2023 NLL Week 20

The playoff picture in the West is almost set – we know the four teams who will be in the post-season. In are the Seals, Roughnecks, PCLC, and Mammoth. The top two will be the Seals and Roughnecks but we don’t know the order, and third and fourth will be PCLC and the Mammoth, but we don’t know the order.

The East is less set. Similar to the West, we know the top two will be the Rock and Bandits, and next week’s matchup in Banditland will decide the order. But the other two spots are up for grabs. It could be Halifax/Rochester, or Rochester/Halifax, or Rochester/Georgia, or Georgia/Halifax, or Georgia/Philadelphia, or Halifax/Philadelphia, or possibly others. We could have all four of those teams tied at 9-9, which case I believe we’d have Halifax 3rd and Philadelphia 4th.

There are only 13 games left in the 2023 regular season, but still lots to be decided.

Continue reading


2023 NLL Week 18

I was away on a short vacation last weekend so I saw none of the games. I frequently comment on awesome or not awesome events that happened in games I didn’t watch, but for some reason I felt more uninformed this time so there was no Week 17 report. Apologies to those who depend on that every week. On the upside (?), this week’s article is twice as long as usual.


Karaline and #GoalsForAvery

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about Swarm goalie Craig Wende and the heartbreaking story of how his daughter Avery was born several months premature and passed away just a week later. You’ve probably also heard about Karaline, the young Georgia Swarm fan who made this video pledging her support in Avery’s name. Karaline plays lacrosse and has pledged to donate $5 in Avery’s name for every point she scores this season to a local children’s hospital. This went viral among the NLL community, and I pledged to match her donation with a donation of my own to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The Swarm is asking for matching donations to local childrens’ hospitals so that this initiative can reach and help as many people as possible all across North America. I salute Karaline for taking this step and encouraging others to do the same.

There’s no way to track the number of people who will donate so we may never know how much money this will raise or how many families it will help. There are very few better causes to support than sick children and their families, so if you’re able, I encourage you to get involved (more information is here on the Swarm web site). Whether it’s donating based on Karaline’s points, or based on someone else’s stats (your own, your child’s, your favourite NLL player’s), or a one-time donation to your local kids hospital, every dollar helps.


Celebrating Heritage

A couple of teams have had an Indigenous Heritage night (Toronto, Albany) recently. Saskatchewan has a ceremony before each game, Rochester used to have Smoke Dancers before each game (not sure if they still do), and Halifax’s entire team name and identity is representative of indigenous culture and the history of the game. I’m sure there are other teams that I haven’t listed here that celebrate indigenous culture as well. But given the origins of this sport, I think this needs to be a thing that every NLL team does.

This past weekend, San Diego did a Latin Heritage Night. This is likely the first Latin Heritage night in NLL history, but considering how close San Diego is to Mexico (you could throw a lacrosse ball from downtown San Diego and hit Mexico. Well, Brodie Merrill could, anyway), it makes sense and I think it’s awesome that the team is celebrating that part of the city’s heritage.

Georgia Swarm

Tweet about the Swarm turnaround

It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Georgia Swarm. Given their 0-7 start, you might think (a) the Swarm have no chance of making the playoffs and (b) even if they do, they’ll be easy to beat. You’d be wrong on both counts. Make no mistake, it’s an uphill battle for the Swarm to get back in the playoff hunt, and they can’t just win out, they have to hope for other game results to fall the right way. But they could still finish above .500 and ahead of the Thunderbirds and Wings. And given how they’ve played over the last seven games, their seven-game losing streak seems like a very long time ago.

You could argue that none of the teams they’ve beaten this season currently have a record above .500, and that’s a reasonable point. But they kept Jeff Teat to 7 points in one game and only two in another, and on Sunday they kept the second-highest scoring team in the league to seven goals. I wouldn’t (currently) put them on the same tier as the Rock or Bandits, but if they make the playoffs with the momentum they have now, they have as good a shot as anyone.

Also awesome, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, are the crowds in Georgia. Friday night had over 9700 people at the Swarm game, the highest this season, fifth highest in team history, and only 150 short of the highest attendance since the Swarm moved south.

Toronto Rock

I don’t think anyone saw that coming. A battle between the 11-3 Bandits and the 11-4 Rock was supposed to be physical (yup), competitive (not really), and close (nope). The Rock took a lead less than a minute in, then scored two shorthanded goals on the same penalty in the next two minutes, and I’m sure many Rock fans like myself thought “OK good start, but it’s Matt Vinc and the Bandits, so let’s not get too overconfident here. They can easily come back”. I kept that feeling for a lot of the game, actually, knowing what Dhane Smith and Josh Byrne and that group can do. By the middle of the third quarter, the Rock had an eight-goal lead and I began to relax. Whether they were facing the greatest goaltender in NLL history or a rookie (technically not a rookie but effectively) with three minutes of NLL playing time in his career before this game, the Rock didn’t care, they could almost score at will. The Bandits offense just couldn’t get anything going at all. When their passing plays weren’t being either broken up or prevented entirely by the outstanding Rock defense, Nick Rose was there to shut the door. A lot of Bandits shots missed the net entirely, which I attributed to the shooters trying to pick corners while (a) shooting through screens or around defenders or from bad angles and (b) getting more and more frustrated as the game went on. The Rock let their foot off the pedal a little bit in the fourth quarter, but not enough to let the Bandits back into the game. They ripped first place in the East away from the Bandits in convincing fashion.

Also awesome: attendance of 13,127. Not only the highest attendance since the move to Hamilton (by over 2,000), but the highest at any Rock home game since they beat the Edmonton Rush on April 7, 2012. Almost eleven years.

Buffalo Bandits

Yes, I’m listing a team that lost by 11 goals in the “awesome” column, and I’ll tell you why. Given their offense, the Bandits were expected to be one of the top-scoring teams in the league. With only a few games left, they are 6th in the league. Not bad, but not where we thought they’d be. Of course, injuries haven’t helped that – Nanticoke has missed four games and is still out, McCulley and Byrne each missed three, and Cloutier missed nine. I think it was more of a contract issue but Chase Fraser has only played in one game this year. So given all of those missed games, maybe 6th place is actually pretty good. But even with all of those missed games, they are still in second place in the east with an impressive 11-4 record.

One of the hallmarks of most Championship teams is “finding ways to win”, and the Bandits have done that. They scored 18 goals in consecutive games early in the season, and won a few others scoring 16 and 13 goals. But since the beginning of March, they have not scored more than 10 goals in any game, yet they are 3-2 in those games. They only scored 7 in one game and won it. When their offense is clicking, they can outscore anyone. But even when it’s not, their transition can step up and score a bunch (Ian MacKay = monster) and a big mean defense in front of Matt freaking Vinc means opposing scorers have their work cut out for them.

Yes, they had a lousy game on Saturday but it happens to every team now and then. Do you expect the same result when they face the Rock again in three weeks? I certainly don’t. The Bandits are still a team that nobody wants to face in the playoffs.

Not Awesome

Penalty shots

Don’t get me wrong, penalty shots are awesome. The not awesome part is this sentence from NLL Rule 43 describing penalty shots: “Any dressed player on the offended team may take the penalty shot.” Why? The idea of the penalty shot is to “restore a scoring opportunity which was lost as a result of a foul being committed by the offending team” (another quote from the rule book). In the Las Vegas/Colorado game on Saturday, Reid Reinholdt was on a breakaway and a defender tripped him from behind, taking away the scoring opportunity. Logically, it makes sense for Reinholdt to be given a “replacement” scoring opportunity since his was taken away. Why would it make sense for Zack Greer to be given that opportunity instead?

My guess is that it’s not just to restore the scoring opportunity, it’s more of a deterrent and a little bit punitive as well. I’d guess that most breakaways happen to either (a) transition players or (b) Dane Dobbie coming off the bench. There are a lot of transition players in the NLL who are great scorers but they’re generally not Jeff Teat or Tom Schreiber. As a defender, you might see a transition player with a breakaway and decide to take him down from behind. Hopefully (for you), nothing’s called and you prevented a scoring opportunity. But in the worst case, the transition player gets a penalty shot, which is just a “controlled” breakaway. They already had that anyway, so nothing’s really changed. So why not pull him down from behind? But if the worst case scenario is that their best player gets a penalty shot instead of the guy you took down, you might think twice about taking him down in the first place, and thus the rule has served its purpose. Maybe this isn’t so “not awesome” after all.

Note: this last entry ended up as a sort of stream-of-consciousness thing, as I honestly began writing it thinking “what a dumb rule” and then convinced myself that it wasn’t so dumb after all. I could have rewritten it as “those of you who aren’t as enlightened as myself might think this is a dumb rule, but it’s not and here’s why”, but that would be disingenuous and I thought the discovery process was interesting so I decided to leave it.

Fans who throw stuff on the playing floor

At the end of the Bandits/Rock game, there were several fights. During one of them, a beer can (not an empty one) was thrown onto the playing floor near the fight. I think there might even have been a second one thrown as well. I doubt it’s possible at this point to find out who threw them, but whoever did should be tossed from the building and never allowed inside an NLL arena again. There’s no place for that kind of poor sportsmanship in any sport.

NLL 2023 Week 15

This NLL season just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it? This week, we had three one-goal games, all of which had very exciting endings (see below), Indigenous Heritage night in Toronto, and this year’s Calgary Roughnecks are reminiscent of the 2011 team that was supposed to struggle and didn’t. All of that awesome-ness, and the only thing I have listed under not awesome is still pretty good. Continue reading

2023 NLL Name Pronunciation Guide

Look at my name. Just look at it. If you were to see “Graeme Perrow” for the first time, how would you pronounce it? GRAM-ee puh-ROW? That’s probably the most common one I get, but unless I’m in Scotland or talking to someone who is Scottish, people almost never get it right. I’ve been used to it my whole life. So back in 2011 when I was watching a Calgary Roughnecks game and the announcer talked about KAY-leb TAWth, who had already been a star in the league for a decade, I got frustrated. I decided to write an article listing all of the difficult-to-say names in the NLL and how to say them properly.

Continue reading

2023 NLL Week 11

It was another great weekend of NLL lacrosse action. If you go by the halftime scores, it looked like we’d have a bunch of blowouts but the final scores were much closer – see the second Awesome entry below. We now have a three-way tie for first in the East, with the Bandits, Knighthawks, and Rock taking the top spot. In the West, the Seals still hold first place but watch out for the surging Roughnecks. Speaking of the Roughnecks… Continue reading

2023 NLL Week 10

Another very busy weekend in the NLL, as Colorado played twice and every other team played once. We had blowouts in Toronto and Philly but all the others were either close right down to the wire, or at least were close most of the way through. The defending champion Mammoth had games against two teams that had one win between them, but only came away with a split. The Desert Dogs picked up their second win, the Warriors held their own against the Rush, and Panther City also held their own against the Seals. Just like last week against Toronto, Calgary came back from a few goals down to force overtime, though this week the extra time worked in their favour.

Continue reading

2023 NLL East preview

Division predictions: where I think each team will end up in the standings and who might have a breakout year.

FireWolvesAlbany Firewolves

It’s hard to get really fired up about a team that lost all of their TOP FIVE scorers from last season and didn’t replace them with even one star player. Those top five scored a total of 330 points last season, which is 70% of the team’s total. Kieran McArdle, Connor Kelly, and Haina Thompson will certainly help, but none of the rest of the new additions has more than about 10 NLL games to their name. That’s not to say they’re going to be terrible – only two teams gave up fewer goals than the Firewolves last year, and they still have a solid defensive core, a top-flight goaltender in Doug Jamieson, and Charlie Kitchen will see lots more playing time and could make some big strides. But somebody’s gotta score goals and without a monster year from somebody or an above-average year for several, it could be the dreaded “rebuilding year” for Albany.

Look out for

Connor Kelly hasn’t played an NLL game in almost three years (March 2020 with the Riptide) but if he can shake off the rust quickly, he could have a very good year.


Eighth in the east.

BanditsBuffalo Bandits

The Bandits have been to two of the past three Championships but are still hungry for their first Championship since 2008. They lost Connor Fields and Chase Fraser is out to start the year, but much of the powerhouse Buffalo offense is returning. I said above that only two teams allowed fewer goals than Albany; well, Buffalo was one of them. With that defense (minus veteran Kevin Brownell) in front of reigning/perpetual Goalie of the Year Matt Vinc, and the aforementioned offense, there’s no reason to believe the Bandits can’t contend again this year. The question will be whether they will be good enough to hold off the surging Rock in the East.

Look out for

Tehoka Nanticoke had a very good rookie season, with flashes of “oh my goodness” here and there. With that year of experience, I think Nanticoke takes his game to the next level in 2023. Maybe not a hundred-point type level, but I can see a 20-30 point jump.


Second in the east.

SwarmGeorgia Swarm

The Swarm have lost Stephan Leblanc, Joel White, Jordan Hall, and Mike Poulin to retirement, Miles Thompson to injury, and Chad Tutton to free agency. That’s a lot of big names on offense, transition, defence, and of course their starting goaltender. Jeremy Thompson will help out the D and transition, and also gives the Swarm a pretty solid faceoff tandem along with Jordan MacIntosh. On offense, they brought in Andrew Kew from Albany and 2021 second-overall draft pick Ryan Lanchbury will make his NLL debut this year. If those two can gel with former MVPs Lyle Thompson and Shayne Jackson, the Swarm offense could be very good – maybe not Bandits or Seals good, but certainly sufficient to give the team a chance in any game. The biggest question is goaltending – Craig Wende is 31 but has only played 391 minutes in his entire NLL career. Is he up to the challenge of being a full-time starter and playing 800+ minutes in one season? If not, the Swarm better hope that last year’s trend of excellent rookie goaltenders continues since Brett Dobson has played zero minutes in his NLL career.

Look out for

Bryan Cole used to be one of those guys whose name you didn’t hear much. But you started hearing it more often last season as people realized what he does for the Swarm, which is just about everything. You might start hearing that name a lot more often this season.


Sixth in the east.

ThunderbirdsHalifax Thunderbirds

How does a team lose Shawn Evans, Stephen Keogh, and Rhys Duch in one offseason and still end up better? Well, that’s a bit misleading since they only had Duch for a game and a half and Evans for six games (and was a healthy scratch in a few more). Still, their offense now consists of Ryan Benesch, Cody Jamieson, Randy Staats, Clarke Petterson, Chris Boushy, Eric Fannell, and Austin Shanks. Not too shabby. Ryan Terefenko was an All-Star in the PLL last summer, and along with Tyson Bell gives the Thunderbirds a guys like Jake Withers and Graeme Hossack are among the best defenders in the league. Aaron Bold is not returning to the Thunderbirds so the net is Warren Hill’s once again. Hill has been streaky over his career – he’s had periods of looking unstoppable (eg. most of 2020) but other periods of looking pretty ordinary, so Halifax’s success depends on which Hill they see more of.

Look out for

Terefenko played very well in the PLL and there’s no reason to believe he won’t bring that success to the indoor game as well.


Third in the east.

Riptide-smallNew York Riptide

A lot of people are talking about the Riptide making a big splash this year, and I see no reason to disagree. They haven’t made a ton of changes, really, adding Reilly O’Connor up front and Kevin Brownell and Jordi Jones-Smith on the D while losing Kieran McArdle. New York’s offense was lights out last year, scoring more goals than anyone but the Bandits. Callum Crawford is 38 and so he may have lost half a step from previous seasons, but half a step down from Crawford’s previous seasons is still better than most. I think it’s safe to say that Jeff Teat’s career has not peaked and after watching him play last year, the thought of him getting better is exciting. Connor Kearnan, Jake Fox, and Larson Sundown are all returning, and Tyler Digby is on the holdout list but assuming he returns, the Riptide offense is just as potent as last year. On the back end, Brent Noseworthy and Dan MacRae start the year on the IR but New York has a strong-looking defense even without those two, especially with the addition of Brownell and Jones-Smith. Steven Orleman didn’t have a great start to his debut season as a starter, only winning one of his first seven decisions. But he went 4-4 over his last eight and lowered his GAA from 13.14 over his first nine games to 11.20 over his last nine.

Look out for

I really enjoyed watching Larson Sundown last season. I don’t know if he’ll put up 80 points or anything, but we’ll hear his name a few more times in 2023.


Fourth in the east.

WingsPhiladelphia Wings

They lost Kevin Crowley, Corey Small, and Brett Hickey (and Kyle Jackson, though he’s on the “protected” list, whatever that means), but picked up Joe Resetarits. That’s still a net negative from last season, and even with Crowley, Small, Hickey, and Jackson along with Matt Rambo, Ben McIntosh, and Blaze Riorden on the offense, the Wings were second last in the league in scoring last year. A bit of an offensive shakeup might have been needed here. The addition of veteran defender Chad Tutton is one of the more understated free agent signings of the off-season.

Look out for

I think Ben McIntosh will take more of a leadership role on the Wings offense. He won’t outscore Resetarits, but he’ll jump back up to the 70-80 point range where he was in Saskatchewan.


Fifth in the east.

KnighthawksRochester Knighthawks

The Knighthawks finished last or near the bottom of the league last year in most categories, so it stands to reason that they’ve made a lot of changes. Connor Fields and Austin Hasen join the offense; Fields got some time during a couple of seasons in San Diego and then had a breakout season in Buffalo last year. Hasen is a rookie but won the Mann Cup with the Lakers over the summer, and looked quite comfortable playing with a pile of NLL stars so expect him to fit right in. Riley Hutchcraft will fight Rylan Hartley for the starting goalie spot (and we know Hartley can fight). One concern with the Knighthawks is the number of injuries: Cory Highfield, Ryland Rees, Jeff Wittig, Tyler Biles, and Thomas Whitty all played significant time with Rochester last year but begin the year on the IR or PUP.

Look out for

Austin Hasen will mesh well with fellow Lakers Holden Cattoni, Thomas Hoggarth, and Turner Evans (not to mention Paul Dawson, Jordan Stouros, Thomas Whitty, Mitch Ogilvie, Matt Gilray, and coach and Austin’s dad Mike Hasen).


Seventh in the east.

RockToronto Rock

The Rock know that they were maybe half a second away from sending their last game of 2022 to overtime, and potentially going to the Championship game. They are in win-now mode and had to get better during the off-season, which is exactly what they did. Their off-season haul is one of the best of any team. Corey Small may not return to the 111 points he had in 2017 but 30 goals and 70 points is not unlikely. Stephen Keogh will fill a Kasey Beirnes type of role but with more grit – he does the “dirty work”, sets hard picks, and generally gets crushed inside so his teammates on the outside get better looks. And like Beirnes, he won’t put up the big numbers that others might but he’ll be instrumental to the Rock offense. And it’s not like he doesn’t score at all – he scores some pretty beautiful goals.

On the back-end, the Rock allowed by far the fewest goals of any team last year – only two teams were within twenty of the Rock’s total. In fact, since the league moved to an 18-game season in 2014, only one team (the 2014 Edmonton Rush) has allowed fewer than the Rock’s 166 last year. They had Defender of the Year Mitch de Snoo, Brad Kri, and Latrell Harris, all three of which showed up in the top 10 of IL Indoor’s list of the league’s best defenders. Now you add Chris Corbeil (also in the top ten) to that incredible defense? I imagine Nick Rose cannot wait to get this season started to be able to watch those guys in front of him. Unfortunately, Corbeil was injured during the off season and had shoulder surgery in October so he won’t be ready to start the season.

Look out for

Challen Rogers will be playing on the offense this season, so watch for his scoring numbers to skyrocket. But I’m going to say Zach Manns has a breakout year, taking over many of the touches that Reid Reinholdt had last year.


First in the east.

2023: Who’s in, who’s out

Here it is: a complete summary of all the roster changes for each team, all in one place.

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 2022. And a player who’s injured but still part of that team will be listed as “out”. Not all teams have announced who’s on their IR, PUP, or holdout lists so take “None” with a grain of salt. Also most teams don’t have (or didn’t announce) a “Protected” list, but a few did.

And since a number of you have asked, no I don’t know exactly what the different lists mean or the criteria to be on one. I think the PUP list means you got injured playing lacrosse while the IR list means you got injured doing something else. Or possibly it’s the other way around. I’m not sure why it would matter how someone got injured (Anthony Cosmo once made one of these lists because he injured himself shovelling snow), it really only matters that they can’t play. Continue reading

NLL Schedule 2023

The 2023 NLL schedule has been announced. I’m sure there are fans of every team screaming about how unfair it is to their team in particular, because there always are. But honestly, it’s really pretty good for most teams. Only one team plays back-to-back games twice, and one of those is a weekend with two home games. Going for weeks without playing is always a problem but it’s fairly even – ten of the fifteen teams go at least 21 days without a game, but nobody goes more than 22 days.

There is one part of the schedule I’m not crazy about, so we’ll lead with that.

Continue reading