The playoff picture in the West is almost set – we know the four teams who will be in the post-season. In are the Seals, Roughnecks, PCLC, and Mammoth. The top two will be the Seals and Roughnecks but we don’t know the order, and third and fourth will be PCLC and the Mammoth, but we don’t know the order.
The East is less set. Similar to the West, we know the top two will be the Rock and Bandits, and next week’s matchup in Banditland will decide the order. But the other two spots are up for grabs. It could be Halifax/Rochester, or Rochester/Halifax, or Rochester/Georgia, or Georgia/Halifax, or Georgia/Philadelphia, or Halifax/Philadelphia, or possibly others. We could have all four of those teams tied at 9-9, which case I believe we’d have Halifax 3rd and Philadelphia 4th.
There are only 13 games left in the 2023 regular season, but still lots to be decided.
Brett Dobson and other young goaltenders
Yup, I’ve used this one before, but dammit, they’re still awesome.
Brett Dobson had a rough start to his NLL career, losing four games with a 13.79 GAA and 73.5% save percentage over his first six appearances. But then seemed to think “Oh wait, now I get it” and in his very next game, he became the first rookie goaltender in NLL history to hold an opposing team to 4 goals while playing 55+ minutes. With that game, he was suddenly untouchable. In his last nine games, Dobson has an 82.3% save percentage and an 8.51 GAA. Both of those stats would lead the league – and when you consider the excellent seasons that Christian Del Bianco and Nick Rose are having, that’s damned impressive. Of course it’s true that “if you take away his bad games, his numbers look better” but that’s not what we’re talking about here. I’m not cherry-picking his nine best games. It’s a sample size of nine consecutive games, half a season, and that includes one game where he gave up 17 and had a save percentage under 60%. He’s still fourth in the league among starters in both save percentage and GAA, and that’s including his rough start. All this to say that he’s turned that rough start into an outstanding rookie season.
The NLL award voters are only supposed to consider the regular season, not the playoffs. In fact voting is done before the playoffs begin. But if the Swarm make the playoffs, Dobson has to be given some serious consideration for Rookie of the Year. Actually, I’d consider him even if the Swarm don’t make the playoffs, just for helping to give them the chance to contend. He’s not the sole reason for their turnaround, but he’s a huge part of it.
Other young goalies who had awesome weekends:
- Aden Walsh has also had a rough season, but on Saturday, he played an excellent game. The Warriors lost but Walsh held Panther City to 9 goals on 58 shots, an 84.5% save percentage. Not bad considering he’d played zero minutes since early February.
- Nick Damude is a big reason why Panther City has made the playoffs in only their second NLL season. He’s just ahead of Dobson in GAA and just behind in Save percentage, and on Saturday he kept the Warriors to 8 goals and had a save percentage of almost 85%.
- Cameron Dunkerley has only played in five games this season, and has lost three of them. But he hasn’t given up more than 11 goals in any of them, and only allowed 11 to the Bandits in overtime this past weekend. And if you saw Josh Byrne’s game-winning goal (how he managed to deke around the defender, jump, and then twist 90° and shoot a bullet before landing), you could forgive Dunkerley for not being able to stop that one.
Panther City makes the playoffs
For the first time in team history, the Panther City Lacrosse Club are in the NLL playoffs. That’s pretty cool but when you consider this only their second season in the league, that’s even better. They took a 4-2 lead in the first quarter on Saturday night, then allowed Vancouver to come back and take the lead in the second. PCLC tied it in the third and fourth quarters, only to see the Warriors retake the lead again each time. But Matt Hossack tied it up yet again with under two minutes left in regulation, and only 33 seconds after that, Josh Medeiros gave Panther City their first lead since midway through the first, and they held on to complete the comeback.
Remember this faceoff we saw a couple of weeks ago between two of the best face-off guys in the league, Trevor Baptiste and Jake Withers? That one took over 30 seconds to decide, and on Saturday, Baptiste and another faceoff expert, TD Ierlan, had one that lasted just about as long. After about 15 seconds of watching the two of them pushing with every muscle fiber they had, the crowd started to get louder and louder and by the time it was done (I don’t even remember who won it), they were both getting a huge ovation. Just as they finished, my son said “You know their shoulders are burning right now” and he was right, but I imagine their forearms, wrists, calves, hamstrings, core… were all burning too. I was wiped out just watching.
The Wings offense just couldn’t get anything going on Saturday night. Mitch Jones looked really good and scored five, and on at least a couple of his goals Nick Rose barely moved, implying either that he was screened and didn’t see the shot, or that he saw it but realized it was far too late to start moving. Taite Cattoni and Kiel Matisz had a goal each but that was it for the Wings offense. Joe Resetarits was all over the floor but just couldn’t score. Ben McIntosh and Blaze Riorden had a couple of assists each but were otherwise mostly invisible. No Matt Rambo, so that obviously didn’t help. But the Wings were up against the best defense in the league (a team 8.88 GAA, second-best in league history), who just got Mitch de Snoo back after missing a couple of weeks, and also added Chris Corbeil in his Rock debut. So were the Wings really that bad? No, they did what they could against a stifling defense.
Brock Sorensen injury
In the third quarter, Wings defender Brock Sorensen dropped to the floor, holding his leg. I don’t think anyone hit him or tripped him or anything, it looked like he might have just taken a bad step and rolled his ankle or something. But he was down for a long time before being helped off the floor, putting no weight on that leg. This was Sorensen’s first NLL game since April 2019 as a member of the Rock. He was injured in 2020, and then of course the pandemic hit. He was traded along with Alec Tulett to the Bandits for Mitch de Snoo, and the Bandits immediately traded him to the Wings for Liam Patten and Justin Guterding, but then he sat out 2022 and most of 2023 as well.
I really hope he’s OK and can return. If he can’t come back for one of the Wings’ last couple of games this season, hopefully he can rehab over the off-season and return for 2024. I don’t know exactly what his original injury was but if it was the same thing he hurt on Saturday, that might be it for Sorensen’s career. It sucks to see any player’s career cut short by injuries. It’s even worse to see someone spend four years rehabbing from the previous one, only to extend his playing career by 40 minutes.
NLL employees complaining online
This is not aimed at any one person or team, I’ve seen this a number of times this season and also in previous seasons. In my opinion, it’s a bad look when someone employed by an NLL team complains online about some call going against their team, even if they’re right. You’re always going to see fans of a team complaining when their team takes a penalty, or the opposing team does not take a penalty, or when a goal call or review doesn’t go their way, and that’s fine. That’s what fans do. But I think it’s different when the person complaining works for the team in question, regardless of their position.
Of course they’re entitled to their opinions, and of course they’re free to post such opinions online. I don’t even think they should be prevented from posting them or disciplined or fined or anything. I just don’t like it.
dobson, comizio, weidemann, lanchbury, and bomberry. arlotta retooled the swarm while nobody was watching. he might be the best gm in the nll but nobody gives him credit.