2018 Preview: East division

I’ve left out the summary of offseason roster moves since that’s in my Who’s In, Who’s Out article. Here, we’ll cover 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

Look out for

Obviously first-overall draft pick Josh Byrne will get a lot of floor time but if I had to pick someone else, I might go with Alex Buque. There is some debate over whether he’s ready to be an everyday starter but I think so.

Prediction

Their big problem last year was defense. Improving the goaltending is a start but the Bandits didn’t actually improve the defense – in fact it doesn’t look like they even tried. With the losses of Billy Dee Smith, Andrew Watt, David Brock, and Alex Kedoh Hill, who’s going to prevent Buque from seeing 65 shots a game? Priolo and de Snoo are great but they can only do so much.

Fifth in the east.

Haiku

Cosmo has retired
Crawford replaces Benesch
It’s Showtime, baby!


SwarmGeorgia Swarm

Look out for

Johnny Powless. Only 50 points for Powless last season, but he only played in 10 games. That would give him 90 points over 18 games. Lefty Jordan Hall will be replaced by lefty Jesse King but Jerome Thompson will be playing more transition and defense this season, which will probably result in more touches for Powless.

Prediction

The offense is still top notch, but with all the top-name T/D players who are out, their defense could be shaky. They might win a number of 17-16 nailbiters.

Second in the east.

Haiku

Reigning champions
Lots of defenders are out
Jesse King is back


BlackWolvesNew England Black Wolves

Look out for

Reilly O’Connor. Of the lefties on last year’s Black Wolves squad, Culp, Saunders, and Veltman are gone, leaving O’Connor, Kevin Buchanan, and rookie JP Kealey. O’Connor looked strong in the preseason game against the Rock.

Prediction

Those who aren’t fans of Aaron Bold say that the reason for his success in Edmonton / Saskatchewan was the great defense in front of him. Well, now we’ll see if they’re right. That’s not to say that New England’s defense is lousy, but it’s not at the same level as Bold has been used to.

Third in the east.

Haiku

Aaron Bold in net
Evans, Crowley score up front
No Bill O’Brien


KnighthawksRochester Knighthawks

Look out for

It might seem weird but I’m going to say Dan Dawson. Dawson had his worst season in ages in 2017 but looked great at the Heritage Cup. I think he’ll rebound this year. We may not see 100+ points but he’ll look more like the old Dan Dawson than the 2017 model.

Prediction

After one of the lowest-scoring seasons in NLL history (9.72 goals per game, the 11th lowest average ever), the Knighthawks used their second-overall draft pick to grab… a defenseman who specializes in face-offs. I mean no disrespect to Jake Withers but I don’t think that’s what the Knighthawks needed. They did also draft Austin Shanks and Eric Fannell, both forwards, and it’s possible that Cody Jamieson will return sometime this season, but there’s been no word on that.

Fourth in the east.

Haiku

Billy Dee comes in
But he will not help them score
And still no Jammer


RockToronto Rock

Look out for

I’m really tempted to put Rob Hellyer here but that’s too obvious. I’m going to go with Drew Belgrave. I don’t know if he’ll be a Rookie of the Year candidate but I liked how he looked in the pre-season.

Prediction

Hellyer, Hickey, Jones, Schreiber, Leblanc. Out of curiosity, what’s the record for most 100-point players on the same team in one year? I’m glad you asked! It’s the 2005 Toronto Rock, who had three (Doyle, Manning, Sanderson). How coincidental. If this year’s Rock can stay healthy, this could be one of the most potent offenses ever. I’m looking forward to the first Rock/Swarm game, which could end up 38-37 in OT.

First in the east.

Haiku

The front line is strong
Hellyer, Jones will score a bunch
Good team gets better

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Pre-season game report: Black Wolves 10 @ Rock 13

Saturday night featured the final game of the pre-season, the New England Black Wolves visiting the Toronto Rock. After a strong first quarter, the Rock gave up the lead in the second and were down 7-5 at the half. New England continued their strong play in the low-scoring third, taking a 9-6 lead, but Toronto’s offense suddenly came to life in the fourth. They scored four goals in about a minute and a half to take the lead. New England tied it up at 10 but two more goals by the Rock plus an empty-netter gave the Rock a 13-10 victory.

Aaron Bold started in net for the Black Wolves, and I was interested to see how he’d perform for his new team. The answer: pretty well. He only allowed five goals, and made all the stops he was expected to make. He wasn’t super-energetic but wasn’t really tested much so he didn’t have to be. Doug Jamieson played the second half and despite giving up more goals, I thought he was better than Bold. He faced an Adam Jones penalty shot, where he waited Jones out and then prevented the last-second dunk attempt, and stopped a Latrell Harris breakaway as well. He did allow the four goals in 90 seconds but besides that short blip, Jamieson was great.

Nick Rose played the entire game for the Rock and was solid. One move he seems to be making more this year is when a shot comes in low, he stops it and flips the ball high in the air, then either catches it or reaches up and scoops it. Seems like a dangerous move to me; I’d rather have him just catch it, but it’s better than giving up a rebound.

The Black Wolves warming up. Photo credit: me

Both teams were without one or two of their top scorers: neither Shawn Evans nor Kevin Crowley played for New England and Tom Schreiber was missing for the Rock. Evans was there and participated in the warmups but didn’t play in the game. I thought Kyle Buchanan and Reilly O’Connor played really well on the offense and David Brock on the D. I was sitting near friends and/or family of Wolves transition player Colton Wilkinson, and he also played well, even scoring a pretty transition goal.

For the Rock, I saw Dan Lintner a lot, and Hellyer / Hickey / Jones looked pretty good though there were some sloppy plays here and there – someone passing to where someone else was a few seconds ago, or where they thought they should be rather than where they are. I also noticed Drew Belgrave and Brock Sorensen on the defensive side. Belgrave’s got some speed and made a few nifty moves on some Wolves defenders while waiting for the offense to get onto the floor. If the Rock are going to be without Jesse Gamble this season, Belgrave looks like he might be a pretty decent replacement.

Scorers: for New England, Kyle Buchanan (3), O’Connor (2), and singles by Oakes, Chaykowsky, Bomberry, Coyle, and Watkinson. For Toronto: Hellyer (3), Hickey (3), Jones (2), Lintner (2), Reinholdt (2), and Caputo (who still doesn’t have his name on his jersey) had one.

Other game notes:

  • The Rock’s game summary featured this description of Reid Reinholdt’s goal in the fourth: “Reinholdt scored on a backhand shovel shot that would have made Rock legend Colin Doyle proud.” I didn’t think about it at the time but they’re right – I can totally see Colin Doyle taking that shot.
  • Props to Black Wolves rookie Nick Chaykowsky, who stood his ground as the 6’4″ Brodie Merrill was coming up the floor in transition. Merrill hit Chaykowsky square in the chest but it was Merrill that bounced back – Chaykowsky didn’t move.
  • Dan Lintner scored a goal in the fourth quarter that looked like what I’ll call a “crease-diving alley oop”, which may or may not be a thing. It was on the net furthest from me so I didn’t have a great view, but someone passed him the ball and he dove across the crease and scored. But the timing was such that it looked like he received the pass while already in the air sideways. This would have to be a set play and the odds of it working are almost zero so I’m sure I just got the timing wrong or something. Nice goal though.
  • The Black Wolves were wearing orange jerseys (without names, grrrrrr) with black numbers on the back (see above). Had to remind myself that they weren’t the Bandits.
  • No diet pop at the TRAC! Not all of us are athletes who need Gatorade ya know! Though the bottle of water I ended up having was healthier than the Coke Zero I wanted, so thanks, I guess.

Presenting your 2018 Boston Blazers

As I do most years, I’ve made up a 20-man roster full of non-retired players who are not on any NLL active or practice rosters (or IR or holdout or other lists) but if there was one more team in the league, they might be. Next year, this list will be quite different, seeing as we’ll have two extra teams.

Boston Blazers

Forwards

Keegan Bal
Garrett Billings
Cory Conway
Zach Herreweyers
Mikey MacDonald
Quinn Powless (on Rochester’s practice roster)
Daryl Veltman

Defense / Transition

Dan Ball
Scott Carnegie
Jordan Dance
Jarrett Davis
Ilija Gajic
Alex Kedoh Hill
Ryan Hotaling (on IR with New England)
Mitch McMichael
Bill O’Brien
Andrew Watt
Sean Young

Goaltenders

Zach Higgins
Tyler Richards

Pratice Roster

Zak Boychuk
Blaze Riorden
Derek Searle

2018 NLL: Who’s in, who’s out

Here it is: a complete summary of all the roster changes for each team, all in one place.

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 2017. And a player who’s injured but still part of that team will be listed as “out”.

Last updated: December 7, 2017

BanditsBuffalo Bandits

In: Reid Acton, Alex Buque, Josh Byrne, Callum Crawford, Jordan Durston, Chase Fraser, Ethan Schott, Ryan Wagner
Out: Ryan Benesch, Anthony Cosmo, Tim Edwards, Alex Kedoh Hill, Anthony Malcom, Blaze Riorden, Billy Dee Smith, Andrew Watt, Adam Will
IR:
PUP: Dallas Bridle
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Gowah Abrams, Vaughan Harris, Liam Patten, Zac Reid

Tons of new faces for the Bandits including three rookies. Callum Crawford strengthens the Bandits’ right side while his former Swarm teammate Ryan Benesch is replaced on the left side by Jordan Durston. Alex Buque replaces newly retired Anthony Cosmo and will probably get the nod as the everyday starter.

According to Steve Bermel just moments ago (I was literally seconds away from clicking the “publish” button on this article when I saw his tweet), Alex Kedoh Hill is an RFA because the Bandits offered him a contract but he didn’t sign it. “If any team makes him an offer, the Bandits have 72 hours to match it.”


SwarmGeorgia Swarm

In: Frank Brown, Warren Hill, Jesse King, Kevin Orleman, Zed Williams
Out: Mitch Belisle, Liam Byrnes, Jordan Hall, Brodie MacDonald, Ethan O’Connor, Chad Tutton, Joel White
IR:
PUP: Chad Tutton
Holdout: Jordan Hall, Mason Jones, Ethan O’Connor, Joel White
Practice Roster: Liam Byrnes, Isaiah Davis-Allen, Lauchlin Elder, Brayden Hill

More changes to the Swarm roster than they might have liked. Hall and White are out for non-lacrosse-job-related reasons, Belisle retired, MacDonald was traded, and Tutton is injured. Jordan Hall was acquired last year when the Swarm found out that Jesse King would miss the season, but this year the Swarm were going to have a “problem” fitting King into the lineup. Problem solved – King ironically replaces Hall who’s going to miss the season. The Swarm have made the odd move of keeping three goaltenders on the roster.


BlackWolvesNew England Black Wolves

In: Aaron Bold, Adam Bomberry, David Brock, Mark Cockerton, JP Kealey, John Lafontaine, Colton Watkinson
Out: Brett Bucktooth, Chad Culp, Ryan Hotaling, Evan Kirk, Brooker Muir, Bill O’Brien, Zac Reid
IR: Ryan Hotaling
PUP:
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Nick Chaykowsky, Anthony Joaquim, Nick Mariano, Rance Vigneux

The biggest move is obviously at goaltender, where Aaron Bold replaces Evan Kirk. David Brock becomes the latest ex-Bandit to join the Black Wolves. Bucktooth and Culp retired, and the release of Bill O’Brien was a bit of a surprise, seeing as he was one of the faces of the franchise in recent years. All four guys on the practice roster will be featured in the NLL Pronunciation Guide when they make the NLL.


KnighthawksRochester Knighthawks

In: Eric Fannell, Austin Shanks, Eric Shewel, Billy Dee Smith, Jake Withers
Out: Jordan Dance, Jarrett Davis, Dylan Evans, Marty Hill, Luke Laskiewicz, Quinn Powless, Andrew Suitor, Sean Young
IR: Cody Jamieson
PUP: Dylan Evans
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Greg Longboat, Adam Perroni, Quinn Powless, Mike Triolo

A bunch of rookies and a 35-year-old vet join the Knighthawks, while most of the “Out” list are guys who only played one year with Rochester. Jarrett Davis is both in that club (played 2017 in Roch and Saskatchewan the year before that) and not in that club (played two years in Roch in 2011-2012).

Notably absent is Cody Jamieson, who will start the year on the IR. All the team has said is that Jamieson has “been making great strides to get back in the lineup”. But given what happened last year (he came back from being injured in the playoffs the year before, played five minutes, tweaked his knee again, and missed the rest of the season), I imagine they’ll play it pretty safe this time around.


RockToronto Rock

In: Phil Caputo, Rob Hellyer, Adam Jones, Brandon Slade, Brock Sorensen
Out: Kasey Beirnes, Turner Evans, Jesse Gamble, Jeff Gilbert, Challen Rogers
IR: Turner Evans, Challen Rogers
PUP: Dan Craig
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Drew Belgrave, Riley Hutchcraft, Adam Jay, Darryl Robertson
Protected: Paul Rabil

Caputo was on the team for parts of last season but as an offensive player. With the return of Hellyer and the addition of Jones, his skills aren’t really needed up front so he’s now a defender and will probably play some transition as well. Gamble will miss the year for work and Beirnes and Gilbert retired. Rob Marshall retired as well but he missed almost all of last year. As a Rock fan, I’m looking forward to the potentially devastating front line of Hellyer / Hickey / Jones / Leblanc / Schreiber / Lintner.


RoughnecksCalgary Roughnecks

In: Zach Currier, Anthony Kalinich, Tyler Pace
Out: Mike Carnegie, Scott Carnegie, Jeff Shattler, Bob Snider
IR: Kellen LeClair
PUP: Mike Carnegie
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Steph Charbonneau, Ryan Martel, Bob Snider

The “In” list is all rookies, but there are some big names on that “Out” list. Wes Berg hasn’t signed a contract yet, so you’d hope he won’t be out for long. Shattler was signed by the rival Rush, Mike Carnegie is injured, Scott Carnegie was cut (!!) and Bob Snider is on the practice roster.

Update: Wes Berg was signed.


MammothColorado Mammoth

In: Ryan Benesch, Scott Carnegie, Brody Eastwood, Steve Fryer, Rowan Kelly, Ryan Lee, Quinn MacKay, Nick Ossello
Out: Brent Adams, Alex Buque, Dan Coates, Callum Crawford, Ilija Gajic, Cam Holding, Bryce Sweeting
IR: Brent Adams
PUP: Dan Coates, Zack Greer, Cam Holding, Bryce Sweeting
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Tim Edwards, Rowan Kelly, Jarrod Neumann, Nick Ossello

2018 will be the first season without Ilija Gajic in the league since 2009. Benny takes over for Crawford while Fryer assumes the backup goalie role left by Buque. The losses of Holding and Coates will not help the defense but they still have Hope. (See what I did there?)


RushSaskatchewan Rush

In: Evan Kirk, Jeff Shattler
Out: Aaron Bold, Adam Jones, John Lafontaine
IR:
PUP: Nic Bilic
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Nick Finlay, Johnny Pearson, Tor Reinholdt, Adam Shute

As usual, not many changes for the Rush but the changes they did make are pretty significant. Bold is out, Kirk is in, while Adam Jones is in Toronto, replaced by Jeff Shattler. John Lafontaine is in New England and will likely be replaced by Nic Bilic when he returns from injury.


StealthVancouver Stealth

In: Ryan Fournier, Brandon Goodwin, Brodie MacDonald, Tony Malcom, Andrew Suitor
Out: Cory Conway, Jordan Durston, Jon Harnett, Curtis Hodgson, Thomas Hoggarth, Tyler Richards, Ryan Wagner
IR: Jon Harnett, Thomas Hoggarth, Casey Jackson
PUP:
Holdout: Tyler Garrison, Jarrett Toll
Practice Roster: Patrick O’Meara, Eric Penney, Tyson Roe, Cody Teichroeb

The Cory Conway experiment lasted about half a year. No mention was made of Garrett Billings at all this pre-season so that experiment is also over (but we knew that at the end of last season). Hodgson retired, Richards was released, and Durston and Wagner are now Bandits. Brodie MacDonald beat out Eric Penney and Zach Higgins for the backup goalie job, but that was not a surprise either. The Stealth traded for MacDonald a month ago, and you don’t trade for someone to let them compete for a job. Andrew Suitor was likely a nice surprise for the Stealth – they picked him up two days before rosters were due to be submitted to the league. A nice surprise, that is, for everyone except the defenseman who was cut to make room for Suitor.

Pre-season game report: Mammoth 15 @ Rock 15

The pre-season scrimmages continue this week. The Rush and Swarm played a rematch of last year’s finals, the Bandits and Black Wolves faced off, and the Stealth and Roughnecks played again after facing each other last weekend. In Oakville, the TRAC was rockin’ once again, this time featuring the Colorado Mammoth taking on the Rock. The game ended deadlocked at 15 and they decided not to play overtime, so it ended in a rare lacrosse tie.

Most of the Rock players who did not play last week were there this week: Jones, Leblanc, Brodie Merrill, Hostrawser, Chapman, Edwards, and Rose. Still no sign of Challen Rogers or Jeff Gilbert. Nick Rose played the first half in net while Brandon Miller played the second half. They gave up 15 goals so it’s hard to say either one was particularly good but neither was terrible either. Rose and the defense were very good in the first quarter, giving up very few chances. That changed in the second quarter as the Mammoth got back into the game. I didn’t think Brandon Miller was great last week but he was much better this week. The Mammoth outshot the Rock 55 to 50, and that margin got much closer near the end of the game. I think Colorado were outshooting Toronto by as many as 10 or 15 at some points.

We finally got a look at Adam Jones in a Rock uniform, and he didn’t disappoint. He did the standard Adam Jones thing, shooting through traffic at a spot he can’t possibly hit, but he hit it anyway. Tom Schreiber seemed a little more frustrated than last week, but Kieran McArdle scored a couple of nice goals. For the Mammoth, I was surprised that I only heard Ryan Benesch’s name twice – once on an assist near the end of the second, and then he scored a goal a minute later. I don’t think he played in the second half. Considering the Mammoth scored 15 goals, I’m a little surprised I didn’t hear the names Jeremy Noble or Eli McLaughlin much either.

Dillon Ward started for the Mammoth and didn’t seem to be seeing the ball very well. He was replaced partway through the second quarter but oddly, he went straight to the dressing room and we never saw him again. Steve Fryer took over in net, and the team had no goalie on the bench until well into the third quarter. Brandon Humphrey took over in net in the third.

The Mammoth warm up (photo credit: me)

The game started off very physical, but that mostly went away after ten minutes or so. Not entirely, of course, but it wasn’t as chippy as it looked like it was going to be. In the third or early fourth there was one… “incident” is too strong a term, maybe “occurrence”. A couple of players between the benches did the chest bumping thing and some teammates and the refs went over to pull them apart before anything could happen, and that was it. No penalties came from it. Thinking about it now, I think there was a similar “occurrence” near one of the nets later in the game. Again, no penalties.

Top players of the game for the Rock: Adam Jones, Brodie Merrill. Dan Lintner only played the first half (I think) but played hard. I’m liking his game more and more. I also noticed Drew Belgrave getting a lot of playing time, and coming up the floor a lot in transition. Brandon Slade scored a very nice transition goal in the fourth – he received an outlet pass around centre and basically ran straight in on goal on a 2-on-1. While the defender protected against the pass, Slade got to the crease, faked the shot, waited until Humphrey made his move, and then shot far top corner. He showed great patience and it paid off.

For the Mammoth, I saw Nick Ossello a lot and Jordan Gilles had a strong game in transition as well, setting up a couple of goals on really great plays. I thought Stephen Keogh had a good game as well, but I’m a big fan of his so he’d have to play pretty badly for me not to include him.

Goal scorers for the Mammoth: Wardle (3), Keogh (3), Lee (2), and one each for Benesch, Eastwood, Ruest (announced as “Roost”… sigh), Noble, McLaughlin, McKay, and Bal. For the Rock: Jones (4), Leblanc (3), Hickey (2), McArdle (2), and one each for Hellyer, Schreiber, Lintner, and Slade.

Other game notes:

  • Keegan Bal was not listed on the Mammoth roster. After he scored a goal in the first quarter, the PA announcement was simply: “Colorado goal scored by number 91.”
  • Both teams had their names on the jerseys except Mark Farthing for the Mammoth and Phil Caputo for the Rock. Caputo’s name wasn’t on his jersey last week either, but all of the rookies’ jerseys had names on them, so I’m not sure why Caputo got hosed.
  • Play was still pretty sloppy but not as bad as last week.
  • Weird play of the night: I’m not sure of the details but it looked something like this: A Rock player deflected the ball towards his own net, and Rose made a casual stick save, launching the ball into the air. When it came back down, another Rock player somehow hit it back towards the net, and again Rose made a stick save, knocking the ball behind him over the net. It hit the boards or took a weird bounce or something and ended up in front of the net again, just rolling slowly towards centre but out of Rose’s reach. No Rock player did anything but a Mammoth player grabbed it and took a quick shot. Rose stopped that one as well. Three saves but only one actual shot.
  • The music was very loud. Like, very loud. In the first half, some fans tried a “Go Rock Go!” cheer but it was completely drowned out by the music and didn’t last long. The team actually had former Rock player Nick Diachenko as the DJ for the night (I believe that’s his non-lacrosse job), and sorry Nick, but I wasn’t impressed. There were a ton of remixes; it seemed that 80% of the songs were either originals or covers (of various genres) sped up with drum machines backing them up. It sounded like we were at a dance club, and I haven’t been to a dance club for 25 years. Then again, a 48-year-old man who doesn’t dance is not likely his target demographic so I imagine he couldn’t care less whether I was impressed or not. The younger woman sitting next to me and the teenage girl a couple of rows ahead of me were dancing in their seats all night.

Pre-season game report: Rush 11 @ Rock 13

The NLL is back! After a long summer, we finally have NLL action again, even if it’s pre-season. In fact there’s lots of it: not only did the Rush take on the Rock at the TRAC on Saturday, the Roughnecks played a doubleheader at the LEC, playing the Mammoth in the afternoon and the Stealth later in the evening. I’m guessing that was a split-squad thing like they do in baseball.

I arrived late to the TRAC, only 10-12 minutes before game time. As a result, I got the honour of standing for the entire game, down in the corner near the scoreboard. I was right at the glass though, so it wasn’t so bad – see the picture below. I had a great view of half the game and a lousy view of the other half.

This being a pre-season game, both teams had some missing pieces: the Rush played four goaltenders, one for each quarter, none of whom were Evan Kirk. Chris Corbeil, Nic Bilic, and Jeremy Thompson were also missing, and Mark Matthews, Jeff Shattler, and Ben McIntosh only played the first half. At the other end, Adam Jones did not make his Rock debut, and Challen Rogers, Sandy Chapman, Stephan Leblanc, Brodie Merrill, Jeff Gilbert, Bill Hostrawser, Damon Edwards, and Nick Rose were out.

The Rush warming up

As I said, the Rush played four goaltenders, each looking for that coveted “backing up Evan Kirk and thus working the door for 95% of the season” position. This race started and ended strong, as Tyler Carlson was sharp in the first quarter and former Rock backup Zac Boychuk did well in the fourth though he was at the far end of the floor so I couldn’t really tell. Pete Dubenski played in the second and again, he was at the far end from me but Adam Shute was near me in the third. He wasn’t bad but did allow a couple of soft ones.

The Rock also swapped goalies, with Brandon Miller playing in the first half (and struggled a little – not quite the strong performance we saw at the Heritage Cup a few weeks back) and draftee Riley Hutchcraft playing in the second half. Hutchcraft came out wearing #1 in the third quarter, but was wearing #52 (with no name on the jersey) in the fourth.  I confirmed with the NLL’s Tyson Geick that it was still Hutchcraft, who must have changed jerseys. Hutch (I’m assuming his nickname is Hutch) allowed a couple of quick goals to start the third, but settled down and played pretty well after that.

Awesome

  • Mark Matthews. Mark Matthews is awesome. That’s all I have to say about that.
  • Jeff Shattler made his Rush debut and looked good, scoring one goal.
  • The Rush defense looked as strong as ever, despite being down a few regulars. By the time we were halfway through the first quarter, I had noted pass interceptions by both Dilks and Rubisch.
  • In the second quarter, a Rush player took a shot, which Miller stopped. The ball dropped and began rolling towards the goal line, but Miller couldn’t see it. Defender Brandon Slade did and grabbed it before it crossed the line. Nice play.
  • More D: During a Rush 5-on-3, Brad Kri and Latrell Harris both made some great plays to prevent goals. I believe the Rush did eventually score on the 5-on-3.
  • Near the end of the second quarter, the music playing on the PA suddenly stopped and all you could hear was the sound of the game. This was awesome, but they started up the music again a couple of minutes later.
  • At the end of the second quarter, Brock Sorensen found himself in front of the Rush crease with the ball while on the move. He scored a beautiful jumping goal… that went in about a half-second after the buzzer. It didn’t count, but it was a thing of beauty.
  • Tom Schreiber looked to be continuing from where he left off last season. I had to smile when I heard my first “Schreiber, from Hellyer and Hickey” call. I suspect I’ll be hearing those three names, in various orders, many times throughout the season.

Not awesome

  • Lots of dropped and missed passes on both sides. “Mid-season form” this was not.
  • Would have been nice to see Adam Jones. Looking forward to hearing my first “Jones, from Hellyer and Hickey” call.
  • One of Tom Schreiber’s three goals was assisted by Seth Laidlaw but the announcer said that Lyndon Bunio got the assist. It likely makes no difference at all but for the record, it was Laidlaw.
  • Robert Church did play but I barely noticed him. It’s possible he also only played half the game.
  • I will leave home earlier for next week’s game in the hopes of getting a seat. The seats at the TRAC aren’t that comfortable, but it’s better than standing for two hours.

Other game notes

  • Only one person on either team was listed as transition: Rush rookie Austin Murphy.
  • Rock rookies I noticed: Drew Belgrave looked very large, Connor Cole looked very fast, and Brett Ulbikas and Lyndon Bunio look like they need to be added to my name pronunciation guide. If Bunio makes the team, I apologize in advance for the number of times I will accidentally type “Bunion” instead.
  • The Rush didn’t have names on their jerseys so it was a little harder to spot the rookies.
  • Derek Keenan was not behind the bench for the Rush – he was upstairs in the press area. I imagine it’s a bit of a treat to watch your own team from afar without having to be involved in every decision.

Photo credit: me

2018 NLL Milestones

A number of player and team milestones can be reached this year. Here’s a list of the most likely:

Teams

Wins & losses

Rochester’s first win of the season will be the franchise’s 200th. Calgary needs three for 150.

Buffalo needs three away wins to give them 100 in franchise history.

Toronto’s next win at the ACC will be their 100th home victory.

The Vancouver Stealth will break into double digits in the “away win” category with their first win on the road. That’s right, after four full seasons in Vancouver the Stealth have only won 9 games on the road. Total.

Goals

Buffalo is 63 goals away from becoming the first NLL team to score 5000 goals. They are already 500 goals ahead of anyone else (Wings) and 700 ahead of any active team (Knighthawks). On the other end of the spectrum, Saskatchewan needs 36 goals to reach 500.

Colorado needs 3 at home to hit 1500, and 42 on the road to hit 1500. This also means that they need 45 total to hit 3000. If they give up 103, they’ll hit 3000 goals allowed.

Team Leaders

Dane Dobbie will take over the all-time Roughnecks lead in points from Jeff Shattler with his 18th of the year. Stephan Leblanc could pass Josh Sanderson for 3rd on the Rock’s points list with 77 points. Dhane Smith needs 22 goals to tie Mike Accursi for 3rd all-time in Bandits goals.

Small sidetrack: I’ve talked about John Tavares and his amazing numbers a million times here, and I’m going to do it again. After only five seasons, Dhane Smith is already third on the Bandits points list, but he’s 542 behind the still-active Mark Steenhuis, who’s 779 behind John Tavares. Steenhuis is second in Bandits goals but needs 371 to catch JT. To illustrate just how far behind that is, only 14 players have ever scored more than 371 goals in their career, and Shawn Evans isn’t one of them. In order to break JT’s record, Steenhuis would have to score as many goals as Shawn Evans ever has – starting now – and he’d still be short by 3.

Other combinations of players who don’t add up to Tavares’s goal total: Dan Dawson & Rhys Duch, Josh Sanderson & Ryan Benesch, and Paul Gait & Tom Marechek.

In case there was any doubt before now (and there wasn’t), Tavares’s records will stand for a long time. OK, back to the milestones for 2018.


Players

Goals

Player… Needs… To reach…
Dan Dawson 31 500
Shawn Evans 32 400
Ryan Benesch 38 400
Callum Crawford 24 300
Jeff Shattler 32 300
Cody Jamieson 1 200
Dhane Smith 15 200
Joe Resetarits 3 100
Curtis Knight 6 100
Brad Self 9 100

Assists

Player… Needs… To reach…
Shawn Evans 57 700
Mark Steenhuis 55 600
Rhys Duch 22 500
Ryan Benesch 25 500
Stephan Leblanc 49 400
Brodie Merrill 15 300
Mark Matthews 18 300
Corey Small 18 300
Rob Hellyer 8 200
Zack Greer 21 200
Robert Church 21 200
Logan Schuss 23 200

Shawn Evans

Points

Player… Needs… To reach…
Dan Dawson 39 1300
Shawn Evans 89 1100
Mark Steenhuis 100 1100
Ryan Benesch 63 900
Rhys Duch 31 900
Callum Crawford 11 800
Jeff Shattler 15 700
Dane Dobbie 34 700
Stephan Leblanc 2 600
Curtis Dickson 50 600
Cody Jamieson 72 600
Kevin Crowley 43 500
Adam Jones 69 500
Dhane Smith 72 500

Loose Balls

Player… Needs… To reach…
Brodie Merrill 15 2200
Mark Steenhuis 30 1500
Jay Thorimbert 72 1400
Shawn Evans 69 1200
Jeff Shattler 91 1200
Ian Hawksbee 35 1100
Jordan MacIntosh 40 1100
Sandy Chapman 12 1000

PIM

Player… Needs… To reach…
Billy Dee Smith 76 700
Mark Steenhuis 8 400

Games

Player… Needs… To reach…
Brodie Merrill 3 200
Shawn Evans 5 200
Billy Dee Smith 8 200
Matt Vinc 14 200
John Lafontaine 2 100
Frank Scigliano 2 100
Johnny Powless 5 100
Adam Jones 9 100

Goalie Minutes

Player… Needs… To reach…
Brandon Miller 199 8000
Aaron Bold 403 7000
Mike Poulin 752 7000
Evan Kirk 648 5000
Nick Rose 664 5000

Goals against

Player… Needs… To reach…
Brandon Miller 27 1600
Aaron Bold 70 1200
Evan Kirk 99 1000

Saves

Player… Needs… To reach…
Matt Vinc 533 7000
Mike Poulin 70 4000
Aaron Bold 223 4000
Evan Kirk 68 3000
Nick Rose 196 3000

Leaders

This section is for players who are close to passing a retired player on the career list in a particular category.

Player… Needs… To tie… For…
Shawn Evans 15 goals Kasey Beirnes/Tracey Kelusky 13th
23 goals Mike Accursi 12th
Ryan Benesch 21 goals Kasey Beirnes/Tracey Kelusky 13th
29 goals Mike Accursi 12th
Rhys Duch 32 goals Kasey Beirnes/Tracey Kelusky 13th
40 goals Mike Accursi 12th
Dane Dobbie 3 goals Chris Gill 18th
Curtis Dickson 2 goals Kaleb Toth 23rd
5 goals Pat Maddalena 22nd
Dan Dawson 55 assists Colin Doyle 3rd
Shawn Evans 65 assists Shawn Williams 6th
Callum Crawford 6 assists Lewis Ratcliff 12th
13 assists Blaine Manning 11th
Rhys Duch 15 assists Jim Veltman 14th
Ryan Benesch 18 assists Jim Veltman 14th
Dan Dawson 86 points Josh Sanderson 4th
Ryan Benesch 85 points Gavin Prout 11th
Rhys Duch 4 points Blaine Manning 13th
Callum Crawford 34 points Tracey Kelusky 16th
Jeff Shattler 2 points Kasey Beirnes 21st
Matt Vinc 134 goals against Bob Watson 4th
Matt Vinc 4 saves Bob Watson 2nd
Mike Poulin 45 saves Matt Roik 12th
Brodie Merrill 39 LB Jim Veltman 1st
Mark Steenhuis 46 LB Pat McCready 5th
Shawn Evans 22 LB Phil Sanderson 10th
Jeff Shattler 10 LB John Grant 12th

Brodie Merrill will break Jim Veltman’s career loose ball total of 2417 early in the 2018 season. I predicted this back in 2011, though you’ll notice I assumed Merrill would play in all 16 (not 18) of his team’s games every year, and I did not foresee Geoff Snider’s retirement.