NLL Week 9

This past weekend was the 20th lowest-scoring weekend (i.e. average goals per game) in the history of the league, out of weekends that featured 3 or more games. 20th doesn’t sound like a big deal, but there have been 396 weekends that featured 3 or more games, and 95% of them were higher scoring.

But if you exclude the 18-17 game on Sunday, it jumps to the 4th lowest-scoring. This actually tells you nothing other than that if you change the stats, the stats change.

Let’s see what happened in week 9.

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The PLL and the indoor league

I’m a fan of the PLL. They seem like a first-rate operation, they treat their players well, they market themselves well, and they’ve obviously given a lot of thought to the game itself and how to improve it. The end result is a league featuring great players and great teams that’s a lot of fun to watch. But I do have an issue with their social media team.

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NLL Week 4-6

Week 4 had no games anyway, week 5’s were postponed, and week 6 was crazy busy. Here’s wassup.

Awesome

Ryan Benesch

Traded from Panther City to the Albany FireWolves, Beni joins his ninth NLL team (or eighth if you count the old Knighthawks and Halifax Thunderbirds together). Here’s how long Benesch has been around: when he was playing in his ninth season in the league, only one FireWolves forward (Joe Resetarits) had ever played a game in the NLL. There are only five franchises in the league he’s never been a part of: Philly (2.0), Rochester (2.0), Calgary, San Diego, and New York. He’s one of only 11 players to crack the 1000 career point plateau, and a sure-fire Hall of Famer. But more important than any of that for the FireWolves: he’s still an impact player who can help their offense. Benesch scored a couple in his Albany debut.

Image design: Dave SowdenColorado @ Vancouver

Vancouver started out with a 7-0 lead after less than five minutes. Dillon Ward wasn’t seeing the ball well, and everything the Warriors threw near the net went in. The over/under for this game was 21, and we hit that before halftime. But Colorado did the best thing they could have done – stay positive and keep chipping away at the lead. Before the third quarter was done, Colorado had tied it and taken a lead, and they ended up winning the game. Obviously the game (other than the first quarter) wasn’t awesome for the Warriors, but it certainly was for the Mammoth and for any non-Warriors fans watching.

Georgia @ Philly

After seeing a ton of goals scored on Friday night, we were treated to a defensive gem in a rare Saturday afternoon game in Philly. Only four goals were scored in the first half, and each team held the other scoreless in one quarter. Things opened up a bit in the second half but the game was tied at 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 10 before Ben McIntosh gave the Wings the lead with only a couple of minutes left. Lyle Thompson had five goals by that point, and the Wings wanted to make sure he wasn’t given the opportunity to score his sixth but to pay special attention to one player, you have to take your eyes off all the others just a little. Brendan Bomberry took full advantage of that and scored the game-tying goal with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. OT only lasted 15 seconds before Blaze Riorden scored to give the Wings the win, but the whole game was close and neither team was out of it until it was literally over, and you can’t ask for more than that.

Tucker out Lymphoma night

Not talking about the game here, just the event. (In fact, as a Rock fan, the game was definitely in the “not awesome” category. See below.) Hats off to the entire Bandits organization for doing this every year. Shawn Williams is one of the most well-respected players in league history, and what happened to his family must have been unbearable. But the Bandits have turned that tragedy into something positive for the Williams family, the lacrosse community as a whole, and the cancer hospitals that all the donation money goes to. It’s heartwarming to hear the players talk about it as not just another game, not just another fundraiser, but an important event. It really has turned into one of the biggest NLL events of the year, and it’s great to see the opposing teams (Toronto in this case) getting involved as well.

Every Child Matters

Speaking of important events… all of the NLL players wore special orange “Every Child Matters” shirts during warm-ups this past weekend. Panther City coach Tracey Kelusky even wore his under his blazer during the game. During halftime of all the games, there was an interview with Lyle Thompson talking about his family’s experiences with residential schools and why this day was so meaningful to them. This was a Halifax Thunderbirds initiative that the league adopted so shout out to the T-birds staff and all involved. If you don’t know anything about residential schools, go do some Googling and find out. If you’re not outraged when you’re done reading, go read it again since you obviously missed something.

These shirts are available for purchase so head over to the NLL Store and order one. FYI, I do not get commission or any kind of kickback for promoting that. I bought one myself.

Not Awesome

Pandemics

Yes, once again we have an entry that basically boils down to “Pandemics suck”. All three games from week 5 and one from week 6 had to be postponed due to the skyrocketing numbers of the omicron variant of Covid-19. Once again, it sucks but it was the right decision. In addition to the players who have tested positive, it’s starting to hit broadcasters as well, as both Brendan Glasheen and Pat Gregoire have tested positive. As a result, we had some guys have to come in and do the broadcasts on a couple of days notice, and one guy (Dave Leno) did two different games on the same day. That part is awesome (and he did a great job on the games too), but the fact that it was required because of Covid is not.

Now we just have to hope things quieten down a little or we might be looking at another… no, I’m not going to say it.

Rock and Rush offense

The Rock were without two of their top offensive stars, as Dan Dawson was on the Covid protocol list and Tom Schreiber was with his wife who’s expecting their first child. As a result, Rob Hellyer had to shoulder a lot of the load and Challen Rogers had to move up front. In addition, they decided to shake things up a little (more) by having one player, usually Rogers, stand behind the net and quarterback from there. You see this in hockey all the time but I haven’t seen it much in lacrosse. It didn’t seem to work though, as the Rock could only scrape together 6 goals. The whole game, it seemed like the Rock were killing a penalty, even when playing 5-on-5. It’s like they just couldn’t keep up with the Bandits. Nick Rose played well and other than the first quarter, the Rock defense also played well or this could have been a real blowout.

As for the Rush, they set a new team record by only scoring five goals against the FireWolves. Robert Church scored three but nobody else scored more than one and nobody else had more than 5 shots on goal. I didn’t see much of this game so I can’t comment on what went wrong. Obviously Ben McIntosh and Marty Dinsdale are missing from last season but the team has had some time to deal with that. However Jeff Shattler was also out due to Covid and that had a big impact as well. The Rush are 1-3 to start the season and it’s a little early to be hitting the panic button in Saskatchewan just yet, but I’m sure Jeff McComb and Derek Keenan are keeping an eye on things.