The NLL Pronunciation Guide 2019

It’s back and better than ever! The complete list of NLL people with weird, hard-to-pronounce, and not-that-hard-to-pronounce-but-people-get-it-wrong-anyway names, and how to say them properly. I’ve basically copied last year’s list, moved players to their new teams, added some rookies and players I missed, and added an entire paragraph on the word “Saskatchewan” which I’m sure some people will tell me is still wrong. I also added a few First Nations terms commonly heard in the lacrosse world.

Thanks again this year to Stephen Stamp for confirming these pronunciations. Stamper and I both confirmed many of these with the players themselves or their families, so thanks to them as well.

Names are organized alphabetically within teams.

Buffalo

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

Josh Byrne – BURN

Jordan Durston – DER-stun

Chase Fraser – FRAY-zer, not FRAY-zher

Matt Gilray – GILL-ray

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

Thomas Hoggarth – HO-garth

Steve Priolo – pree-O-lo

Dhane Smith – DANE

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

Mark Steenhuis – STAIN-house

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

Nick Weiss – WEES

KYLE muh-TEASE (Photo: HamiltonLacrosse.com)Calgary

Chris Boushy – BOO-shee

Reece Callies – REES CAL-ees

Mike Carnegie – CAR-nuh-gee (hard g)

Christian del Bianco – dell bee-AHN-ko

Dane Dobbie – DOUGH-bee. Not like Dobby.

Rhys Duch – REES DUTCH. Frequently pronounced through sobs in Vancouver this year.

Greg Harnett – har-NET

Anthony Kalinich – KAL-in-itch. I had ka-LIN-itch last year, but that’s wrong.

Riley Loewen – LOW-en. LOW is like the word “low”, not rhyming with “cow”. Interesting aside: the original German pronunciation would be like “LER-ven” but without pronouncing the R (there’s no really good equivalent in English). Loewen is an alternate spelling of Löwen, the German word for “lions”.

Ryan Martel – mar-TELL

Eli Salama – sa-LA-ma

Colorado

Ryan Benesch – buh-NESH

Scott Carnegie – CAR-nuh-gee (hard g)

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

Julian Garritano – gar-uh-TAN-o

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

Stephen Keogh – KEY-o

Eli McLaughlin – E-lie muh-GLOCK-lin

Jacob Ruest – roo-EH where EH is pronounced like the e in “best”. Not roo-AY.

Dillon Ward – WOL

Georgia

Holden Cattoni – ka-TONE-ee

Alex Crepinsek – CREP-in-seck

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”.

Jerome Thompson – Prefers to to be called Hiana, pronounced HY-nuh

Adam Wiedemann – WEED-uh-min

New England

Alex Buque – boo-KAY. However apparently when playing in junior, he pronounced it rhyming with “spook”.

Nick Chaykowsky – chay-KOW-skee

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

Dave Emala – EM-a-la

Ryan Fournier – FOORN-yay

John LaFontaine – LA-fon-tane

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

Jackson Nishimura – ni-shi-MOOR-uh

Philadelphia

Trevor Baptiste – bap-TEEST

Doug Buchan – BUCK-in

Liam Byrnes – BURNS

Steph Charbonneau – STEFF CHAR-buh-no

Chris Cloutier – CLOO-chay

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

Davide DiRuscio – DAY-vid dih-ROOSH-ee-o

Vaughn Harris – VON

Anthony Joaquim – JOKE-um, unlike teammate Joakim Miller

Chet Koneczny – kuh-NEKTS-nee. Direct from Chet: “connects-knee”

Kiel Matisz – KYLE muh-TEASE

Joakim Miller – YOKE-um, unlike teammate Anthony Joaquim

Adam Osika – o-SEE-kuh

Blaze Riorden – REER-dun

Eric Shewell – SHOO-ull

Rochester

James Barclay – BAR-klay

Eric Fannell – fuh-NELL

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

Graeme Hossack – GRAY-um HOSS-ick

Luc Magnan – LUKE MAG-nun

Greg Puskuldjian – pus-KOOL-jee-in. Thanks Connor Wilson

Joe Resetarits – res-uh-TARE-its

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

Luke Van Schepen – van SHEP-in

Cory Vitarelli – vit-uh-REL-ee

San Diego

Brandon Clelland – CLELL-and

Garrett Epple – EPP-il. Sounds like a South African saying “apple”.

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

Connor Kearnan – KEER-nin

Tor Reinholdt – RINE-holt

Mike Schlosser – SHLOS-er

Ethan Schott – SHOT

Frank Scigliano – shill-ee-ANN-o

Adrian Sorichetti – sore-i-KET-ee

Austin Staats – STOTS

Saskatchewan

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.

Chris Corbeil – cor-BEEL

Nick Finlay – FIN-lee

Tyler Gaulton – GOLL-tun

Matt Hossack – HOSS-ick

Mike Messenger – MESS-in-jer

Brett Mydske – MID-skee

Kyle Rubisch – ROO-bish

Adam Shute – SHOOT. I love that there’s a goalie named SHOOT. Like former major league pitcher Bob Walk.

Saskatchewan – Well, it’s complicated. I got in trouble last year 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. Or just say “the Rush” or do like Brian Shanahan and say “Saskatoon”.

CHA-lin and VINCE

Toronto

Phil Caputo – ka-POO-toe

Scott Dominey – DOM-in-ee

Latrell Harris – la-TREL

Billy Hostrawser – HO-straw-zer

Brad Kri – KREE

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

Kieran McArdle – KEER-un muh-KAR-dl

Creighton Reid – CRAY-ton REED

Challen Rogers – CHA-lin

Tom Schreiber – SHRY-ber

Jay Thorimbert – THOR-im-burt

Alec Tulett – TULL-it (not TOO-lit like I had before)

Vancouver

Keegan Bal – BALL

Jean-Luc Chetner – ZHON-luke CHET-ner

Tyler Codron – COD-run

Dan Lomas – LOW-mus

Joel McCready – muh-CREED-ee

Reid Mydske – MID-skee

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

James Rahe – RAY. Not RAY-EE or RAY-HE.

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

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 – ko-MO. Swarm head coach. I’ve had this as KO-mo for years but apparently that’s wrong.

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. In the past I’ve included that kuh-LOOS-key is wrong, but apparently Tracey himself doesn’t care how you say it. 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.

Other

Steve Bermel – BERM-ull. Rhymes with “thermal”. IL Indoor writer and occasional 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.

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

Tyson Geick – GUYK. Like Geico without the o. Former NLL host. Big team guy.

Pat Gregoire – greg-WAHR. Alternate pronunciation: SMO-kin PAT. IL Indoor writer.

Marisa Ingemi – muh-RISS-a in-JEM-ee. Boston Herald hockey reporter. Did you know: she used to be a lacrosse player writer!

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. Yours truly.

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.

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I’m on hold

When recording the Addicted to Lacrosse podcast, we recently changed from using YouTube Live to a service called UberConference. It allows us to set up conference calls but we can use our computer (à la Skype) or a regular phone to join the call, and then we can download an MP3 (assuming one actually clicks the “record” button before we start…) immediately after we’re done. This is much easier than waiting for YouTube to process the video, downloading the multi-hundred megabyte video mp4 file, and then extracting the audio from it. It also has the advantage of not being a video chat, so I don’t have to worry about cleaning up my office before we record. We usually start recording around 10pm EST but if we’re starting late, I can record in my pyjamas – and I have. The downside of not having video is that you don’t see which current or classic NLL jerseys we’re wearing and we won’t get any more cameos from Tyler’s cat, though we did have Melissa’s dogs make an audio appearance in one show.

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Game report: Philadelphia @ Toronto

The brand-new Philadelphia Wings made their debut in Toronto on Friday night and holy crap, what an exciting game it was. If you weren’t there or didn’t watch it live, you’re gonna want to watch the replay right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

<whistles elevator music>

I know, right?

The game was tied at one after one quarter and the Wings took a 3-2 lead into the half. It looked like we were in for a game similar to the Calgary / San Diego game from last week, which was tied at four after three quarters and ended 9-5. The offenses came alive a bit in the second half and the final score of 11-10 was a little low-scoring but not that unusual. But how we got to that 11-10 score was a ton of fun. Would I, as a Rock fan, have used the word “fun” if the Wings had scored in OT rather than the Rock? I probably would.

You always hear that to be successful, your best players have to be your best players. It sounds redundant but it’s true and on this night, Tom Schreiber and Adam Jones were the Rock’s best players. They scored five goals each, with Schreiber scoring three game-tying goals and Jones scoring a tie-breaking goal and the OT winner. The phrase “Money Baller” comes to mind. Unfortunately for the Rock, that was all the scoring the entire team could muster other than a transition goal from Brandon Slade in the second quarter.

Eleven goals was enough to win this one but in general, having only three players score goals is not a recipe for victory. The Rock offense really struggled at times, with passes clearing their intended target by a couple of feet and shots missing the net by just as much. The score sheet said the Rock had 62 shots on goal and 22 shots off, but I’m not sure I buy it; 22 seems low. There were a lot of shots from distance and nobody wanted to get in close. But the most frustrating part was the offensive turnovers; I lost count of how many times a Wings defender knocked the ball out of a Rock player’s stick, grabbed it, and ran. They had at least three breakaway goals after such turnovers, and seven of their ten goals were from transition.

Philly’s offense was a little more balanced than the Rock’s; they had six goal scorers, with nobody scoring more than two. Brett Hickey didn’t score any but Blaze Riorden had a couple, and both times I thought it was Hickey. Chris Cloutier isn’t a huge guy (6’1″) but is solid (227 lbs) and showed why he was a top draft pick. The Wings struggled on offense as well but I thought that was a little more due to a strong Rock defense than problems with the forwards.

A lot of people are big on Frank Brown and I saw why: he was all over the floor and played some smart defense. Joakim Miller played his first game, becoming the first Finnish-born player in the NLL.

Brad Kri played another excellent game on D for the Rock, which is starting to become commonplace. Latrell Harris entered the league as an eighteen-year-old but rather than becoming the flashy transition guy I thought he would, he’s turned into quite the strong defender in his third season. You know he can score if he gets the opportunity but he’s happy to stay in his own end, without the fanfare, and quietly get the job done.

Adam Jones

Nick Rose had a good game, making a few really good stops but he also allowed a few he probably shouldn’t have, and he does tend to give up a lot of rebounds. One long shot from Kiel Matisz beat Rose and nobody was more surprised than Matisz. In general though, Rose gets himself set up very well, so he doesn’t always have to move much to make a save. I think a lot of the saves he made on Friday night were like that: they didn’t look difficult because he was in the right place. He didn’t have to make a ton of acrobatic saves, and you get fooled into thinking he wasn’t that great.

I did say that the Rock’s offense struggled, but I don’t want to take anything away from Doug Buchan’s performance. He was outstanding. Similar to Rose, he didn’t make a lot of diving or “Oh my god how did he stop that” sort of saves, but he was always in the right position, cutting down angles and making it difficult for Rock shooters. I think both the Wings and Seals will be better this year than previous expansion teams in their first seasons, and if Buchan can play like he did in this game, Philly can compete with anyone.

Other game notes:

  • Phil Caputo was a healthy scratch, just like last week. I hope Caputo doesn’t become this year’s Dan Lintner, who was scratched in what seemed like half the Rock’s games last season.
  • Damon Edwards got a holding penalty against a Wings forward who had what looked to me to be a clear breakaway. Not sure why there wasn’t a penalty shot there.
  • On another play, Steph Charbonneau got a breakaway and Challen Rogers didn’t leave the bench to stop him until a forward made it back, and by that time it was too late to prevent the goal. It was only 6-5 or so at the time so my question to you: in the third quarter of such a low-scoring game, do you send the defender out early to prevent the goal, knowing you’ll be taking a Too Many Men penalty? I might have.
  • In the fourth quarter, Rob Hellyer thought he had tied it up but the goal was waved off. Matt Sawyer threw the challenge flag (see next game note) and during the review, a number of replays were shown that clearly showed that the ball never crossed the line. There was no question that the goal shouldn’t count. Regardless, when the ref signalled “no goal” after the review, fans booed and a few yelled the typical “refs are blind”-type comments. I don’t get it. It was clearly not a goal, so why give the ref grief about making the right call?
  • I was under the impression that all goals (and close calls) were reviewed in the final two minutes of the game, and throwing the challenge flags was not only unnecessary but not allowed. This was not quite correct: all goals are reviewed in the last two minutes, but non-goal call are not unless the challenge flag is thrown. This was explained on Twitter by Rob Buchan, who is the GM of the Langley Thunder, a Bandits scout, and (I believe) father of Wings goalie Doug Buchan Update: they are not related. Thanks to Brad MacArthur for the update.

On last week’s game report, Kurt Cinney left the following comment: “spoiler alert perhaps?” It didn’t occur to me that people may not have watched the game, and the title of my article (which contained the final score) gave away the ending. I’ll now leave the score out of the title and try to be clever about the first couple of lines of the first paragraph, which get displayed on Facebook. Thanks for the suggestion Kurt!

Game report: Georgia 12 @ Toronto 11

I made my first-ever trip to Scotiabank Arena on Friday night, a building I’ve been to many times. I was hoping to see the Rock buck the trend and beat the Georgia Swarm, something they’ve only done once in nine (now ten) meetings – and never in Toronto. It almost happened, but at the last minute (literally, there was less than a minute left on the clock), Lyle Thompson decided to continue his amazing night by scoring one more. The Swarm hung on for the one-goal win in a close and entertaining game.

Thompson was unbelievable all night. He scored four beautiful goals, though his second goal was particularly impressive, a sort of jumping reverse twister sort of thing that displayed not only his incredible skill but creativity as well. He actually did better when being defended: with defenders all around him, he found ways to get open and shoot but he was stopped on a penalty shot (though I wasn’t sure whether he was stopped by Nick Rose or by the post). Holden Cattoni had a good game for the Swarm as well, but Shayne Jackson and Miles Thompson were both held off the scoreboard almost entirely, with a single assist each. Rookie defenseman Adam Wiedemann was named third star of the game, picking up his first career goal (and three assists) in his second NLL game, and making an entire section stand and cheer (see the notes section below).

Lyle Thompson

On the Rock side, Rob Hellyer was outstanding, finishing with five goals and five assists. On this night, there were two Captains America, as Tom Schreiber (the usual holder of that title) scored two and added three assists, but fellow New Yorker Kieran McArdle scored two and had four assists. Schreiber continued to impress, not only in the offensive zone but he ran back on at least one Georgia transition chance and made a great defensive play to prevent a shot on an almost-breakaway. Hellyer tried to do the same when he got caught on defense but wasn’t able to stop Jordan MacIntosh on a transition chance. Don’t worry Rob, lots of players can’t stop Jordan MacIntosh on a transition chance. Within three minutes of that goal, Hellyer had scored two more and assisted on another so we’ll call it more than even.

Brad Kri had another great game on defense and is becoming, in my mind, one of the top defenders in the league. Both goalies had their moments but I was a little concerned about Nick Rose. A number of times he’d make a save, the ball would drop down in front of him, and he’d wait a full second or two before making a move to pick it up, almost as if he didn’t see it. Once or twice I can understand but this was several times, and he was lucky that no Swarm player managed to pick it up before he did.

The game was close throughout – the Swarm had a three-goal lead for about 30 seconds in the second quarter, but no other lead was more than two. The game was tied at 2, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11. The Swarm held a two-goal lead at the half but then both defenses really cracked down. Four minutes into the third quarter, the Rock scored their first goal in almost thirteen minutes, then another seven minutes later, and then the Swarm scored their first in over fifteen minutes. In the fourth, the Rock scored three straight to take the lead with five minutes left (their first lead since halfway through the first quarter) but Lyle Thompson tied it up two minutes later, and then put the nail in the coffin with 24 seconds to go.

Other game notes:

  • In case you missed the joke in the first sentence of this article, the building formerly known as Air Canada Centre was renamed this past summer to Scotiabank Arena. I tweeted something about that name during the game and had to look at the scoreboard twice to make sure I got it right – is it Scotiabank Centre? Arena? Place? We’ll likely continue calling it the ACC for a number of years. I know people who still talk about SkyDome, which was renamed as Rogers Centre thirteen years ago.
  • Former Rock captain alerts: We spotted Jim Veltman in the crowd, and Colin Doyle was there as well. Josh Sanderson and Brodie Merrill were both in Calgary with the Seals (Josh is an assistant coach and Brodie is now the Seals captain) and I have no idea about Chris Driscoll.
  • There was a very large group of Georgia Swarm fans in attendance, many of whom seemed to be friends and family of Adam Wiedemann. His first-quarter goal brought the entire section to their feet, and I heard loud cheers for each of his assists as well. That group went nuts for Lyle Thompson’s game-winner as well, and I joked that there were more Swarm fans at the game in Toronto than at most games in Georgia. I was only mostly kidding.
  • John Ranagan was given a five minute elbowing penalty. On the replay, it looked like a solid but legal hit, and then he brought his elbow up after the hit. Of course as Evan Schemenauer pointed out, the refs have to make the call in real time and don’t get the benefit of watching the play in slow motion. I can understand why it looked like an elbow to the head, which would have deserved five. Bummer for Ranagan but hey, the refs are only human. That’s sports.

 

Presenting your 2018-2019 Boston Blazers

Here it is: a team full of players who are not on a team, i.e. not on any roster or practice squad and not on any retired, injured, holdout, PUP, or other list. I’m quite surprised at who’s on this year’s list, considering there are two more teams than last year, and thus forty-two more positions available. And even with all of those extra players, these guys are still around.

Well, it’s not quite a full team since I only have 17 players. There aren’t a lot of forwards, so this Blazers team may have some trouble scoring goals, but they have a proven goaltender in Tyler Carlson and a pretty impressive defensive core. And they’ll win a bunch of faceoffs with Jay Thorimbert. They even have two former NLL captains in Joel White and Billy Dee Smith.

In making this list, I am explicitly assuming that Kevin Crowley, Curtis Dickson, Wes Berg, Nic Bilic, Robert Church, and Mike Messenger will sign contracts. If they don’t, none of them would make this list anyway since they’d either be put on a hold-out list or be released, in which case some team will instantly pick them up.

Forwards

Mark Cockerton
Evan Messenger
Daryl Veltman
Joe Walters

Transition/Defense

Jay ThorimbertReid Acton On Buffalo’s protected list
Dan Ball
Alex Kedoh Hill
Bill O’Brien
Tyson Roe
Billy Dee Smith
Derek Suddons
Cody Teichroeb
Jay Thorimbert On Toronto’s practice roster
Joel White On Georgia’s protected list
Adam Will

Goalies

Zak Boychuk
Tyler Carlson

 

2018-19 NLL Preview: East division

Just like yesterday’s West division preview, today we’ll cover the East: where I think they will end up in the standings, who might have a breakout year, and a haiku for each team.

BanditsBuffalo Bandits

Coupla changes in Buffalo. The Alex Buque experiment didn’t work out so well last year, but I think they’ve solved that problem. Reigning Goaltender of the Year Matt Vinc was brought in from Rochester to shore up the goaltending. I don’t think Vinc was thrilled with the prospect of the team moving to Halifax next year, and Buffalo is closer to his home in St. Catharine’s, so he’s happy.

But Steve Dietrich also brought in Corey Small, Bryce Sweeting, Ethan O’Connor, and Jon Harnett. Add a couple of defensive/transition studs in Ian MacKay and Matt Gilray (two of the top four draft picks) and the changes to the Bandits roster are impressive. They had a pretty potent lineup last year but needed goaltending and defensive help. They’ve addressed those shortcomings and improved their offense, which makes them my top pick for the East.

Look out for

Shawn Evans didn’t have a great year in 2018 by his standards. 83 points certainly ain’t bad, but after five straight 100+ point seasons, it’s a bit of a drop. I think he’ll want to prove that he’s still got it.

Prediction

First in the east.

Haiku

Corey Small up front
Lots of defensive changes
Vino in the net


SwarmGeorgia Swarm

The Swarm lost Kiel Matisz, Jordan Hall, and Jesse King over the summer. So who’s going to score their goals? Well, let’s not panic just yet. They still have Lyle Thompson, Miles Thompson, Shayne Jackson, Randy Staats, and Holden Cattoni, so I think they should still be OK in the offense department. The transition lost vets Ethan O’Connor and Joel White and replaced them with rookies, so that’s a possible concern. Everyone focuses on the Swarm’s offense so their defense gets kind of ignored. They don’t have the big names like Saskatchewan but I think the Swarm D as a whole is underrated.

Look out for

Randy Staats’s points-per-game average dropped to 4.3 last year, a full point below his rookie season and a point and a half below 2017. With fewer bodies to share the ball, I see his numbers going back up from the “very good” range to the “elite” range.

Prediction

Second in the east.

Haiku

Lots of great offense
But their defense is good too
So is Mike Poulin


Black WolvesNew England Black Wolves

For a team that had Kevin Crowley (who scored 51 goals), Stephan Leblanc, Kyle Buchanan, and half a season each of Johnny Powless, Shawn Evans and Callum Crawford, it’s surprising that other than the Stealth, nobody scored fewer goals than the Black Wolves in 2018. In 2019 they’ll have a full season of Crawford and while they lost Buchanan, they’ve gained Tyler Digby who will likely be getting more floor time than he got with Calgary. That’s some pretty decent firepower up front but I’m not sure it’ll be enough. They’ll have to get increased production from a guy like Reilly O’Connor and either acquire some more offense or hope for productive rookies.

This is assuming that Kevin Crowley re-signs. If he doesn’t, they’re in a bit of trouble.

Goaltending is also a question as the Black Wolves are trying the Alex Buque experiment, Part II. As I said above, Part I in Buffalo last season wasn’t exactly a rousing success.

Look out for

Tyler Digby had a great sophomore season in Vancouver and two good seasons in Calgary before his numbers fell off a cliff last season. He’ll likely get more playing time in New England and I see his numbers climbing back into the 50s.

Prediction

Fourth in the east.

Haiku

Black Wolves big scorers
Crowley, Digby, and Crawford
They’re all freakin’ huge


WingsPhiladelphia Wings

There are a couple of question marks for the Wings. Matisz, Hall, and Hickey make a pretty good top three, I’ve only heard good things about Chris Cloutier and Matt Rambo, and guys like Vaughn Harris, Blaze Riorden, and Josh Currier give them some pretty good secondary scoring. Will it be enough? Maybe. Defense looks pretty good, with a number of proven NLL defenders like Zach Reid, Liam Byrnes, Liam Patten, and Frank Brown. No superstar defensive studs (though a lot of people are big on Brown) but a decent core. Goaltending is a question since Davide DiRuscio has shown flashes of being a solid #1 stopper but has been inconsistent, and he also missed all of last season with an injury. The only other goalie on the Wings roster is Doug Buchan, who has zero NLL minutes.

Look out for

Brett Hickey’s last four seasons were 81, 28, 79, and 40 points, which means he’s due for another 80-ish point season. I don’t know if he’ll get there, but he’ll have more than 40.

Prediction

Sixth in the east.

Haiku

Moose is the captain
Hall, Hickey, and Big Fish too
Philly has its Wings


KnighthawksRochester Knighthawks

The Knighthawks made the NLL Finals just last year and didn’t make that many changes but I’m still picking them to finish 5th in the East this year. First off, their appearance in the finals was unexpected. They were the best team in the East down the stretch and beat who they had to beat in the playoffs to get to the finals, so it’s not as if they didn’t deserve it, but I’d say very few were calling the Knighthawks to come out of the East. Secondly and more importantly, they lost Matt Vinc, one of the best NLL goalies ever and a no-doubt Hall of Famer. The Knighthawks are now pinning their hopes on Vinc’s backup Angus Goodleaf, who’s been an excellent backup to Vinc for years. But Goodleaf has only hit 200 minutes in a season once in his career; Vinc has recorded 900 minutes nine times in the last ten years (and recorded 890 in the tenth year).

The Knighthawks also lost Sid Smith to retirement injury (I heard that he retired but he’s starting the season on the IR) and lost Josh Currier and Frank Brown (who only played three games) to the Wings in the expansion draft, but that’s it. Their offense was very good last year thanks in part to rookies Austin Shanks and Eric Fannell. Can they repeat their success? Is the Joe Resetarits of 2018 the real thing or was that a fluky season? (I suspect it’s the former.) The defense and transition are anchored by Defensive Player of the Year Graeme Hossack and Rookie of the Year Jake Withers, so they should be fine but the goaltending is my concern.

Look out for

Pat Saunders is, I’m sure, happy to be back in the east. Not sure he’ll get back to the 44 goals he had in 2016 but 25-30 isn’t unlikely.

Prediction

Fifth in the east.

Haiku

No Vinc, no problem
Knighthawks have faith in Goodleaf
Lots of young kids too


RockToronto Rock

Last year, the Rock without Tom Schreiber was a very different team than the Rock with Tom Schreiber. He’s back and healthy and looked great in the scrimmage against the Mammoth, but I imagine they’ll set up their offense so that they don’t seem so uncoordinated if he’s not there or has an off night. Adam Jones also looked good in the scrimmage as did Johnny Powless. Between those guys and Rob Hellyer, Phil Caputo, Dan Craig, and Dan Lintner, I’m really looking forward to watching the Rock offense. The transition will be great as well, even without Brodie Merrill. Challen Rogers, Damon Edwards, Sheldon Burns, and Latrell Harris make up a pretty potent squad and I’m curious if Jesse Gamble will return. He took last year off for work reasons and I assumed he’d be back this year but I’ve heard nothing about him at all. As for goaltending, I have no concerns about Nick Rose but Riley Hutchcraft has played all of 15 minutes in his career.

Look out for

Dan Lintner was a healthy scratch in a number of games last season. I posted a few times that I felt bad for him and even suggested the Rock should trade him so he’d actually get to play somewhere. I don’t think he’ll be sitting as much this year and his patience will have paid off.

Prediction

Third in the east.

Haiku

Powless joins the Rock
Schreiber leads the offense, but
Challen wears the C

2018-19 NLL Preview: West division

Every year, I go through the teams and give my analysis for each one. I also pick a player who I think will have a great year, and give a prediction on where I think the team will end up. And every year, I write a haiku for each team. Why? Just because. Here’s the West, and we’ll do the East tomorrow.

RoughnecksCalgary Roughnecks

Curtis Dickson and Wes Berg haven’t signed yet but it looks like the Roughnecks are preparing for the possibility of playing without one or both of them, at least for a while. They traded for Jesse King and Dan Taylor and signed Rhys Duch the second the Warriors released him. If Dickson and Berg both return, they could have an embarrassment of riches with all of those guys plus Dane Dobbie up front. Tyler Richards is backing up Christian Del Bianco and while Richards was an excellent goalie in his prime, he didn’t play at all last year and had a GAA of about 13½ the year before. Of course, if Del Bianco has his way, Richards will play about 17 minutes this year anyway.

Look out for

Rhys Duch apparently had some injury trouble last season which is why it was a down year for him. Assuming he’s healthy (and five goals in last weekend’s scrimmage implies that he is), he’s going to be out to show the Warriors that releasing him was a bad move. I don’t see him hitting 100 points again but 80 isn’t out of the question.

Prediction

Second in the west.

Haiku

No Dickson or Berg?
Maybe but Rhys Duch will help
King and Taylor too


MammothColorado Mammoth

Very few changes for the Mammoth, but they didn’t really need big changes. They have a solid offense with a good mix of young players and vets. Their strong defense lost Bryce Sweeting and Cam Holding (who didn’t play last year anyway) but they’re getting Dan Coates back and adding John Lintz. They also have one of the best goalies in the league, and three coaches who were excellent NLL players. Williams and McBride have no NLL coaching experience but have coached at various other levels, and there’s no reason to think they won’t excel at this level as well.

Look out for

Tim Edwards dominated the face-off dot in the Mammoth’s scrimmage against the Rock. I don’t think he’ll replace Joey Cupido as the top transition guy on the team but with Jay Thorimbert out of the league (at least for now), Edwards could be the top face-off guy in the NLL.

Prediction

Third in the west.

Haiku

Captain Coates returns
Willy and McBride help coach
Benny leads the O


SealsLogoSan Diego Seals

The Seals are a first-year expansion team so they’re gonna suck, right? Maybe not. There are some big-name players here. Dawson and Merrill may be past their prime (though Merrill’s only a year removed from his most recent Transition Player of the Year award) but not far enough past that they can’t be productive, and having all the young players learning from these two is invaluable. It’s funny that when they acquired 31-year-old Kyle Buchanan, I thought he‘d be the veteran leader on the team. I had a comment here about Billings and Walters not having played much in the last two years but they can still be productive. Then the rosters were released. Walters was cut and Billings is on the “inactive roster” so, um, never mind.

Add in guys like Holding, Evans, Clelland, Reinholdt, MacIntosh, Jackson, Scigliano, and Sorichetti and you have young guys with experience, and scoring phenom Austin Staats will be amazing. As I said in my IL Indoor comment: If everything works out, the Seals could be very good but even if it doesn’t, I don’t think they’ll be that bad.

Look out for

Kyle Buchanan has bounced between 50 and 70 points per season for the last five years but I think he’ll make the jump to the next level. Not sure I see 100+ points for him but 80+ or even 90 is definitely possible.

Prediction

Fourth in the west

Haiku

Lacrosse in the sun
Brodie and Dan are leaders
Seals are surfacing


RushSaskatchewan Rush

Losing guys like Ryan Dilks and Jeff Cornwall would be devastating to some defenses, but not the Rush. They have enough great D guys that they will be able to weather the storm but just in case, they brought in Travis Cornwall. They also lost Dan Dawson to free agency and Adrian Sorichetti to the expansion draft, so this is likely the biggest single-season roster “overhaul” that we’ve seen in Saskatchewan in several years. Will the changes be enough to drop them from their standard spot of favourite in the west? Nope.

Similar to Dickson and Berg in Calgary, I’m assuming they re-sign their holdouts Church, Messenger, and Bilic.

Look out for

Travis Cornwall will be given more playing time than he got in Vancouver last year, and I think he will make the most of it.

Prediction

First in the west

Haiku

Minimal changes
No Dilks but different Cornwall
Rush are still the faves


PrintVancouver Warriors

I hate to put Vancouver at the bottom again. In previous off-seasons, I thought they should have been making big changes to their lineup but they didn’t. It seemed that they made a few changes here and there in the hopes that things would magically work this time. This season, they changed everything – the announced roster has only eight guys (out of 21) who were on the roster at the end of last season (though that doesn’t include Salt and McCready, who were on the IR). They acquired a solid #1 goalie and they’ve made significant changes to their lineup, knowing the lineup that got them to 2-16 last year wasn’t good enough, and that’s good. But they lost their top two scorers (Duch and Small) and Pat Saunders and Casey Jackson and replaced them all with Mitch Jones. Jones is a great player, but he can’t replace all four of them. They lost Chris O’Dougherty, Travis Cornwall, Cliff Smith and Andrew Suitor and replaced them with rookies. Building for the future is great and sometimes necessary. It’s short term pain for long term gain, but I think this season might be painful.

Look out for

I don’t know much about them but I’m going to go with the Porter brothers. I did see them play in the Mann Cup in Six Nations a couple of years ago and was impressed with their effort and grit. Maybe there’s a reason that nobody’s given them a chance in the NLL up to now, but now that they have that chance, I think they’ll play their hearts out to make sure people know they deserve to be there.

Prediction

Fifth in the west.

Haiku

Changes in BC
Stealth are now the Warriors
Roster is all new