The Orange Crew, Nick, Cayla, and the Roughnecks

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching a different historical NLL game every Saturday evening and live-tweeting it. I started with the 2000 final in Toronto, where Kaleb Toth scored with a second left to give the Rock their second championship. Then it was the 2013 Championship when the Knighthawks beat the Washington Stealth in Langley (before they moved there), and last weekend it was a Detroit / Philadelphia game from 1994 which got called after three quarters because of insane fights. I had a lot of fun watching these replays and I got some comments from people on twitter who appreciated it as well. I even had a few people watching along with me.

The NLL had replayed some historical games on Facebook and BR Live over the past couple of weeks, and on Saturday they decided to re-run game 2 of last year’s Championship final between Calgary and Buffalo. A group of fans in Calgary called the Orange Crew decided to set up a zoom meeting to get a bunch of people together to watch the game. They asked me to be a part of it and I thought it would be fun. I was right.

We started about 8:45pm (my time) with a few of the Orange Crew, me, and a few other fans. I gave a bit of an overview of the 2019 season and how Calgary and Buffalo got to the finals, as well as a quick summary of Game 1.

By the time the game started, it was well after 9:00 but we had a number of others join the call including some special guests: NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz, Roughnecks reporter Cayla Spiess and Roughnecks players Dane Dobbie, Tyler Richards, and Zach Currier. Curtis Dickson joined in a little while later sporting an impressive fu manchu, and eventually Rhys Duch also joined, coincidentally (or not?) with just a few minutes left in the fourth quarter, not long before he scored the OT winner. There were about 16-18 people on the call for most of the game.

Curtis Dickson

The game itself was fine, but the call ended up as basically a two-plus hour interview of Sakiewicz and the Roughnecks players, who couldn’t have been more accommodating. They answered questions in great detail, and we got a lot of background and some fun stories as well. The commish talked about streaming and TV deals and the NLL’s relationship with the MLL and PLL (they talk all the time and confirmed that if there ever was an agreement among NLL staff that they don’t mention the MLL, that’s long gone now). He also talked about his transition from being an MLS owner to the NLL commissioner and his first experience watching box lacrosse and how impressed he was with the game, the players, and the experience.

Cayla had some great stories of being between the benches, getting spit on, and interviews that didn’t go the way she planned. All of the players were forthcoming and willing to answer questions. Some of the questions were tossed around a little – Dane would answer some of it and then ask Zach or Curtis to give their viewpoints as well. After the game ended and the call was basically over, Curtis and Dane even asked if there were more questions, and said they were willing to stay on until they’d answered them all – this was after over two hours of doing just that.

Dane Dobbie was the most vocal. I don’t know about the Orange Crew but I had never met nor talked to Dobbie before, but he talked to me and everyone else on the call like we’d been buds for years. If you’ve ever watched him play, his passion for the game is obvious but it even came through in how he talks about it. He talked about his respect for guys like Curt Malawsky, Shawn Evans, and longtime NLL coach Bob McMahon, and how he was glad that Dan MacRae handed McMahon the NLL Cup as soon as he got it. He answered my question about how well Rhys Duch has fit in with the Roughnecks, he talked about his workout routine (“I’ve never lifted weights, I run, that’s about it”), and he talked about the weird situation a few weeks back where Calgary had a goal disallowed because the net had been moved; if the net had been in place, the shot wouldn’t have gone in so the goal didn’t count. He admitted that he and Dickson overreacted at the time but once they had the rule explained in detail, they understood and accepted it. We even got a cameo from his adorable little daughter just before she toddled off to bed.

Best line: With just a minute to go in a tied fourth quarter, Cayla mentioned that even though she knew the outcome, she was still excited and a little stressed watching such a close game. Rhys Duch: “Don’t worry guys. I got this.”

Thanks to the Orange Crew for setting up this call and for including me in it. It was a lot of fun even if we didn’t actually watch most of the game. Thanks also to Nick, Cayla, Dane, Zach, Tyler, Curtis, and Rhys for joining in, spending a couple of hours with us answering questions, and being the accessible and down-to-earth people that the NLL is proud to showcase.

The NLL Pronunciation Guide 2020

It’s back again! The complete list of verified (as much as possible, anyway) pronunciations for difficult-to-pronounce names in the NLL including players, coaches, executives, and media.

Thanks as always to Stephen Stamp for his help in verifying the pronunciations. Please let me know (in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter) if I got any wrong!

Names are organized alphabetically within teams.

Buffalo

Kevin Brownell – brow-NELL. brow rhymes with “cow”. Not BROWN-ull.

Doug Buchan – BUCK-in

Josh Byrne – BURN

Chris Cloutier – CLOO-chay

Chase Fraser – FRAY-zer, not FRAY-zher

Matt Gilray – GILL-ray

Jon Harnett – har-NET

Marcus Minichiello – MIN-ih-kee-EL-o

Chukwuemeka Okaeme – CHOO-kuh-o-MEE-kuh o-KAY-me

Steve Priolo – pree-O-lo

Dhane Smith – DANE

Matt Spanger – SPANG-er. Like hanger but with an SP instead

Matt Vinc – like the name “Vince”. Not VINK.

Nick Weiss – WEES

Calgary

Reece Callies – REES CAL-ees

Christian del Bianco – dell bee-AN-ko

Dane Dobbie – DOUGH-bee. Not like Dobby.

Rhys Duch – REES DUTCH

Greg Harnett – har-NET

Zach Herreweyers – HAIR-wires (not HAY-wires as many say and as I had in previous years)

Anthony Kalinich – KAL-in-itch

Ryan Martel – mar-TELL

Eli Salama – sa-LA-ma

Colorado

Scott Carnegie – CAR-nuh-gee (hard g)

Joey Cupido – koo-PEE-doe. Not KYOO-pid-o or KOO-pid-o.

Jordan Gilles – GILL-ess. Not the same as Brad Gillies on Halifax.

Dylan Kinnear – kih-NEER

Eli McLaughlin – E-lie muh-GLOCK-lin

Jacob Ruest – His mom says roo-EH where EH is pronounced like the e in “best”. Jacob says roo-AY is fine.

Georgia

Alex Crepinsek – CREP-in-seck

Ryan MacSpadyen – mick-SPADGE-en

Kevin Orleman – OR-luh-min

Mike Poulin – POO-lin

Randy Staats – STOTS. Rhymes with “slots”. Not STATS.

Leo Stouros – STIR-us. According to Leo, it “rhymes with thermos”.

Kasen Tarbell – KAY-sen. Like Jason, but with a K.

Adam Wiedemann – WEED-uh-min

Halifax

GRAY-um HOSS-ickJames Barclay – BAR-klay

Ryan Benesch – buh-NESH

Chris Boushy – BOO-shee

Pete Dubenski – doo-BEN-skee

Eric Fannell – fuh-NELL

Brad Gillies – GILL-ees. Not the same as Jordan Gilles on Colorado.

Graeme Hossack – GRAY-um HOSS-ick

Stephen Keogh – KEY-o. Not KEY-ho

Luc Magnan – LUKE MAG-nun

Clarke Petterson – PETE-er-sin

Trevor Smyth – like SMITH

Nonkon Thompson – NUN-go

Luke Van Schepen – van SHEP-en

New England

Mike Byrne – BURN

Nick Chaykowsky – chay-KOW-skee

Callum Crawford – CAL-um. Not CAY-lum.

Jordan Durston – DER-stun

Dave Emala – EM-a-la

Andrew Kew – Q

John LaFontaine – LA-fon-tane

Stephan Leblanc – STEFF-in luh-BLONK. Not steh-FAWN and not luh-BLANK.

Joe Nardella – nar-DELL-uh

Jackson Nishimura – ni-shi-MOOR-uh

Creighton Reid – CRAY-tun

Joe Resatarits – res-uh-TARE-its

New York

Gowah Abrams – GO-uh

Alex Buque – boo-KAY

Jean-Luc Chetner – ZHON-luke CHET-ner

Ryan Fournier – FOORN-yay

Dan Lomas – LOW-mus

Kieran McArdle – KEER-un muh-KAR-dl

Brooker Muir – MYOOR

Leland Powless – LEE-land

Cody Radziewicz – RAZ-a-witz

Philadelphia

Trevor Baptiste – bap-TEEST

Liam Byrnes – BURNS

Steph Charbonneau – STEFF char-buh-no. Since it’s French, the stress is sort of evenly placed throughout, or even char-buh-NO, but the Anglicized version is SHAR-buh-no.

Kevin Crowley – KROW-lee. Not like the bird. KROW rhymes with “cow”.

Isaiah Davis-Allen – eye-ZAY-uh

Anthony Joaquim – JOKE-um

Kiel Matisz – KYLE muh-TEEZ

Blaze Riorden – REER-dun

Eric Shewell – SHOO-ull

Cory Vitarelli – vit-uh-REL-ee

Daryl Waud – WOD

Rochester

Phil Caputo – ka-POO-toe

Holden Cattoni – ka-TONE-ee

Julian Garritano – gar-uh-TAN-o

Tyler Gaulton – GOLL-ton

Rylan Hartley – RY-lin. There’s an L in there. It’s not Ryan.

Dan Lintner – LINT-ner. There are two N’s in there, not LINT-er or LIT-ner.

Dan Michel – MICK-ell. Like nickel but with an M

Pat Saunders – SAWN-ders. Not SAND-ers.

Jay Thorimbert – THOR-im-burt

Craig Wende – Like the name Wendy

San Diego

Oliver Bolsterli – BOWL-stir-lee

Mike Carnegie – CAR-nuh-gee (hard g)

Brandon Clelland – CLELL-and

Nick Damude – DAY-mood

Garrett Epple – EPP-il

Mark Glicini – gli-SEE-nee

Eli Gobrecht – GO-breckt

Connor Kearnan – KEER-nan

Tor Reinholdt – RINE-holt

Mikie Schlosser – SHLOS-er

Frank Scigliano – shill-ee-ANN-o

Austin Staats – STOTS

Saskatchewan

Chris Corbeil – cor-BEEL

Matt Hossack – HOSS-ick

Mike Messenger – MESS-in-jer

Kyle Rubisch – ROO-bish

Adam Shute – SHOOT

Toronto

Scott Dominey – DOM-in-ee

Latrell Harris – la-TREL

Billy Hostrawser – HO-straw-zer

Brad Kri – KREE

Reid Reinholdt – REED RINE-holt

Challen Rogers – CHA-lin

Tom Schreiber – SHRY-ber

Alec Tulett – tuh-LET (here’s proof)

Vancouver

Keegan Bal – BALL

Nik Bilic – BEE-leech according to Nik himself. Many people say bee-LEETCH which he’s apparently OK with. Not BILL-ick or BILL-itch.

Tyler Codron – COD-run

Riley Loewen – LOW-en

Joel McCready – muh-CREED-ee

Chris O’Dougherty – O DORT-ee. Or O DOUGH-erty if you say it slowly.

James Rahe – RAY

Logan Schuss – SHUSS (rhymes with BUS). Not SHUSH, SHOOSH, or SHOOS.

Bob Snider – SNY-der. Not SHNY-der.

Warriors – WOR-ee-ers. It’s a pet peeve of mine when people say it quickly enough that it sounds like WOYERS. Three syllables, people.

Coaches & Execs

Ed Comeau – kuh-MO. Swarm head coach.

Jamie Dawick – DOW-ick. DOW rhymes with “cow”. Owner & GM of the Rock.

Clem D’Orazio – duh-RAZZ-ee-o. Black Wolves assistant coach.

Steve Govett – GUV-it. President of the San Diego Seals.

Mike Hasen – HAY-zen. Not HAN-sen. Knighthawks head coach.

Tracey Kelusky – kuh-LUSS-key. Wings assistant coach.

Darris Kilgour – DARE-iss KILL-gore. Not DARE-ee-us. Former Bandits coach/GM.

Dan Ladouceur – ladda-SIR. Assistant coach of the Swarm.

Curt Malawsky – muh-LAW-skee. Roughnecks head coach.

Nick Sakiewicz – sic-KEV-itch. NLL commish.

Kaleb Toth – KAY-leb TOE-th, not TAW-th. Former NLL player and coach. Hearing Toth’s name mispronounced on a broadcast (after a decade as a star in the league) was the inspiration for the very first pronunciation guide.

First Nations terms

Haudenosaunee – HO-dun-uh-SHO-nee. The collective name for the people belonging to the Six Nations: Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora.

Iroquois – In Canada it’s EAR-uh-kwa, in the US it’s EAR-uh-kwoy. Another name for the Haudenosaunee people.

Tewaarton – tuh-WAHR-tun. The Mohawk name for the sport of lacrosse and the name of the award given annually to the top American college lacrosse player.

Place names

Coquitlam – ko-KWIT-lum. Town in greater Vancouver, BC, home to lots of NLL players. Note that Port Coquitlam (aka Poco) is nearby but is a different town.

New Westminster – noo west-MIN-ster. Often shortened to just New West. Note that it’s not MIN-is-ter – there is only one i. Also part of the greater Vancouver area and also home to lots of NLL players.

Saskatchewan – Well, it’s complicated. I got in trouble a few years ago because I listed it as “sas-CATCH-uh-won” which is how I’ve been pronouncing it all my life, but apparently that’s wrong. The last syllable shouldn’t be “won”, and it shouldn’t really be “win” either. It should be “wən” where the ə symbol is a “schwa”, indicating an “unstressed and toneless central vowel sound”. Say it like there is no vowel there at all, like “sas-CATCH-uh-wn”. And some locals pronounce the first syllable as “sis” rather than “sas”, though I’d say the first vowel should also be a schwa. The end result is səs-CATCH-uh-wən.

Saskatoon – sas-ka-TOON. The emphasis in the word Saskatchewan is on the second syllable while in the word Saskatoon it’s on the third.

Toronto – tor-ON-toe. Or TRON-uh if you’re a Torontonian.

Other

Steve Bermel – BERM-ull. Rhymes with “thermal”. Bandits colour commentator.

Brad Challoner – CHALL-ah-ner. Brad says it’s like “challenger” without the g. Warriors broadcaster.

Melissa Dafni – DAF-nee. One of my co-hosts on Addicted to Lacrosse.

Pete Dalliday – DAL-i-day. Thunderbirds play-by-play guy.

Tyler Fitch – TY-ler FITCH. My other co-host on Addicted to Lacrosse.

Tyson Geick – GUYK. Like Geico without the o. Big Lacrosse Flash team guy.

Pat Gregoire – greg-WAHR. Thunderbirds colour guy and popular podcast guest.

Marisa Ingemi – muh-RISS-a in-JEM-ee. Boston Herald hockey reporter but used to write about lacrosse.

Devan Kaney – DEV-in KAY-nee. NLL content producer and host.

Adam Levi – LEE-vee. NLL and Lacrosse Flash contributor. Big team AND big stats guy.

Ty Merrow – MARE-o. Like bone marrow. Rhymes with Perrow, if that helps. Writer for the Georgia Swarm.

Tehoka Nanticoke: day-HO-ga NAN-ti-coke. No, he’s not an NLL player but he will be someday and if you follow lacrosse at all, you’ve likely heard his name.

Graeme Perrow – GRAY-um PAIR-o. It’s-a me!

Craig Rybczynski – rib-CHIN-skee but apparently “rib-ZIN-skee” is acceptable. Knighthawks broadcaster.

Evan Schemenauer – SHEM-en-our. Lacrosse blogger over at laxallstars.com and co-host of the Lacrosse Classified podcast.

Stephen Stamp – STEE-ven. STAMP-er is also acceptable. IL Indoor writer and editor, podcaster, name pronunciation verifier.

Game review: New England @ Toronto

Lacrosse is back! The 2019-2020 NLL season started last weekend and the Rock’s home opener was Saturday night. Dan Dawson and David Brock both made their debuts with the Rock, while Jordan Durston and rookie Andrew Kew made their Black Wolves debuts. This was a back-and-forth game for a while… until it wasn’t.

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2019-2020 NLL Rule Changes

Every season, the NLL tweaks their rule book. Some changes are significant (eg. when they changed the 10-second clock to 8 seconds a few years ago), while others are less so. This year, the rule changes have gone under the radar – I have seen precisely no mention of them anywhere. That’s probably because most of these changes are not all that impactful, quite honestly, but there are a couple that may affect play here and there. There is one, however, that might be a very big deal.

Here are the rule changes for 2019-2020 and what they mean.

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Family connections in the NLL

When I posted my Who’s In, Who’s Out article last week, loyal reader Mike suggested creating a list of all family members in the NLL as well. I thought that was a fun idea, so here you go.

I’m only listing relationships if both players are on active or practice rosters or are NLL coaches or GMs. I made a couple of exceptions for IR or holdout lists too, but if I start to get into retired players, we’d be here all day.

The majority of these I’m sure of but there are a few that I’m only mostly sure of. I tried to confirm as many as I could but if I have any wrong, or I’m missing one, please leave a comment or find me on twitter and let me know!

Buffalo

Jon Harnett – brother of Greg Harnett, Calgary
Quinn Powless – cousin of Johnny Powless, Toronto
Dhane Smith – cousin of Billy Dee Smith, (assistant coach) Halifax, also cousin of Tyson Bell, Calgary

Calgary

Tyson Bell – nephew cousin of Billy Dee Smith, (assistant coach) Halifax, also cousin of Dhane Smith, Buffalo, also cousin of Latrell Harris, Toronto
Zach Currier – brother of Josh Currier, Philly
Greg Harnett – brother of Jon Harnett, Buffalo
Jesse King / Marshal King – brothers
Update: Tyson Bell’s mom told me that there was an article a few years back saying that Billy Dee Smith was Tyson’s uncle, but that was incorrect – they are cousins. That article is where I originally got my information from. Thanks for the correction!

Colorado

Scott Carnegie – brother of Mike Carnegie, San Diego
Justin Goodwin – brother of Brandon Goodwin, Vancouver
Will Malcom – brother of Tony Malcom, New England

Georgia

Brendan Bomberry – cousin of Adam Bomberry, New England and Tyson Bomberry, New York
Jason Noble – (twin) brother of Jeremy Noble, San Diego
Kevin Orleman / Steven Orleman – brothers
Randy Staats – brother of Austin Staats, San Diego
Lyle Thompson, Miles Thompson – brothers of Jeremy Thompson, Saskatchewan. The fourth Thompson brother, Haina (aka Jerome), also played for Georgia last season.

Lyle, Miles, and Haina Thompson (photo credit: Corey Knapp)

Halifax

Graeme Hossack – brother of Matt Hossack, Saskatchewan
Cody Jamieson – nephew of Curt Styres, (GM) Halifax
Brandon Robinson – brother of Justin Robinson, Saskatchewan
Billy Dee Smith (assistant coach) – uncle cousin of Dhane Smith, Buffalo, also cousin of Tyson Bell, Calgary

New England

Adam Bomberry – cousin of Brendan Bomberry, Georgia and Tyson Bomberry, New York
Tony Malcom – brother of Will Malcom, Colorado

New York

Tyson Bomberry –  cousin of Brendan Bomberry, Georgia and Adam Bomberry, New England
Tyson Gibson – son of Darryl Gibson, (assistant coach) New England
Gale Thorpe – son of Regy Thorpe, (GM / head coach) New York

Philadelphia

Josh Currier – brother of Zach Currier, Calgary

Rochester

Paul Dawson – brother of Dan Dawson, Toronto
Shawn Evans / Turner Evans – cousins

San Diego

Mike Carnegie – brother of Scott Carnegie, Colorado
Zack Greer – brother of Bill Greer, (assistant coach) San Diego
Garrett McIntosh – brother of Ben McIntosh, Saskatchewan
Brodie Merrill – brother of Patrick Merrill, (GM / head coach) San Diego
Evan Messenger – cousin of Mike Messenger, Saskatchewan
Jeremy Noble – (twin) brother of Jason Noble, Georgia
Tor Reinholdt – brother of Reid Reinholdt, Toronto
Austin Staats – brother of Randy Staats, Georgia

Saskatchewan

Travis Cornwall / Jeff Cornwall – brothers
Ryan Dilks – brother of Jamison Dilks, Toronto
Matt Hossack – brother of Graeme Hossack, Halifax
Ryan Keenan – son of Derek Keenan, (GM / head coach) Saskatchewan
Ryan Keenan / Luke Keenan – cousins
Luke Keenan – nephew of Derek Keenan, (GM / head coach) Saskatchewan
Ben McIntosh – brother of Garrett McIntosh, San Diego
Mike Messenger – cousin of Evan Messenger, San Diego
Justin Robinson – brother of Brandon Robinson, Halifax
Brett Mydske – brother of Reid Mydske, Vancouver
Jeremy Thompson – brother of Lyle Thompson and Miles Thompson, Georgia

Toronto

Dan Dawson – brother of Paul Dawson, Rochester
Jamison Dilks – brother of Ryan Dilks, Saskatchewan
Latrell Harris – cousin of Tyson Bell, Calgary
Johnny Powless – cousin of Quinn Powless, Buffalo
Reid Reinholdt – brother of Tor Reinholdt, San Diego

Vancouver

Brandon Goodwin – brother of Justin Goodwin, Colorado
Reid Mydske – brother of Brett Mydske, Saskatchewan

2020 NLL West preview

I’ve done the North and East, so today we’ll preview the West division.

RoughnecksCalgary Roughnecks

Considering they’re the reigning NLL champs, it’s not surprising that the Roughnecks didn’t make many roster changes. Captain Dan MacRae was taken in the expansion draft by New York, Riley Loewen signed with the Warriors, and Reece Callies and Rhys Duch are both injured. That’s it. In their place are Marshal King (Jesse’s brother), Haiden Dickson (no relation to Curtis), Liam LeClair (brother of former Roughneck Kellen LeClair), and Ryan Martel (not related to anyone in the NLL so far as I know). Martel played 15 games over the last two seasons for Calgary but is still only 21, and the other three are rookies.

When you win it all one year and change very little, you’re generally among the favourites the next year. To be the best, you have to beat the best, right? No reason to believe the Roughnecks won’t be in the hunt again this season.

Look out for

It would surprise precisely nobody if Jesse King had a monster year so I’ll go out on a limb and say… Jesse King.

Prediction

First in the west.


MammothColorado Mammoth

Colorado lost a few big names in the offseason – Cory Vitarelli, Jeremy Noble, Brad Self, and Ian Llord are all gone. Noble had a terrible season, and the other three played six games each with the Mammoth, so the losses aren’t really that devastating. But other than Tyler Carlson, brought in to replace backup goalie Steve Fryer, all the new guys are really new guys – NLL newbs.

The defense and transition is much the same, which is good news since only the Bandits gave up fewer goals than the Mammoth last year. Dillon Ward is back though as I said, Tyler Carlson will be backing him up instead of Steve Fryer. Ward will still take the majority of starts but Carlson is a veteran backup so the Mammoth aren’t in trouble if Ward falters. Offense was the Mammoth’s weak point last year – only one team gave up fewer goals, but only one team (the Warriors) scored fewer as well. With all the turnover in the offense, I hope the rookies play well or this could be a long season.

Look out for

That Killen kid impressed a lot of people last year, with 49 points in 15 games. With Noble, Keogh, and Adams all gone, Killen will be asked to take on a bigger role on the right side this season. He could be really good.

Prediction

Fourth in the west.


SealsLogoSan Diego Seals

Lots of turnover in the Seals camp as well. Gone are Dan Dawson, Turner Evans, Garrett Billings, Joe Walters, Paul Dawson, Kyle Hartzell, Tyler Carlson, and Adrian Sorichetti. Austin Staats and Casey Jackson begin the season on the IR. Sounds terrible, right? It may not be so bad. Joining the Seals are Wes Berg, Jeremy Noble, Zack Greer, Mike Carnegie, and Evan Messenger, so all is not lost in SoCal. They still have Kyle Buchanan, Connor Kearnan, and Connor Fields and while Fields only played in two games last year due to injuries, he finished fourth in points and second in goals in the PLL over the summer. Could he be the next field-star-becomes-box-star à la Tom Schreiber? That may be optimistic but I think we can count on him for a lot more than the five points he contributed last year. Assuming Greer can shake off the rust after his year of retirement and Noble turns back into the real Jeremy Noble and not the guy who couldn’t score last year, the Seals may still have a pretty good offense, made even better when Jackson and Staats return.

Frank Scigliano holds down the fort in net again, though his backup is Nick Damude, who has no NLL experience. The defense and transition corps consists of a pretty good mix of vets and rookies but one of the vets is lacrosse legend Brodie Merrill, and if you’re a rookie defender, there aren’t many guys you want to learn from more than Brodie.

Last year, I said that if everything works out for the Seals, they could be a very good team. Well, everything worked out and they were a very good team. I’m not sure this year’s Seals are better than last year’s but if everything works out, they won’t be far off.

Look out for

Wes Berg will be itching to prove that he is worth the money Calgary didn’t want to pay him, so I see a big year for him.

Prediction

Third in the west.


RushSaskatchewan Rush

Good news for the Rush: Ryan Dilks and Jeff Cornwall are back! (Well, Cornwall isn’t quite but will be soon.) Bad news: they lost Nik Bilic, Brett Mydske, and Curtis Knight. Good news: they’re such a deep team that they’ll still be great. Bad news: So will Calgary.

Losing Curtis Knight will hurt the Rush, both more than you might think – because he was an important piece of their offense – and less then you might think – because they’re so deep. 2018 5th overall draft pick Connor Robinson will see more playing time, and guys like Ryan Keenan and Marty Dinsdale will get some more minutes to make up for the loss of Knight.

The Rush defense has been their strong point for years and while losing Mydske will hurt, getting Dilks back will make up for that. Jeff Cornwall will likely score more than Bilic would have but Bilic was a fan favourite known for his grit and toughness (and, yes, fights) more than his goal-scoring.

Look out for

Marty Dinsdale has been one of those “under the radar” sort of guys for years, but the weird thing is how everyone talks about the fact that nobody talks about him. Dinsdale will take over some of Curtis Knight’s role and we might see his point totals increase.

Prediction

Second in the west.


PrintVancouver Warriors

No blockbuster trades for the Warriors this off-season, but they did make a couple of significant moves. Signing Nik Bilic is huge. He brings “sandpaper” (as Teddy Jenner put it) to the team, and he’s a veteran who’s won Championships, and you can never have too many of those. And the Warriors don’t have many of those. Another vet defender who wasn’t there last year is Chris O’Dougherty, another guy who brings grit and toughness to the Vancouver back end.

The front end isn’t hugely different, with Riley Loewen taking over for Tony Malcom. Keegan Bal stepped up his game big-time last season, so he’ll be expected to continue his strong play, and Mitch Jones is also coming off of his best season. Other than those two and Malcom, only Logan Schuss and Jordan McBride had more than twenty points last year. The Warriors scored the fewest goals of any team in 2019, so some more scoring up front and in transition wouldn’t be unwelcome.

Eric Penney and Aaron Bold split time between the pipes last year, and both are back again this year. Will Penney finally take his spot as the #1 starter, a position the Warriors (and Stealth before them) seem to have been saving for him for years, or will he continue to fight Bold for that spot? The team is probably fine either way – competition between the two isn’t a bad thing, but if Penney plays well enough to grab that spot for himself, so much the better.

Look out for

Similar to Curtis Knight stepping out from behind the Rush’s top three, Riley Loewen is expected to be one of the top scorers instead of playing behind them.

Prediction

Fifth in the west.

2020 NLL East preview

Yesterday I started with the North division, today we’ll cover the East. Where I think they will end up in the standings and who might have a breakout year.

SwarmGeorgia Swarm

Take a team that finished second in the division last year, add Joel White and Jordan Hall, and give their goalie a ton of confidence with a Mann Cup, Mann Cup MVP award, and a WILC Championship over the summer and what do you get? The top team in the east, that’s what. Lyle and Miles, Randy, and Shayne already made an impressive top-four, possibly the best in the league, and adding Hall and two former transition guys in Zed Williams and Bryan Cole rounds out an amazing offense. Their D is mostly the same as last year and transition has been improved as well with the addition of White and Kason Tarbell, who impressed at the WILC’s.

Look out for

Zed Williams has flown under the radar for a while as a scoring threat but no longer.

Prediction

First in the east.


Black WolvesNew England Black Wolves

New England has added a few players to their offense that could make a significant difference. Andrew Kew was expected to be the #1 draft choice and while New York seems quite happy with Tyson Gibson, I think the Wolves are equally happy that Kew fell to third. Losing Tyler Digby’s size and strength will hurt but the additions of Jordan Durston and Tony Malcom will offset that. Durston, in particular, is good at digging out loose balls and creating space up the middle, and giving guys like Stephan Leblanc and Callum Crawford extra chances or more space is not good for opposing goalies. After an excellent 2018, Joe Resetarits picked up 34 extra points in 2018 over 2017, but dropped 33 in 2019. One of those two years was probably an anomaly, so perhaps a full season with the Black Wolves will tell us which.

Defense consists of three seasoned veterans in Manney, LaFontaine, and newcomer Creighton Reid along with a bunch of guys under 25. The goalies are young too – Doug Jamieson will be in his second season as a starter, but he’s only 24 and backup Ethan Woods is a rookie.

Look out for

Jordan Durston won’t score 100 points, but he could climb back to the 60-70 point range that he hit in 2018 with the Bandits.

Prediction

Second in the east.


Riptide-smallNew York Riptide

Last season we talked about the Seals as “not looking like an expansion team”, and they finished above .500 and hosted a playoff game. The Rochester Knighthawks, in my opinion, may not have quite that level of success but they look pretty good too. The Riptide look a little more like your typical expansion team – some vets here and there but lots of unproven players with a year or two of experience and a bunch of rookies. That’s not to say they’re definitely going to suck. Guys like McArdle and Digby know how to find the back of the net, and Tyson Gibson was selected first overall for a reason.

Ranagan, MacRae, Suitor and Manley are all solid veteran D guys, but I have concerns about Alex Buque as the starting goalie. He had that job in both Buffalo and New England and lost it in both cases. He’s obviously a year older and more experienced now so maybe this is his shot – and maybe on a team with no expectations, he’ll get consistent starts and minutes which can only help.

Like I said, I’m not saying they will definitely be bad, but there are too many question marks for me.

Look out for

Tyler Digby had a resurgence in New England last year. He has the most NLL experience of any forward and so is likely to become the de facto leader of the offense.

Prediction

Fourth in the east.


WingsPhiladelphia Wings

The Wings have made a lot of changes this year. Both goalies are out, and guys like Dylan Evans, Jordan Hall, and Vaughn Harris are also gone. But the Wings will get Brett Hickey back after missing most of last year, and have also added Cory Vitarelli and Kevin Buchanan to their offense. Along with Kevin Crowley, Blaze Riorden, and Josh Currier, that’s a pretty decent offense. Matt Rambo was a Rookie of the Year candidate last year and then was the scoring leader, league MVP, and Championship game MVP over the summer in the PLL – if he can inject some of the intensity and raw skill he showed in the PLL into the Wings, look out.

The new faces on offense will allow Kiel Matisz to stick with transition, not that having him play offense was a problem.

All three goalies from last season are gone, replaced by Zach Higgins and the un-retired Brandon Miller. I expect Higgins to get most of the minutes with Miller as backup and part-time unofficial goalie coach. Higgins was a starter for the 2015 Swarm but has been a backup ever since. The defense in front of Higgins or Miller is quite young and inexperienced with the exception of Matisz and 13-year veteran Ian Llord. When Llord played his first NLL game, Wings rookie Alex Pace was eight years old.

Look out for

Brett Hickey, I’m sure, has been itching to get back on the floor since he was injured in the third game last year. I expect him to put up some serious numbers this year.

Prediction

Third in the east.