penalty rather than just a change of possession. We saw this called on Dhane Smith at last week’s game in Toronto – it was called as “Delay of Game – checking through the crease” and nobody had any idea what it meant.

67.5 Non shooter in crease when teammate shoots

The title is a little misleading. If any member of the attacking team is in the crease when the ball crosses the goal line, the goal does not count. It has nothing to do with when the shooter shoots. In a recent Toronto Rock game, a Rock player shot while another Rock player was in the crease but the ball hit the goalie and slowly trickled over the line. After a review, the refs determined that the non-shooter had left the crease by the time the ball went in so the goal counted.

67.6 Shooter in crease prior to ball crossing goal line

This is the one we’re all familiar with. If you shoot and any part of you is in contact with the crease before the ball goes in, the goal does not count. This one is slightly more explicit than 67.1; it does say you need to be touching the ground. Shooting while in the air over the crease is fine as long as it goes in before you land – just ask Mark Matthews, Curtis Dickson, or any of the dozens of other players who like to score while diving through the crease.

<waves arms, points downwards>

There’s an addendum which is oddly specific: if you shoot and the ball hits the goalie and then hits a defender and then goes in, it counts as long as the shooter is out of the crease by the time the ball crosses the line. We’ll get back to this one as well.

What does it all mean?

There are actually nine more sections of this rule, all the way up to 67.15, but I’m just looking at the ones above. For the most part, the rule says what we expect: if you or anyone else on your team is touching the ground in the crease (including the crease line) at the moment the ball crosses the goal line, the goal does not count. If you intentionally step into the opponent’s crease with or without the ball, it’s either a loss of possession or a penalty. If you accidentally step in and immediately get out (and you don’t have the ball), that’s OK.

The confusing part for me is the apparent contradiction between rules 67.2 and 67.6. We have:

  1. Rule 67.2 implies (but doesn’t say explicitly) that if you shoot, step in, get out, and then the ball crosses the line in that order, the goal counts.
  2. The first part of 67.6 says that if you step in the crease before the ball crosses the goal line, the goes does not count.
  3. The second part of 67.6 says that if you shoot, step in and then out, the ball hits the goalie and a defender and then goes in after you’ve stepped out, then it does count.

#1 and #2 together seem to contradict each other, but it could be that #1 covers the case where the shooter has time to get out of the crease before the ball goes in, while #2 covers the case where he does not.

But if #1 is true, why is #3 listed at all, since it’s just a special case of #1? It’s like having rules saying (a) “If you’re driving over 50 km/h in a school zone, you get a fine” and (b) “If you’re driving over 50 km/h in a school zone and your car is red, you get a fine”. But doesn’t (b) imply that you do not get a fine if you’re speeding in a green car? No, because (b) is covered by (a). (b) is not necessary at all and doesn’t clarify anything; it only serves to add confusion.

Also, why does a defender need to be involved? Why that specific order? What if it hits the goalie but not a defender? What if it hits the defender first and then the goalie? As long as the shooter is out of the crease by the time the ball crosses the line, it seems that rule 67.2 should mean the goal counts in any of these cases, but we don’t know for sure. It’s a rare situation but it would be nice if this rule was clarified.

So there you have it, the crease violation rule. Clear as mud, right?

Now, here’s a question not answered by the rule book: if I score while my teammate is just barely touching the crease line behind the net, the goal doesn’t count. Clearly my teammate’s toes in no way affected the goalie’s ability to stop the ball and didn’t give me any sort of unfair advantage. So why is the goal disallowed? And don’t say “because of rule 67.5” – I mean why does the rule exist? Why can’t the ref wave it off and say that the player’s “presence” in the crease had no effect on the play so the goal counts? That’s an exercise left for the reader.

Game report: Buffalo 10 at Toronto 18

I kind of liked the awesome / not awesome thing I did for last week’s Rock game report, so here we go again:

Awesome

  • Dominant performance by the Rock. Nick Rose was… well, awesome. The defense was excellent, limiting the Bandits to only 48 shots. The transition was strong, and the offense looked great. Just a great performance all around.
  • Back during the Rock’s early-2000’s dynasty, critics talked about their power play as nigh-unstoppable but they really didn’t score a lot of goals 5-on-5. On Friday, the Rock scored 18 goals and 16 of them were 5-on-5. Of course, that means that only two were on the power play. Hmmm… (see below)
  • Tom Schreiber. Three goals, seven assists, tons of hustle, and he looks like he’s been playing box lacrosse all his life. As I read on twitter, imagine how good he’d be if he had been. Props also to Stephen Leblanc with two goals and seven assists, and I thought Dan Lintner had a great game as well.
  • I watched Brodie Merrill a lot during this game for some reason, and re-discovered why he’s considered one of the best in the game. Nothing flashy but he seems to see the floor so well and makes an awful lot of very smart plays. (Note that the picture below is not from last Friday’s game. Fighting Steve Priolo isn’t what I’d call a smart play, but props for having the cojones to take him on.)
  • Mark Steenhuis is still a beast on the PK. Give him the ball and he’ll just run around for 30 seconds, regardless of how many people are hanging on him.

Photo credit: Bill Whippert

Not Awesome

  • Rock power play. Only two PP goals when it seemed the Bandits spent half the game in the box. They had a full two minute 5-on-3 and couldn’t score.
  • Bandits offense just couldn’t get it going. No Bandit had more than three points, and the Rock kept Dhane Smith to 2/0 and Ryan Benesch to 1/2.
  • Lots of penalties, mostly by the Bandits. Brett Hickey got a penalty for something (though I missed what) and Billy Dee Smith got one for punching Hickey on his way back to the bench. Thing is, at least two other Bandits punched Hickey while he ran by their bench. That’s also “intentional contact – dead ball”.
  • Not all of the penalties were warranted. Kedoh Hill got one for goalie interference that looked entirely unintentional to me. Mitch de Snoo got a five-minute major for a high hit but I didn’t think it was worth 5 minutes.
  • Attendance. Only 8319 at this game. Games against the Bandits (located close, long rivalry) should draw more, shouldn’t they? Read last night that this was the 6th lowest attendance in Rock history and something like five of the lowest eight were against the Bandits. I don’t get it.

 

Other game notes:

  • Dhane Smith got called for “Delay of game: checking through the crease”. This is rule 67.4: “Attacking player in crease to gain advantage on defender”. I have a blog post coming up soon describing rule 67 in detail, but I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen this one called.
  • The Bandits did not line up on the restraining line for the national anthems; they stood in a group around the net. I actually thought this was kind of cool.
  • My friend Jeff told me to call my buddy Jamie (Rock owner Dawick) and tell him to tell the video guy not to show replays of Buffalo goals, or close Rock goals. Sorry Jeff, it’s a new league rule: replays of all goals must be shown. I can only assume that the league read this article from last year and acted accordingly.

NLL Alternative Fact of the Day

It’s difficult to believe that these are all absolutely true:

  • John Grant Jr. won the Rookie of the Year award a record four straight years from 2000-2003.
  • The Toronto Rock used to have the highest attendance in the NLL, but dropped in the late 2000’s once the team’s dynasty ended. The attendance hasn’t recovered because people are still afraid Two for the Show will return.
  • Along with Gary and Paul, there is a third Gait brother, Steve. Unfortunately, he was a goalie and played against his brothers. His confidence was shattered at an early age and he never played again.
  • The Buffalo Bandits won 22 straight games from 1992-1994. 17 of these were defaults because the other team was too scared to show up for the game.
  • The Georgia Swarm have relocated more than any other team. They used to be the Washington Stealth and before that, the Arizona Sting, the Baltimore Thunder, and the Montreal Expos.
  • Kevin and Kyle Buchanan are the first father and son to play in the NLL together. Some people think it was Josh and Phil Sanderson but they’re brothers.
  • John Tavares is the all-time NLL leader in points, goals, assists, power play goals, loose balls, penalty minutes, faceoffs, saves, goals against average, rebounds, rushing yards, and slugging percentage with runners in scoring position during afternoon games on artificial turf.

One of the Buchanans. Don't know which.

Disclaimer of sorts: the Toronto Rock one is kind of an inside joke. Two for the Show are a “group” (two guys) who used to play between quarters at Rock games. One guy played bass and sang and the other played guitar and sang, and they had a drum machine behind them. They were pretty good music-wise (especially when the guitarist’s teenage daughter joined them to sing – she was really good) but because of a complicated situation at the All-Star game in 2006, my friends got the impression that I hated them.

Game report: Rochester 9 @ Toronto 8

I’m afraid I’m short on time today but I wanted to get a report done for last night’s Rock/Knighthawks game. So I’ll do this report in the same format that we’re using for Addicted to Lacrosse this season: rather than describe the game in detail, I’ll list a few awesome things and a few not-awesome things.

Awesome

Jesse Gamble

  • Close game. The Rock never led but were never out of it, and almost came back to tie it. When you’re on the edge of your seat in the final seconds of the game, that’s awesome.
  • As a Rock fan, it was good to see Stephan Leblanc back. As an NLL fan, it was good to see Dan Dawson, Andrew Suitor, and Cody Jamieson back. The game is better when all of the great players are healthy.
  • Great games: Billy Hostrawser, Latrell Harris, Jesse Gamble. Would have been great to see Harris score on his breakaway against his teacher, Mr. Vinc. I tried to find a picture of Hostrawser to put in this article but couldn’t find a good one of him not fighting. Sorry Billy.
  • Gamble got away from FOUR Knighthawks defenders at once and managed to keep the ball, and was even able to pass it to someone else who got a decent shot on net.
  • Schreiber and McArdle really seem to have figured out the box game. McArdle made a great play to prevent an over-and-back and both he and Schreiber were involved in some nifty quick passing plays that don’t happen in field lacrosse.
  • 10000+ attendance at two straight home games. That hasn’t happened in almost two years: March 21 / April 3, 2015.

Not awesome

  • An awful lot of shots hit Vinc square in the chest. You’re unlikely to score when you do this. This could have been bad shot selection by the Rock but is more likely due to a strong Knighthawk defense limiting the shots.
  • Nick Rose was shaky in the first half, allowing a couple of goals that he wouldn’t normally allow. He was better in the second half but never really looked comfortable. I thought the fact that Rochester only scored twice in the second half was more due to the Rock defense than Rose. That said, Rose did come up with some strong saves in the last couple of minutes to keep the Rock in the game.
  • Cody Jamieson picked up a couple of assists but left the game in the first quarter. Hopefully he hasn’t re-injured his knee.
  • The ACC lighting was weird. As the game started, we noticed it seemed a little darker than usual and after the second Knighthawk goal (which Rose obviously couldn’t see because of the lighting and so the goals should have been disallowed), there was a five minute pause as the ACC people played with light switches for a while. Lights went on and off and light covers opened and closed but eventually they rebooted the arena and got things sorted out.

Two additional comments:

  1. When a player on the defending side takes a penalty, play continues until the defending team gets possession. If a goal is scored, the penalty is cancelled. But the penalized player still committed the infraction. If I cross-check someone illegally four times but a goal is scored before I get to the box each time, it shows up as 0 PIM on the score sheet. Shouldn’t the player still be charged with the penalty? Maybe the power play could be negated (with the logic being that the goal is punishment enough) but I think the player should still be given the minutes on the stat sheet.
  2. A couple of us talked about the fact that Jim Veltman still has not been honoured by the Rock. His number should be retired along with Watson’s, and soon Doyle’s and Sanderson’s. Then we wondered how many current Rock players ever played with Veltman. We came up with three: Beirnes, Marshall, and Chapman. But there are actually four: we missed Patrick Merrill.

Game report: Saskatchewan 11 @ Toronto 13

The weird 2017 season continues. As Bob Chavez pointed out on IL Indoor, last year’s Champions Cup finalists are a combined 0-4 while the teams that missed the playoffs are 5-2. One thing that has continued from last season is the injury bug plaguing the Toronto Rock. Stephen Leblanc has missed both games so far and then Brett Hickey was injured during practice and is now on the IR. But rather than make their absence the story of the game, the Rock’s new guys stepped up to make sure that didn’t happen. And since there are a lot of Rock new guys, this was significant.

One question was directed at the Rock by many fans throughout this game: Who are these guys? Ten players in the lineup weren’t on the team last year (eight (!!) first-year players, Damon Edwards, and Steve Fryer who was on the practice roster), while five of last year’s top six offensive players (Doyle, Sanderson, Hickey, Hellyer, Leblanc) weren’t there. Every Rock goal except one unassisted goal from Brad Kri involved at least one player who was not on the team last year. Kieran McArdle and Tom Schreiber continue their strong rookie campaigns; neither one looks like they had never played box lacrosse a couple of months ago.

Damon Edwards (not on Saturday)But even bigger additions to the Rock are the transition guys. Brodie Merrill is having a bit of a resurgence at the age of 35. Damon Edwards (dumb penalty in the third quarter notwithstanding) is looking great in his return from missing all of last year, Jesse Gamble is Jesse Gamble (which is a very good thing), and I’m liking the addition of Challen Rogers more and more every game. I said after the first Rock game that if the Rock score ten transition goals a game, it doesn’t matter much how their actual offensive players do, and that seemed true after this one as well.

The same “Who are these guys?” question was directed at the Rush during the first half, though it was less literal. The guy wearing the Bold jersey wasn’t making stops that the real Aaron Bold generally would, the best defense in the league (and one of the best ever) was allowing all kinds of shots on the aforementioned Bold, and the offense couldn’t score to save their life. The Rush we were all expecting showed up in the second half. Mark Matthews looked as dominant as ever, and Robert Church also had a great game. I honestly didn’t notice Adam Jones or Ryan Keenan much but Mike Messenger scored a beautiful diving cross-crease goal. This reappearance of the real Rush almost had them pulling off the comeback that Rock fans knew was possible. For one eighteen minute span, the Rush outscored the Rock 8-1, turning a 10-2 blowout into an 11-10 nailbiter. Fortunately for the Rock, that’s as close as it got.

As a Rock fan I’m glad the Rush never tied it up although I have to say as a guy who writes a weekly column on clutch goals, it wouldn’t have been so bad.

Considering the Rock missed the playoffs last year, lost Doyle and Sanderson to retirement, and lost Hellyer, Leblanc, Sorensen, PMerrill, Marshall, and Miller to injury (and Hickey for game 2), it’s hard to believe they’re 2-0 and looking as strong as they are. I’m sure they’ll fall back to earth soon – nobody is expecting 18-0 – but I for one am going to enjoy this ride as long as it lasts.

Other game notes:

  • My thoughts are with Rock PA announcer Bruce Barker as he recovers from a stroke. I don’t know who the guy was doing the PA but he did a pretty good job with one exception – when replacing someone who’s been doing a job like this for years, don’t try to be him. He used a number of Barker catch-phrases that he probably shouldn’t have, IMHO.
  • In previous years, the team was always announced in numerical order but Colin Doyle was always last and prominently announced as the captain. (“Your captain, my captain, our captain”). Brodie Merrill was listed in numerical order and his captaincy was mentioned almost in passing. One wonders if Merrill himself asked for this lack of special treatment.
  • Connor Buczek was included the player announcements although he’s on the practice roster. He wasn’t at the game. Brodie Tutton, also on the practice roster, was not listed.
  • Ryan Dilks was ejected for instigating a fight with Kieran McArdle after McArdle crashed into Aaron Bold. I’m one of the most outspoken anti-fight people around, but I didn’t think Dilks deserved to be tossed for that. Five each would have been fine with me. Of course as a Rock fan, removing the reigning Defender of the Year from the game in the 2nd quarter was also just fine.
  • Nice of the Rock to recognize Josh Sanderson, though doing it between quarters rather halfway through a TV timeout would have allowed for a longer ovation.
  • Not a single challenge was issued by either coach.

Great players without championships

When people talk about athletes and how great they are or were, one statistic that almost always comes up is how many Championships they won. I have always fundamentally disagreed with this as a measure of how good a player is. While this is obviously a great measure of success for a golfer or tennis player, it doesn’t always work so well for team sports. If you’ve played your whole career on crappy teams, like Marcel Dionne, or on great teams that just never won that final game, like Dan Marino, the lack of Championships is not a reflection of your abilities or talent. We are, after all, talking about team sports. Similarly, I don’t know who the worst player on the 2001 Wings or 2009 Roughnecks was, but that player has won more Championships that anyone listed here.

The measure of “Championships won” is perhaps slightly different in the National Lacrosse League, only because of the size of the league. The title goes to one of 32 teams in the NFL and one of 30 teams in the NHL, NBA, and MLB. The NLL only has nine. Given that plus the parity in the league, your odds are a little better if you play in the NLL.

Here are a bunch of players, some retired and some still active, who have played a significant amount of time in the NLL and have seen success but have never hoisted the Champion’s Cup. These are in alphabetical order.

Ryan Benesch (2007-present)

Benesch leads this list in career points, 78 ahead of his Swarm teammate Callum Crawford. Beni spent time with the Rock during their lean years, the Rush before they were good, then the Swarm. He has been one of the top producers on the Bandits for the past three years and got to the Championship game in 2016.

Ryan Benesch

Callum Crawford (2006-present)

Crawford bounced around at the beginning of his career, spending his first four seasons in the league with four different teams before catching on with the Minnesota Swarm in 2010. But if you’re looking for Championships, the Swarm hasn’t yet been the place to be. Crawford was the top scorer on the team for four of his six seasons in Minnesota and then had a career year with the Mammoth in 2016. He is now one of the three holders of the single-season assists record (83) but has never been to the finals.

Chad Culp (2003-present)

Another guy who spent time on the Swarm, the Culprit also played with the Saints, the Sting (the only year they missed the playoffs), and the Mammoth (when they were 0-8 at home and 4-12 overall) before spending six seasons with the Bandits. Culp headed to the Championship game along with Benesch last season. Culp leads this list in games played among non-goaltenders.

Derek Malawsky (1998-2010)

Malawsky is tied with Casey Powell (below) with the most trips to the finals without ever having won. He reached the championship game with the Knighthawks in 2003, the Sting in 2007, and the LumberJax in 2008, and in all three trips he was beaten by a franchise he used to play for. Harsh.

Brodie Merrill (2006-present)

Brother Patrick has two rings with the Rock, and he’s been to the dance twice, with the LumberJax in 2008 and the Rock in 2015. Probably nobody on this list has accomplished as much in his lacrosse career as Brodie Merrill has. Actually, very few lacrosse players on any list have accomplished as much as Brodie Merrill has, except in terms of NLL Championships.

Brandon MillerBrandon Miller (2001-present)

Miller has also been to the finals twice, once early in his career and once late. He was with the Albany Attack in 2002 (his second season) when they lost to the Rock, but didn’t actually play in the game. Then after thirteen seasons with stops in San Jose, Chicago, and Philadelphia, Miller finally returned to the Championship series with the Rock in 2015 only to lose to the Rush. Miller leads this list in games played although as a goalie, he gets credit for a game played even if he’s the backup and never touches the floor. It’s difficult to know how often that’s happened.

Sean Pollock (2004-2015)

Yet another player who spent a lot of time (seven years) with the Swarm, Pollock also spent 3½ seasons with the Mammoth and finished his career with the Roughnecks, where he went to the division finals against the Rush in 2015.

Mike Poulin (2007-present)

Poulin learned from two of the best, backing up Bob Watson in Toronto and Anthony Cosmo in Boston before heading to Calgary and grabbing the #1 spot for himself. The Roughnecks went to the finals in 2014 but lost a heartbreaker by a single goal in the first-ever Championship tiebreaker game. Poulin is now the starter for the Georgia Swarm and is hoping to break the Swarm’s Championship-free streak.

Casey Powell (1999-2014)

Powell was close to winning the Championship with the Knighthawks three times. In his rookie year, 1999, Rochester went to the finals against the Rock but Toronto won their first-ever Championship. The next season, Kaleb Toth scored the most famous Championship goal in NLL history as the Rock defeated the Knighthawks again. Powell then played for the Anaheim Storm, New York and Orlando Titans, and Boston Blazers, reaching the Championship game again with the New York Titans in 2009. Then after taking 2012 off, Powell returned to the Knighthawks in 2013. Rochester won their second of three straight Championships that year but Powell had been traded to the Mammoth mid-season.

Geoff Snider (2007-2015)

Snider played four seasons with the Philadelphia Wings, where his only sniff of the playoffs was a single game in 2008. He did his part though, winning 28 of the 30 face-offs in that game. He had better playoff luck in his five seasons with the Roughnecks, where he played in ten playoffs games. But the 2014 loss to the Knighthawks was the only Championship appearance in Snider’s dominant but all-too-brief career. My realization that Snider never won a Championship was the inspiration for this list.

Ryan Ward (2004-2014)

Given the rest of this list, you’ll never guess where Ward played much of his career. Why yes, Philadelphia and Minnesota are correct! Ward played a season and a half in Philly before being traded to the Swarm, where he played another 4½ seasons. He joined the Rush in 2010 and went to the finals in 2012 but lost to the Knighthawks.