Game report: Colorado 14 @ Toronto 11

Let’s see… entertaining game? Check. Home team played pretty well but lost? Check. In front of not very many fans? Check. Did I move to Vancouver without knowing it?

Awesome

  • I liked the Rock’s green St. Paddy’s Day jerseys. Not sure about the gold helmets.
  • The Mammoth offense in general was great and scored a bunch of beautiful goals. Callum Crawford in particular scored a couple of nice ones. He tried at least two “face the other way, jump, spin, and shoot while still in the air” shots, and one of them worked.
  • Early in the game, Eli McLaughlin found himself with the ball right on the edge of the crease. He faked low, waited for Rose to drop, and tossed it over him. Smart play. Then late in the second quarter, Stephen Keogh did almost the same thing, but from a little further out. He faked the underhand shot (pictured below but from a different game), causing Rose to drop again, then scored over Rose’s shoulder.
  • Later on, Keogh picked up the ball in the Rock zone and was immediately triple-teamed by Rock defenders. A few seconds later, a fourth Rock defender joined the fray, but Keogh kept the ball for at least ten seconds. He even managed to get a half-decent shot off but missed the net. It looked like he was killing a penalty but he wasn’t. Given the amount of work he put in, I almost wanted him to score. I heard other Rock fans applauding him too as he returned to the bench.

Stephen Keogh

Not awesome

  • Kieran McArdle scratched again. I thought he’s played well enough recently to stay in the lineup, so perhaps he had work commitments or something.
  • Only 8597 at this game. Only ten Rock home games ever have had lower attendance, and three of those have been this season.
  • The Mammoth defense did a great job containing Tom Schreiber. He had nothing to shoot at all night. I put this under “not awesome” because I’m a Rock fan, but if I were a Mammoth fan, I’d have put it under “awesome”.

Other game notes

  • The Rock brought out a pipe band to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, a day where we celebrate Ireland. What song do they play as the enter the arena? Scotland the Brave.
  • There’s a big gap between the Watson and Doyle banners at the ACC. Just enough room for a third that says Veltman.
  • In the fourth quarter, I tweeted the Mammoth, asking if they wouldn’t mind not scoring because the Rock were trying to tie the game. They responded by hitting the post twice on empty nets. Thanks for trying!
  • Callum Crawford is becoming one of my favourite players because he’s so dynamic. He’s a great passer but can also shoot from anywhere – inside, outside, in close, from distance, even from above the goalie when he does his signature “leap in the air and then bounce it five hole from twelve feet up” move. I’m also a big Stephen Keogh fan. And Joey Cupido. And Ilija Gajic. And Dillon Ward. And Alex Buque. And… Hold on… am I becoming a Mammoth fan?

2017 NLL Predictions

Here are my predictions for the final regular season standings as well as the major annual awards. The “Dark Horse” predictions are my “not as likely but could happen” picks.

Final Standings

East

  1. New England
  2. Buffalo
  3. Georgia
  4. Toronto
  5. Rochester

West

  1. Saskatchewan
  2. Colorado
  3. Calgary
  4. Vancouver

Individual Awards

MVP

Winner: Mark Matthews
Short list: Shawn Evans, Dhane Smith
Dark horse:  Adam Jones

Goaltender of the Year

Winner: Aaron Bold
Short list: Dillon Ward, Nick Rose
Dark horse: Frank Scigliano

Robert HopeDefensive Player of the Year

Winner: Robert Hope
Short list: Ryan Dilks, Kyle Rubisch, Graeme Hossack
Dark horse:  Mitch de Snoo

Transition Player of the Year

Winner: Karsen Leung
Short list: Alex Kedoh Hill, Chad Tutton, Chris Corbeil
Dark horse:  Challen Rogers

Rookie of the Year

Winner: Ryan Keenan
Short list: Challen Rogers, Mike Messenger
Dark horse:  Kieran McArdle

Les Bartley Award

Winner: Troy Cordingley
Short list: Derek Keenan (though you could put his name here every year)
Dark horse: Jamie Batley

GM of the Year

Winner: If the Rock are above .500 and make the playoffs, Jamie Dawick. Otherwise, Steve Dietrich
Short list: Derek Keenan (though you could put his name here every year)
Dark horse: Curt Styres or Doug Locker

This was a tough one since the Rock, Knighthawks, Swarm, and Stealth made a lot of moves but I’m not terribly confident in them. Most other teams didn’t make many at all.

2017 NLL: Who’s in, who’s out

Here’s a complete list of all the roster changes for each team.

Note that these are the changes as of the final roster from last season, so a player might be listed as “In” even if he played for that team during 2016.

BanditsBuffalo Bandits

In: Craig Point, Brad Self
Out: Chad Culp, Tyler Ferreira, Jay Thorimbert
IR: Bryce Brochu, Craig England, Adam Will
PUP:
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Tim Edwards, Justin Martin, Kevin Orleman, Blaze Riorden

The Bandits have the fewest changes of any team in the league. They went to the finals last season, so that makes sense. Added to the lineup are veterans Craig Point and Brad Self, while Culp and face-off specialist Thorimbert head to New England and Tyler Ferreira to the rival Knighthawks.


SwarmGeorgia Swarm

In: Liam Byrnes, Bryan Cole, Jordan Hall, Mike Poulin, John Ranagan, Connor Sellars, Leo Stouros, Sean Young
Out: Reid Acton, David Earl, Zack Higgins, Jesse King, Jordan MacIntosh, Drew Petkoff, Johnny Powless, Joel White
IR: Jesse King, Jordan MacIntosh, Johnny Powless
PUP:
Holdout: Laughlin Elder
Practice Roster: Brayden Hill, Warren Hill, Drew Petkoff, Adam Shute

A few big names start the season on the injured list for the Swarm. Newcomer Jordan Hall should help boost the offense and Mike Poulin gives the Swarm a solid #1 goalie, something they haven’t really had since… well, a long time ago in a state far, far away. Defender John Ranagan joins from New England and five rookies also made the team.


BlackWolvesNew England Black Wolves

In: Chad Culp, Doug Jamieson, Seth Oakes, Reilly O’Connor, Scott Self, Matt Spanger, Jay Thorimbert
Out: Dan Ball, Tye Belanger, Phil Caputo, Jordan Hall, Stephen Hoar, Mike McNamara, John Ranagan
IR: Derek Searle
PUP:
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Dan Ball, Connor Brown, Joel Coyle, Mitch McMichael

A couple of fairly significant changes for the Black Wolves. The versatile Jordan Hall is now in Georgia, while Jay Thorimbert and Chad Culp bring their veteran smarts from Buffalo. Reilly O’Connor also arrives from Calgary, and Scott Self helps to shore up an already-strong back end. Hopefully Evan Kirk has another strong year, since backing him up with be rookie Doug Jamieson instead of Tye Belanger. Then again, Evan Kirk’s rookie year was rather impressive so the fact that Jamieson is a rookie may not matter.


KnighthawksRochester Knighthawks

In: Josh Currier, Jarrett Davis, Tyler Ferreira, Kyle Jackson, Luc Magnan, Joel Matthews, Quinn Powless, Wayne Van Every
Out: Adam Bomberry, Cody Jamieson, Mike Kirk, Mike Manley, Craig Point, Derek Searle, Brad Self, Scott Self, John Sullivan, Ty Thompson, Cory Vitarelli, Joe Walters
IR: Andrew Suitor, Cory Vitarelli
PUP: Adam Bomberry, Cody Jamieson
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Luke Laszkiewicz, Dan Lomas, John Rae

Lots of changes for the Knighthawks, some of them temporary. Joe Walters is out for the year after committing to the MLL. Also out is Craig Point, who only played four games last year but amassed 18 points, good for the third highest points-per-game average on the team. Jamieson, Bomberry, and Vitarelli will hopefully be returning to the lineup before long, and the oft-injured Andrew Suitor would be a welcome addition as well but also starts the year on the IR. In the meantime, Jarrett Davis returns from out west and Quinn Powless hopes to play a full season. NLL sophomores Luc Magnan and Tyler Ferreira help to strengthen a defense that is missing both Self brothers, John Sullivan, and the retired Mike Kirk.


RockToronto Rock

In: Connor Buczek, Damon Edwards, Steve Fryer, Latrell Harris, Brett Hickey, Mikey MacDonald, Kieran McArdle, Challen Rogers, Tom Schreiber, Matt Sawyer (head coach)
Out: Kyle Aquin, Jamie Batson, Colin Boucher, Colin Doyle, Rob Hellyer, John Lovell (head coach), Luc Magnan, Rob Marshall, Brandon Miller, Kevin Ross, Josh Sanderson
IR: Rob Marshall, Patrick Merrill, Brandon Miller, Brock Sorensen
PUP: Rob Hellyer
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Jordan Magnusson, Reid Reinholdt, Brodie Tutton
Protected: Paul Rabil

Where to start?

When you lose two of the top four offensive stars of all time in the same off-season, who do you replace them with? How about Americans who have never played a box lacrosse game in their lives? Doesn’t sound like a great plan but having watched Kieran McArdle and Tom Schreiber in the pre-season, it may not be that bad. But losing Doyle and Sanderson isn’t even the biggest loss for the Rock, points-wise. Rob Hellyer scored 27 points more than Doyle and Sanderson combined in 2016, but will miss all of 2017. Brett Hickey returns from an injury that cost him the last six games of 2016, so that will certainly help, and Mikey MacDonald has looked really good in the pre-season as well.

Challen Rogers will join the returning Damon Edwards, Brodie Merrill, and Jesse Gamble to form one of the best transition units in the league. Another question is in net where Steve Fryer, with all of 60 minutes in his NLL career, replaces Brandon Miller who’s recovering from hip surgery.

Oh, and the Rock are the only team to make a coaching change this season. Seems like there isn’t much about the Rock that didn’t change.


RoughnecksCalgary Roughnecks

In: Holden Cattoni, Chad Cummings, Christian Del Bianco, Riley Loewen
Out: Garrett McIntosh, Pete McFetridge, Riley O’Connor, Mike Poulin
IR:
PUP: Vaughn Harris
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Garrett McIntosh, Keegan Rittinger, Bob Snider

Just a couple of changes for the Roughnecks. Riley Loewen joins from the Rush replacing Riley O’Connor, who was traded due to league rules that prohibit two Rileys on the same team. Peter McFetridge is now in Vancouver and veteran goalie Mike Poulin signed with the Swarm. Frank Scigliano and second-year-player-but-still-a-teenager Christian Del Bianco will likely split the goaltending duties.


MammothColorado Mammoth

In: Greg Downing, Zack Greer, Jacob Ruest, Taylor Stuart
Out: Jackson Decker, Adam Jones, Mike Mallory, Mike Woods
IR:
PUP: 
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Brent Adams, Zach Herreweyers, Mike Mallory, Nick Ossello

One big change for the Mammoth: Adam Jones was sent to the Rush for constant scoring threat Zack Greer. Losing Jones hurts but who has Greer score the most points against in his career? The Mammoth. They’ll be glad to have him on their side for a change.


RushSaskatchewan Rush

In: Matthew Dinsdale, Adam Jones, Ryan Keenan, Mike Messenger
Out: Jarett Davis, Zack Greer, John Lintz, Riley Loewen
IR:
PUP: 
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Matt Hossack, Matt MacGrottty

The best get better? Possibly. Adam Jones scored two fewer points than Zack Greer last season, but played two fewer games because of work commitments. Hopefully playing in Canada will eliminate those missed games. Ryan Keenan was the first overall draft pick for a reason, and it sounds like the Rush players are very excited about his presence. Highly-touted rookie Mike Messenger replaces John Lintz in the Rush defense.


StealthVancouver Stealth

In: Keegan Bal, Tye Belanger, Brendan Fowler, John Lintz, Pete McFetridge, Tommy McKee, Ryan Wagner
Out: Garrett Billings, Mitch McMichael, Jeff Moleski, Eric Penney, Cliff Smith, Rory Smith, Jarrett Toll
IR: Garrett Billings, Cory Conway, James Rahe, Jarrett Toll
PUP:
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Brandon Clelland, Justin Goodwin, Evan Messenger, Eric Penney

Having Billings and Conway on the IR to start the year won’t help, but from Teddy Jenner’s interview with Conway a week or two ago, it sounded like his debut in the Stealth lineup wouldn’t be delayed for long. McMichael was traded east, Moleski retired, and Cliff Smith will miss at least part of the season due to work commitments as he attempts to start a career in law enforcement. The revolving door of Stealth goaltenders continues as Tye Belanger gets the nod as Tyler Richards’s backup.

Grabbing a solid veteran defender from a division rival isn’t easy but Doug Locker did it twice this off-season. John Lintz and Pete McFetridge will make a big difference in the Stealth back end.

Game report: Colorado 9 @ Toronto 15 (pre-season)

The NLL is back! Actually, I’m a week late with that since almost every team played at least one pre-season game last weekend, but this is the first one I was able to see. Saturday night’s tilt at the TRAC involved the Mammoth taking on the Rock, and it was interesting to see a couple of different coaching decisions on who plays.

For the Rock, pretty much everyone in the lineup played the whole game. There were a couple of people who I think only played the second half, like Kyle Aquin and Brodie Tutton, and one or two who I didn’t see at all, like Reid Reinholdt and Damon Edwards (who I was looking forward to seeing again), but I think most who played at all played the whole thing. Starting goaltender Nick Rose played the first three quarters while Steve Fryer played the fourth. Brandon Miller wasn’t even listed on the roster. There were a couple of major Rock retirement announcements this summer, but I don’t think I missed any…

The Mammoth had a slightly different approach, as Zack Greer, Ilija Gajic, and Callum Crawford didn’t play at all (though I saw Crawford at the rink), and John Grant only played the first half. Starting goaltender Dillon Ward was also in the building but didn’t play at all; Zak Boychuk and Alexis Buque split the goaltending duties.

It was an entertaining game – back and forth in the first half and then the Rock pulled away and the Mammoth never really got back into it. But as we all know, it’s the preseason so coaches care less about whether they win or lose the game and more about what they see from their players. The game was intense enough to look like a regular season game. There were no fights and few penalties, but the players were playing hard.

Challen RogersSorry Mammoth fans, but I did pay a little more attention to the Rock, as I tend to do. Toronto’s offense looked good, even without Josh, Colin, and Rob Hellyer. It was great to Brett Hickey back in form, and Kasey Beirnes continues to be one of the hardest-working forwards in the game. Stephen Leblanc played, but I didn’t really notice him all that much. That may be unfair though, since I was mainly concentrating on the new guys, Mikey MacDonald, Tom Schreiber and Kieran McArdle. MacDonald had a cup of coffee with the Black Wolves last year, only picking up one assist in two games, but has had a great preseason with the Rock. Not sure he’ll be another Brett Hickey, scoring 50 goals out of nowhere, but should be a welcome addition to the front end.

Schreiber looked good, a big bull-in-a-china-shop kind of guy. He wasn’t worried about going around defenders or finding an open lane, he’d just push through and make an open lane for himself. He was working hard but that said, he couldn’t hit the net. He must have had 10-12 shots but most missed the net entirely and I don’t think he scored any.

I was really impressed with McArdle. He scored a couple, at least two on passes from Schreiber, but had a mittful of assists as well. He really looked comfortable in the offensive end and made some really dynamic plays, impressive for someone so new to the box game. (Not that field lacrosse players don’t make dynamic plays, but they’re different.) At one point in the second, he took a shot which missed the net, grabbed the rebound and shot again, and then grabbed that rebound and shot again. Three shots in about five seconds.

Another new face I was watching was draft pick Challen Rogers. Rogers is a big, solid defender but also has some speed up the floor on transition. I liked what I saw from Rogers, which was a lot since he was everywhere and seemed to get a lot of floor time. With Rogers, Gamble, Edwards, and Brodie Merrill (who, at 35, still has some serious speed), Toronto’s transition could match up against anybody’s.

For the Mammoth, I did notice Greg Downing a lot, and Jeremy Noble played a lot as well. Noble made an outstanding interception of a Nick Rose outlet pass, jumping and stretching his 5’9″ frame as far as it would go. Don’t remember if it led to a goal, but was a great play nonetheless. John Grant only played the first half, but scored three including a patented over-the shoulder shot. There are times every now and again when Grant seems to be able to simply score at will, or almost force plays to happen the way he wants them to. There was a 3-4 minute span in the second quarter where he seemed in total control. He’s the oldest player in the league, three years older than the next oldest and ten years older than his next oldest teammate, but after all this time, he’s still John Grant.

Other notes:

  • At one point Challen Rogers was defending John Grant, and Grant spun away from him and scored. Rogers looked frustrated for losing him but as I tweeted to him at the time, don’t worry about it. He beats everybody.
  • Jordan Magnusson seemed to get a lot of floor time, and I thought he played hard and looked pretty good. Latrell Harris made some good plays but at other times looked lost, as if he wasn’t sure who to defend or what to do.
  • Dan Lintner’s second goal was a beautiful reverse backhand sort of thing. Lintner also looked good though now that I think about it, I don’t remember seeing him in the second half.
  • Nick Rose must have been working on outlet passes in the offseason. He’s really becoming a master. He’s no Bob Watson yet, but was pretty accurate on passes to teammates up near centre.
  • You know how you see players chewing on their mouth guards while on the bench or between plays? Rogers was chewing on his during play. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the thing in the first place?
  • Alexis Buque played really well in the second half, making a few outstanding saves. He didn’t look like someone trying to make the team as a backup goalie, he looked like he wanted that starter’s job.

Liveblog: Calgary @ Colorado

I tried a “liveblog” last weekend and it was kinda fun, so I’ll try it again. I guess it’s similar to twitter in that I basically enter my thoughts as I have them, but this gets recorded all together.

This will be a little different though since I can’t actually watch the game. I’m at my parents’ cottage for the weekend and not only do they not get TSN2, their internet connection is maxed out for the month so I can’t watch the game online without serious overage charges. I set my phone up as a hotspot so I can get internet but I’m almost over on my phone’s data plan as well so I can’t stream the game that way either.

So I’m “watching” the game through twitter and Pointstreak. This might make the liveblog a little different since there are sometimes long pauses between updates. I also didn’t start until halftime so this will only be the second half.

Halftime

  • The Georgia / New England game yesterday (which I also didn’t see) was close throughout and ended in OT. Could we see another OT game tonight? That would be pretty awesome, at least for those watching it. And not bad for those of us who write weekly Money Ballers columns.
  • Raptors won tonight! Up 2 games to 1 over the Heat. I will freely admit that I’m on the Raptors bandwagon now that they’re in the playoffs. I’ve watched more Raptors games on TV (and listened on the radio) more times in their 10 playoff games this years than in the entire regular season.
  • Game on yet? Nope.
  • The PVR is on but the TV is off. I think my mom is recording something.
  • Looks like the game is starting again.

 

Third Quarter

  • Cam Holding got a holding penalty. I made a joke about this on @NLLFactOfTheDay a couple of years ago.
  • Shorthanded goal for Calgary! Curtis Dickson. I should do an article about the players in the league who are the most fun to watch. He’s near the top of that list. Tyler Richards would likely be there too. Not only is he a great goaltender who makes some outstanding acrobatic saves, but when he gets ticked off he’s very entertaining.
  • I need a snack. There are some peanuts in the kitchen, maybe I’ll have those.
  • It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow. Must remember to pick up a hanging basket for my wife on the way home tomorrow. I always get her a fuchsia for Mother’s Day.
  • Seems to have been a long time since the last update.
  • The Roughnecks just tweeted that they are on a power play. I refreshed the Pointstreak page to find that the Roughnecks took three penalties at the same time a couple of minutes later and avoided giving up a penalty shot because the Mammoth took one too.
  • Adam Jones scored on the PP. Tie game again!
  • And then Dickson scores again. Roughnecks lead
  • Is that a bug on the wall over there? Oh no, it’s a screw where a picture used to hang. Maybe we’ll get my folks another picture to hang there for their anniversary in July.
  • End of the third, 7-6 for the Roughnecks. Low scoring close game. Probably amazing to watch, but following along on Twitter is fine. Just fine.

fine

Fourth Quarter

  • I love the banter we’ve seen recently between the team accounts on Twitter. Even the Knighthawks got into it despite the fact that they’re out of the playoffs.
  • Jeremy Noble scores for the Mammoth, and we’re tied again.
  • Jones again and the Mammoth have the lead!
  • Haven’t heard John Grant’s name much. Checked Pointstreak – he has TWELVE shots and no goals. Noble has four goals on only seven shots.
  • Dickson again for Calgary. He’s the only Roughneck who’s scored in this half. Tied again.
  • My four-year-old niece has finally stopped calling me “Aunty Graeme”. It was cute for a while but kinda got old. My sister thought it was pretty darn funny though.
  • Digby scores for Calgary but it’s being challenged. Andrew McBride tweeted that it’s inconclusive and the call on the floor stands but I don’t know if that’s his opinion or the actual call.
  • Good goal. Then Cupido scores right away and it’s tied at 9.
  • Before I finished typing that, Jones scored again to give Colorado the lead.
  • No updates for a while. Those peanuts were pretty good. Might have a few more. #protein
  • Oh wait, hashtags aren’t used in a blog.
  • McBride just tweeted that it’s “Been a well refereed game so far!” I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen anyone talk positively about refs during a game.
  • I think it’s raining again.
  • Only a handful of minutes left. No updates. <whistles>
  • <more whistling>
  • Under a minute left now… Calgary needs a last minute goal. If only they had a clutch goal scorer on their team.
  • Guess who. Dickson scores with 25 seconds left to tie it up. I swear I wrote that bit about “if only they had a clutch goal scorer” before the goal was scored.
  • This is fine. <sigh>

 

Overtime

  • OT goal-scorer predictions: Gotta go with Rosey and say Jones for Colorado and Dickson for Calgary. Though part of me thinks John Grant will step up and finish it like we’ve seen so many times before…
  • John Grant has twice as many OT goals (9) since 2005 as anyone else (Duch, Evans, Tavares, Pollock have 4 each).
  • F5 F5 F5 <more whistling> F5 F5 F5
  • So if I’m reading this correctly, the Roughnecks won.
  • Dane Dobbie with the winner and the Roughnecks are off to face the Rush. The Mammoth are now 1-8 all-time against the Roughnecks in the playoffs, but 0-7 in their last 7 meetings. The Roughnecks have knocked the Mammoth out of the playoffs in each of the last four years.

So that’s it for the first round. I didn’t get to see either game, but on the upside, I’m 2-0 in my picks so far. I also found that the new NLLTV.com thing does seem to let you watch games on replay, so maybe when I get home tomorrow I’ll watch the 4th quarter and OT of both games. Sure I’ll know the outcome but from the sounds of things, it’ll be pretty exciting anyway.

Liveblog: Vancouver @ Colorado

I was out at my kids’ soccer games (my older son’s team won the consolation final while my younger son’s team won the Championship, though on penalty kicks. A sucky way to decide a championship in any sport) so I couldn’t watch the Vancouver @ Colorado game live. I did set the DVR to record it, so I started the game once I got home. I like to watch the game while chatting about it with other fans on Twitter, but that obviously wasn’t an option in this case, so I decided to do a “liveblog” just for fun.

First quarter

  • No Adam Jones for the Mammoth
  • Only a minute in and the Mammoth have already had a 30 second possession with no shots. Solid Stealth D
  • 10:55 – Ward has been solid so far, making a few saves. Richards hasn’t really had to make any yet
  • 8:36 – How many times have the Mammoth missed the net or missed passes so far? Looks like the first game of the season
  • 7:28 – Goal by Duch. Very nice pick by Billings to clear the lane. 1-0 Stealth
  • 6:30 – Beautiful goal by Mallory, top corner. Tied 1-1
  • There are taller players out there, but Callum Crawford just looks huge, like he’s towering over everyone
  • Duch had a wide-open lane but opted to pass, and almost threw it away. Ended up getting a shot off but nice save by Ward
  • Goal by Schuss, another laser into the top corner. 2-1 Stealth
  • 1:03 – Grant with a behind the back pass that was picked off by a Stealth defender. Grant loves him some behind the back action, doesn’t he? When it works (which, I admit, is most of the time) it’s a smart play but when it doesn’t, it looks showboaty.
  • Mammoth got away with it and regained possession
  • When under a minute is left, the game clock on the broadcast has “.0” at the end of it but never shows tenths of seconds. So why have the “.0”?
  • Noble scores to tie it up with a second left. Once again, top corner.
  • Wow, I’m bigger than Jeremy Noble. He’s 5’9″ 170 pounds, I’m 5’10” 180 pounds. Of course his 170 is very likely distributed a little differently than my 180…

Game is tied 2-2 after one quarter. This is a must-win game for the Stealth but they are not looking panicked at all. They seem confident and are playing with purpose. The Mammoth haven’t looked bad either but a little more sloppy than the Stealth. One wonders if the Mammoth didn’t think “Ah, it’s just the Stealth” coming into this one.

Second quarter

  • Nasty goal by Duch. Off the boards, hit Ward’s leg and deflected into the net. Just like in practice. 3-2 Stealth
  • 13:21 – Delay of game penalty against McCready. Don’t agree with that one. If a change of possession is signaled by the ref, you can’t drop the ball and then check the guy who picks it up, but that’s not what happened here. The change of possession was because of a shot on net and rebound, so the check should be totally legal IMHO.
  • Nice defense by the Stealth on the PK, keeping the Mammoth from getting any decent shots off
  • Man, these All Star RV bigfoot commercials are terrible.
  • Goal by Small. Standing on the doorstep and picked up a lucky bounce. 4-2 Stealth
  • Beautiful passing play resulting in a goal by Grant. Honestly, the passing was nicer than the goal itself but congrats to Grant for becoming the all-time Mammoth goal-scoring leader
  • Duch scores again – hit Dillon Ward who saved most of it but it still trickled across the line. 5-3 Stealth
  • Tyler Richards makes a dumb play, coming out of his crease and Dan Coates capitalizes. Not sure it should count because it looked like he batted it in rather than shooting it. I may be misremembering the rule though – I know you can’t reach into the crease and “poke” the ball into the net, but perhaps it’s OK out of the crease. 5-4 Stealth
  • Nobody mentioning this rule and no challenge flag, so I must have gotten the rule wrong.
  • Another behind the back pass, this time by Billings, that backfires.
  • Goal… or not. The shot clock expired before the ball went in. Surprisingly, no challenge
  • Loving the analysis from Shewchuk and Gallant. Obviously these guys know the game very well, and lots of other announcers do too, but hearing these guys discuss the pros and cons of the diamond vs. box defense on the PK was great.
  • Grant tries another behind the back pass and this time drops it
  • Rory Smith’s stick has a very cool black shaft.
  • 1:57 – Noble ties it up with – guess what? – a top corner shot. Tied at 5
  • Beautiful pass from Crawford who looked like he was going to shoot. Instead he passed it over to McLaughlin who had an open cage. That’s why Crawford is leading the league in assists. 6-5 Mammoth
  • Shewchuk nailed it – in a do-or-die game, you can’t be taking too many men or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
  • Is there a harder-working offensive guy than Joel McCready? Well, Shawn Evans is up there in that category too.

I’d be surprised if any thoughts of underestimating the Stealth remain on the Mammoth bench. The Mammoth have a 6-5 lead but this is anybody’s game.

Third quarter

  • Remember when Tyler Richards announced his return to the NLL and the Stealth said that Eric Penney was still their number one goalie? I wonder if anyone believed them
  • Stealth with a sloppy play giving the Mammoth the ball again, and they almost drop it themselves
  • Some more sloppy defense by Vancouver, giving Colorado a one-on-one chance. Richards bailed them out
  • Corey Small with a goal that, amazingly, did not go top shelf. Tied at 6. MOAR MONEY BALLER GOALS PLZ
  • Nice transition play by Ilija Gajic. That was at least the third pass interception by the Mammoth tonight and Gajic took off down the floor. Didn’t even have to run all that fast. 7-6 Mammoth
  • A couple of names I haven’t heard much in this game: Cupido & Billings
  • Of course, just after I typed that, Billings took a shot at one end and then Cupido took one at the other end
  • Excellent save by Dillon Ward with McCready right on the edge of the crease
  • Rhys Duch takes a huge hit, which knocks him to the floor but he keeps the ball, gets up, and puts the ball in the net though he went through the crease. Great play
  • Challenge flag is out. Looked to me like Duch stepped on the line before shooting. I’m not even sure that the ball went in the net at all
  • OK, the ball did go in but he stepped on the line. Here’s the call – no goal
  • Beers gets hurt, rolls around on the floor in pain for a while. Trainer tries to help him off, looks like Beers tries to wave him off then realizes his knee/ankle/something hurts more than he thought
  • News flash: Rhys Duch is a good player. Sweet goal to tie it up again
  • That was weird – Small picked up a rebound and all the Mammoth defenders seem to run away. Luckily for them he didn’t score but he was given a great opportunity
  • Nice spin-o-rama by Cupido, but great save by Richards
  • Corey Small with another one on a great pass by Billings. GB looked like he was going to fire it at the net but passed instead
  • Vancouver has 8 goals, Duch has 8 points (4+4)

Vancouver leads 8-7 but I’ll fearlessly predict this game will be tied at least once more.

Fourth quarter

  • Duch with another pretty one to give the Stealth a two-goal lead
  • Grant tries the Dane Dobbie style goal, coming off the bench straight to the net, doesn’t work
  • That one worked. Nice bounce shot from Grant through a defender gets by Richards. 9-8 Stealth
  • Now a pass interception for the Stealth. Doesn’t lead to a transition chance but they get a possession. No shots though
  • Almost the same shot again, Grant ties it up at 9. My fearless prediction came true.
  • What an effort from Callum Crawford. Fights off a bunch of Stealth defenders, picks up the ball, shovels it back to Gilles who’s wide open. Mammoth have the lead again, 10-9
  • McLaughlin scores, Crawford ties the single-season assist record. Mammoth lead 11-9
  • Hopefully the Stealth can kill this penalty off soon and then they might be able to get possession again. Oh wait, they’re not on the PK.
  • I’ve talked in the past (both on this blog and on the Addicted to Lacrosse show) about some dumb trades the Swarm franchise has made over the years. I think letting Crawford walk as a free agent tops them all.
  • Ward has been great in this game. Richards has been pretty good too, though with one or two shots that snuck by him.
  • It ain’t over yet… Corey Small gets the Stealth back to within one with 90 seconds left
  • Ward makes a save, then gets in the way of a Stealth player and gets knocked over… while standing in his crease. No call. Dangerous play by the Stealth given that there’s less than 30 seconds left in their playoff hopes but they got away with it

And that will do it. The Mammoth regular season is over and the Stealth are out of the playoffs. After winning twice in the past two weeks when they really needed to, they just couldn’t get it done tonight. A few defensive breakdowns here and there but I thought they put forth a solid effort. Rhys Duch came to play, and picked up 9 points in an outstanding game.

The Stealth have had a pretty lousy season but the last few games should give them hope for next year. Once they can get all the pieces together and stay healthy, they could do some damage.

Could happen…

As I like to do at about this time every year, I’m going to look at the playoff picture and see what the possibilities are. Can a last-place team finish first? Can a first-place team miss the playoffs? Sometimes the possibilities are surprising.

Some options are no longer possibilities. Saskatchewan and Colorado have not only clinched playoff berths, they’ve clinched home playoff games, which means the final playoff spot in the West is between Calgary and Vancouver and neither can finish higher than third, so not much room for surprising finishes there. Neither Georgia nor Toronto can finish first in the East.

Let’s see what could happen. UPDATED after games of April 10.

Georgia finishes second in the East

If Georgia wins out, NE loses out, and Rochester beats Buffalo and Saskatchewan, all three teams are 9-9. The first three-way tiebreaker is the combined record against each other. In this case, Georgia would be 4-3 against NE and Rochester, New England would be 4-4, and Rochester would be 3-4, so Rochester finishes third (of the three, so fourth in the division). Then we drop to the two-team tiebreaker. Georgia and New England would be 2-2 against each other, so we go to Eastern division opponents. Georgia would be 7-5 while New England would be 7-6 so Georgia gets second.

Toronto finishes second in the East

The Bandits will have at most 8 losses, and New England will have at most 9. Toronto already has 10, so they can’t finish better than third.

Buffalo misses the playoffs

Buffalo is in the playoffs

Buffalo can finish with no more than 8 losses. Georgia already has 9 and Toronto has 10 so the Bandits can finish no lower than third.

Rochester misses the playoffs

If Rochester loses three of their four remaining games, Toronto wins their remaining four, and Georgia wins four of their remaining five, Rochester is out.

New England misses the playoffs

 

No announcement has been made by the league or the team that New England has clinched, but I can’t find any scenarios where New England finishes any lower than third. Toronto already has more losses than New England can have, so Toronto will finish lower than the Wolves. There are no ways Georgia can have fewer losses than New England, so either NE is ahead of Georgia and Toronto (so they’re in), or they end up tied with Georgia. But in that case, Rochester is either also tied with them (so they’re out, given the three-way tie-breaker I mentioned above) or has a worse record. In the second case, NE is ahead of both Rochester and Toronto so they’re in.

Unless I’m misunderstanding the three-way tie-breaker, New England has clinched a playoff spot.

Update: Nailed it.

Vancouver finishes third in the West

It’s still possible for Calgary and Vancouver to end up tied at 7-11. The season series would also be tied at 2-2, so then the tiebreaker falls to record against divisional opponents. Vancouver would be 6-5 against western rivals while Calgary would be 3-8 so Vancouver gets in.