Can you believe we’re done week 16? And as great as this season has been so far, it only gets better. Obviously the playoffs are approaching, but next week features some epic matchups. Halifax plays Buffalo twice. Georgia, who are on a 3-game winning streak, are in Toronto, Colorado is in Panther City, Albany visits New York, and Philly is in Rochester. Calgary vs. Saskatchewan is always a great matchup regardless of either team’s record. If you look solely at the records, San Diego in Vancouver might be the easiest of the bunch to predict but would anybody be surprised if Vancouver pulled off an upset win at home?
Vancouver / Colorado
There are only two words to describe Friday night’s game:
Vancouver was up 14-7 more than halfway through the third quarter. But the Mammoth kept chipping away and with less than six minutes left in regulation, they took the lead, the Warriors took it back, and then Colorado tied it up again; the final game-tying goal came with less than a minute left. Then 3½ minutes into the overtime quarter, Eli McLaughlin scored his fifth of the game to win it for the Mammoth 17-16. So after it was 14-7, the Mammoth outscored the Warriors 10-2. Obviously this brings back memories of their comeback earlier this year, also against Vancouver, when they were down 10-2 in the second and came back to win 18-15. On Saturday, the Mammoth were down 4-1 early in the second and came back again to tie it in the fourth, but that was only a three-goal deficit, and they ended up losing the game. But the net takeaway here: never count the Mammoth out of a game.
Keegan Bal (pictured) had 8 goals and 4 assists, but those twelve points weren’t even a career high for him; he had 14 in a game back in 2019. Eli McLaughlin had 5+6, also not a career high since he had 12 also in 2019. Ryan Lee had a goal and twelve assists, which is a career high. That means we had three players with 11+ points in the same game. This has only been done once before (in the last seventeen years, anyway), and that was seven weeks ago when Jeff Teat, Callum Crawford, and Dhane Smith had 12, 11, and 11 respectively.
PCLC is awesome again – actually I should probably say they are still awesome, since they were on my Awesome list last week too. They are fourth in the West, only half a game out of a playoff spot. At one point they were 1-8, and their one win was against the winless Riptide (who have also gotten way better). Now they’ve won four straight, all against division rivals. They’re playing with confidence, and they look like they’re having a ton of fun. This makes sense; in the words of the great philosopher Nuke LaLoosh: “Y’know, winning? It’s like, better’n losing?” Kudos to Bob Hamley for putting the team together and to Tracey Kelusky for making them a team.
Think of what this team might be like next year when all of these young guys have another year under their belts, plus they’re able to add the injured Randy Staats as well as last year’s first overall draft pick Jonathan Donville.
Jeff Teat is a lock for Rookie of the Year, right? Not so fast. Right now I’d say yes, he’s the front runner but the season ain’t over yet, and Patrick Dodds may have something to say about it. I briefly mentioned him last week, but Dodds is leading his team in scoring with 62 points in 12 games and has averaged 7.4 over his last five. A 7.4 average over 18 games is a 133-point pace. No, he likely won’t keep that up and unless Teat collapses over the Riptide’s second half of the season, he’s probably still your best bet for ROY but as I said last week, you definitely have to include Dodds in that conversation (along with Tre Leclaire, Reid Bowering, Ryan Smith, Tehoka Nanticoke, Larson Sundown, …).
Sometimes you just lose
I didn’t want to put Joel Watson’s or Dillon Ward’s names as the title of this entry because it’s not that they were not awesome. Watson made his second career NLL start on Saturday and finished the game with an 83% save percentage, only allowing 9 goals. Dillon Ward also lost this weekend, despite 8 GA and an 84% save percentage. Those are both great stat lines, and lines like that are usually good enough for a win but when your team only scores six or seven, you get tagged with the loss. But that’s sports: Watson and Ward played this well and got the loss, while Matt Vinc allowed 17 goals and had a 65.3% save percentage a few weeks ago and got the win.
The win and loss stats in lacrosse are similar to those for pitchers in baseball – it’s a team sport, so a goalie’s win/loss record is not always indicative of how well that goalie played.