Pre-season predictions revisited

As I always do at the end of the season, it’s time to look at my predictions from the beginning of the season and see how far off I was. Since the actual award winners won’t be announced until the end of August (?!?!) I obviously can’t include those, but I’ll include who I think should win.

Final Standings

East

Prediction Actual
Rochester Rochester
Toronto Toronto
Buffalo Buffalo
Minnesota Philadelphia
Philadelphia Minnesota

3 correct out of 5. Philly did a little better than I expected and Minnesota did far worse.

West

Prediction Actual
Calgary Edmonton
Vancouver Calgary
Edmonton Colorado
Colorado Vancouver

0 correct out of 5. Obviously Edmonton was much better than I thought and Vancouver much worse.

Individual Awards

MVP

Prediction: Garrett Billings. Short list: Cody Jamieson, Mark Matthews

My Choice: Cody Jamieson. On episode 17 of Addicted to Lacrosse, I picked Billings as MVP, but I’m rethinking that decision now. The Rock went 3-0 down the stretch without Billings, so it’s hard to argue that he’s more valuable to the team than anyone else is to their team. That said, nobody stands out as having been head and shoulders above anyone else. I’m going with Jamieson because he’s not only the top scorer on the team and in the league, but because he’s been the face and de facto leader of the Knighthawks since coming into the league.

 

Goaltender of the Year

Prediction: Matt Vinc. Short list: Tyler Richards, Aaron Bold

My Choice: Aaron Bold. Lowest-ever GAA, 15 wins, 3rd best save % in the league. Made almost 200 fewer saves than Anthony Cosmo, but faced almost 240 fewer shots. That’s how good Edmonton’s defense was this year.

 

Defensive Player of the Year

Prediction: Kyle Rubisch. Short list: Mike Grimes, Rory Smith

My Choice: Kyle Rubisch. You could also make arguments for Rubisch’s teammates Brett Mydske and Chris Corbeil.

 

Transition Player of the Year

Prediction: Geoff Snider. Short list: Jesse Gamble, Brad Self

My Choice: Jeremy Thompson. I’ve talked about Thompson many times before. There’s seemingly nothing he can’t do – he can score, play defense, take faceoffs, fight, and run like the wind. And he has a cool tattoo on his back and ponytail and he’s a movie star. You could make an argument for Corbeil here too.

 

Rookie of the Year

Prediction: Robert Church. Short list: Logan Schuss, Jason Noble, Cody Bremner, Karsen Leung

My Choice: Tough one. Church, Schuss, Tyler Digby, Dillon Ward, and Leung have all had very good rookie seasons, but I think I’m going to go with Schuss with Dillon Ward as a strong #2. Ward gave the Mammoth the reliable goaltender they haven’t had since the Gee Nash days.

 

Les Bartley (Coach of the Year)

Prediction: Chris Hall. Short list: Troy Cordingley, Derek Keenan

My Choice: Derek Keenan. Half-way through the season I was wondering how to pick between Keenan and Cordingley but the last half of the season made that decision a little easier.

 

GM of the Year

Prediction: Steve Dietrich. Short list: Doug Locker

My Choice: Derek Keenan, partially because of the players he picked up at the draft (Church, Loewen, Sorichetti all played big roles this year), and partially because of the moves he’s made over the last couple of years. Keenan has turned the worst team in the league to one of the best the league has ever seen.

 

Just realized that other than MVP, every one of my choices was for Edmonton.

 

“Watch Out For…”

In each of my team previews, I added a “Watch out for” section for a player that I thought would have a great year. I was even right on a couple.

Rochester: Joe Walters. I said he “could emerge as their #3 scorer”. Ended up as #5 but his 41 points eclipsed his 33 from last year.

Philadelphia: Kevin Crowley. 71 points in his first season, 72 in his second, 75 this year. The Wings don’t really have a team leader, and I though maybe Crowley would make an effort to pick up the unofficial title, like Jamieson has done with the Knighthawks, but he didn’t even lead his team in scoring.

Buffalo: Ryan Benesch. Not one of Benny’s best seasons but not much different from the numbers he was putting up in Minnesota. Of course, you’d expect a 12.5% increase in points since there were 12.5% more games, but that didn’t seem to be true for most players.

Toronto: Kyle Belton. Sort of right. He had a good season and was traded for Brandon Miller.

Minnesota: Kiel Matisz. Totally missed this one. Matisz fell from 63 points in his rookie season to only 36 in 2014. Goals dropped by 7 but assists dropped by 20. Maybe he was used more as a transition guy than offense and so his numbers dropped, or maybe it was just that the Swarm couldn’t score so there were fewer assists to be had.

Edmonton: Curtis Knight. Nailed this one. Jumped from 46 to 72 points, second on the Rush and there were a number of times that I felt he was more the quarterback of their offense than Matthews was.

Colorado: Sean Pollock. 51 points, exactly the same as last year. Not a superstar but definitely one of the important parts of the Mammoth offense.

Calgary: Curtis Dickson. He had 3.88 points per game last year, and bumped that to an even 4. Nominal increase but not the big jump I thought we might see. Still a pure goal-scorer; Dickson has never had more assists than goals in a season.

Vancouver: Lewis Ratcliff. Yeah, not so much. After a mid-season benching, Ratcliff came back with a vengeance, picking up 6 and 8 points in his next two games. But then he averaged just over 2 points over the last 5. His 55 points were the lowest of his career since his debut season with the Roughnecks in 2003.

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Week 18 picks

Can you believe it’s already the last week of the regular season? The Rush won’t have a perfect season and they’ve already set the NLL record for wins in a season with 15, but while everyone’s been focused on the Rush, Rochester has quietly picked up 13 wins themselves. At the other end of the spectrum, Minnesota has 13 losses with one game left, while Vancouver has 12 losses and 2 games left. Both teams could hit 14 losses, though that wouldn’t be the record. Both the 2004 Anaheim Storm and the 2006 Edmonton Rush went 1-15. Not pointing any fingers here, but Cam Bergman and Teddy Jenner were members of both of those teams.

Record: 53-23 (.697)

Game
Comments
Pick
VAN @ EDM If Vancouver plays like they can play, they could give Edmonton some trouble. But if they play like they have been playing most of this season, it won’t even be close. Rush4
ROC @ BUF Buffalo is bound to end their losing streak at some point, and they are playing for home floor advantage in the first round, but the Knighthawks are just too strong. Knighthawks5
COL @ PHI Philly is out and so has nothing to play for but pride. I’m sure they’d like to put on a good show for their fans but the playoff-bound Mammoth are getting ready to take on the Roughnecks. Mammoth4
TOR @ MIN The Rock have a 3 game-winning streak going, and both Brandon Miller and Nick Rose have played very well in the last few games. The Swarm have only beaten two teams this year and the Rock ain’t one of them. It’s hard to pick the upset in this case. Rock5
CAL @ VAN Sorry Stealth fans, I think you’re going 0-2 this weekend. If that happens, it’ll be the Stealth’s second 5-game losing streak of the season. Roughnecks

Week 17 picks

I went 3-2 last week, missing Colorado going where no team had gone before, and Minnesota’s upset of Buffalo (though I did say “I can see an upset here”). I have broken the magical barrier of 50 correct picks out of 71, and now I’m going for 60 out of 81. I’m still ahead of everyone in the IL Indoor crew, though Bob Chavez is only one game behind me. The worst I can finish is 50-31, almost twenty games above .500. Trust me, nobody is more stunned by that than I am. Well, maybe one person.

Record: 50-21 (.712)

Game
Comments
Pick
BUF @ TOR Might be a homer pick again, but the Rock played well without Billings last weekend, and the thought of jumping over the Bandits for second place (not that this one win would do that) is probably quite alluring. Then again, the Bandits are desperate to avoid another six-game losing streak. Rock
BUF @ ROC If this was the Bandits from the first half of the season, this would be a tough call. But the Bandits from the second half of the season are quite a different team. Read an article saying that the Bandits have been hit by a “flu bug” so that won’t help them either. Knighthawks
COL @ MIN Colorado is in the playoffs if they win or if Vancouver loses, but I imagine the Mammoth want to get in themselves. Minnesota has nothing to play for since they’re already out, so they might be in “let the young kids get some playing time” mode. Mammoth
CAL @ EDM Edmonton’s had their way with Calgary this year (winning all 3 games by a combined score of 45-26). The Rush face the Stealth next week so I see them going 17-1. Rush
PHI @ VAN The Stealth have a chance at the playoffs but it’s pretty faint. But if they don’t play their hearts out trying to make the most of that chance, then they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs anyway. Stealth

Week 16 picks

5-1 last week, only missing the one game I hoped to get wrong, the Rock’s defeat of the Stealth. There are only 15 games left this year, so the worst I can finish is 47-34. Then again, I could also finish at 62-19. That might be optimistic though.

Record: 47-19 (.712)

Game
Comments
Pick
EDM @ COL If the mighty Roughnecks and Knighthawks couldn’t take the Rush down, I can’t see the Mammoth doing it. Then again, the Rush only beat the Mammoth by one last week and have already clinched everything they can clinch in the regular season. The Mammoth are at home and are still in a playoff race. But I’m still picking Edmonton. Rush
PHI @ TOR Homer pick? Perhaps but the Rock played a really good game last week, missing Garrett Billings for more than half of it. The question is whether they can adapt their offence for a full game without him. Will they ride Brandon Miller while he’s playing well, or go back to Nick Rose? Rock
VAN @ ROC Which Stealth team shows up? If it’s the one from last week, the Knighthawks should have no problem with them. If it’s not, and we end up with a good ol’ fashioned Vinc vs. Richards matchup, it’ll be a great game. Knighthawks
BUF @ MIN I imagine the Bandits are angry with their performance last weekend. Any time you get compared with a team that missed the playoffs (the 2013 Bandits), you need to step your game up and I think Troy will get that out of his team this weekend. That said, the Swarm have been playing pretty well over the last few weeks but still have managed to be on the losing end of most of them. I can see an upset here. Bandits
EDM @ CAL The Rush have had their way with the Roughnecks this season, beating them 15-8 and 15-7. Even if they lose to the Mammoth, I think the Rush will take this one. Rush43338

Week 15 picks

I went 3-2 last week, missing the Vancouver defeat of the Bandits and Philly’s win over Colorado. This week I see Calgary and Rochester each going 2-0.

Record: 42-18 (.700)

Game
Comments
Pick
CAL @PHI I think Philly is a better team than their record indicates. But I think Calgary is still a better team. Roughnecks53
ROC @MIN First place team in the east against the last place team in the east. We could have an upset, and if there is one it’s probably this one in Minnesota as opposed to the next one in Rochester, but I still have to go with the champs. Knighthawks
CAL @ BUF Buffalo started the year really impressing me but not so much in the last few games. They looked like the 2013 Bandits last week – shaky offense and undisciplined. If they pull themselves together, this could be a great game. Roughnecks53
MIN @ ROC As above. Knighthawks
COL @ EDM Can’t bet against the Rush at this point. Rush43338
TOR @ VAN The Stealth looked pretty good last weekend against the Bandits, or was it the Bandits that didn’t look so good? Lewis Ratcliff didn’t like being a healthy scratch and has been playing well since his return. The Rock have been good for 30 minutes and not-so-good for 30 minutes in each of the last few games. Stealth

Week 14 picks

I went 2-2 last weekend, getting the west games right (Edmonton, Calgary) and the east games wrong (Toronto, Buffalo). Since Tyler only went 1-3, we’re now tied at 39-16, one game better than the top IL Indoor prognosticator, Bob Chavez.

Record: 39-16 (.709)

Game
Comments
Pick
EDM @ ROC Toughest test yet for the Rush. Of course, I thought the Bandits would be a tough test for the Rush and they handled them like they were the 2013 Bandits. Looking forward to this one. Rush4333
MIN @ CAL Last week’s Swarm victory over the Bandits (and their OT loss to the Rock the week before) gave the Swarm some confidence but it’ll take more than confidence to get past Mike Poulin and keep from getting swamped by the Calgary powerhouse offense. Imagine how good they’d be with Scott Ranger in the lineup every day. Roughnecks5
PHI @ COL Adam Jones returns alongside Casey Powell, John Grant, and Drew Westervelt. Oh and Sean Pollock, Athan Iannucci, and Joel Dalgarno. Obviously Jones’ injury hurt and Powell and Iannucci have only played 5 games each, but this team should really be in the top few in goals scored per game rather than 8th. Still, they have the firepower to get by Philly as long as Mr. Crowley doesn’t have another one of those outbursts like last weekend. Mammoth
BUF @ VAN Buffalo’s street cred took a bit of a beating last weekend, getting blown out by the best team in the league and then losing to the worst team in the league. But I think they’re still a good enough team to beat the floundering Stealth. Bandits433
EDM @ TOR I’m bringing my dad to this game so hopefully the Rock puts on a good show. If the Rock from the early part of the season – who lost to the Rush by 1, beat the Roughnecks handily, and demolished the Wings – shows up we’re in good shape. At least they’ll put up a good fight. If the more recent Rock, losers of four of the last five, show up, we’re in trouble. Either way, I think the Rush take this one. Rush4333

The NLL Pronunciation Guide 2014

There I am, just sitting at my computer watching the Swarm play the Bandits… when it happens. I’m not shocked, but a little startled. A week later, the Rock are playing the Swarm and it happens again, more than once. Again, not shocking but my anxiety level starts to rise. Then it happens again this past weekend (I was so distraught I don’t even remember which game it was), and I lose it. I snap. I resolve right then and there to write yet another name pronunciation guide (here’s last year’s and the original from 2011) in the hopes that the NLL announcers will read it and start pronouncing the players’ names right, even if only for a change of pace. I may have to start doing one of these every year to cover the rookies.

A couple of times recently I’ve even heard announcers getting names entirely wrong. If you see “Aaron Wilson” and decide “Aaron” is pronounced “COLL-in”, well I can’t help you. I’m doing my best by writing this article but I’m no miracle worker.

Note that not all NLL announcers are in need of this list. Guys like Dave Walls and Jake Elliott know the league and the players and while they might get a rookie’s name wrong in his first game, they’re not going to mess up Kelusky or Steenhuis. But not all of the announcers are as familiar with the players, so this article is for them.

I’ve organized the names alphabetically within their teams starting with the East division.

 

Buffalo

Ryan Benesch – buh-NESH

Kevin Brownell – brow-NELL

Steve Priolo – pree-O-lo

Joe Resetarits – res-uh-TARE-its

Dhane Smith – DANE

Mark Steenhuis – STAIN-house

John Tavares – tuh-VAR-es

Jay Thorimbert – THOR-im-burt

Kurtis Wagar – WAY-ger

 

Minnesota

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

Alex Crepinsek – CREP-in-seck

Kiel Matisz – KYLE muh-TEEZ

Logan Schuss – SHUSS (rhymes with BUS). Confirmed by Logan himself.

Corbyn Tao – COR-bin TOW (TOW rhymes with COW)

Philadelphia

CJ Costabile – COST-a-bull

Kevin Crowley – CROW-lee where CROW also rhymes with COW, not like the bird CROW

Tracey Kelusky – kuh-LUH-skee. Not kuh-LOO-skee

Garrett Thul – THOOL

Chad Wiedmaier – WEED-myer

 

Rochester

Mike Accursi – uh-KER-see

Stephen Keogh – KEY-o

Matt Vinc – like the name VINCE. Not VINK

Cory Vitarelli – vit-uh-REL-ee

 

Toronto

Kasey Beirnes – BEERns. Not BEER-ness

Nick Diachenko – dya-CHENG-ko.

Billy Hostrawser – HO-straw-zer. I got this wrong last year.

Stephen Leblanc – STEFF-in luh-BLONK. Not luh-BLANK.

 

Calgary

Dane Dobbie – DOUGH-bee. Not like Dobby.

Karsen Leung – lee-UNG

Tor Reinholdt – RINE-holt

Frankie Scigliano – shill-ee-ANN-o

Geoff Snider – SNY-der. One of my pet peeves is when he’s called SHNY-der.

 

Colorado

Tye Belanger – buh-LON-zhay

Joey Cupido – koo-PEE-do

Athan Iannucci – eye-uh-NOOCH-ee

Chet Koneczny – kon-EZ-nee

Creighton Reid – CRAY-ton

Bob Snider – SNY-der

Drew Westervelt – WEST-er-velt

 

Edmonton

Nik Bilic – Technically BIL-ich but most people say BIL-ik

Chris Corbeil – cor-BEEL

Riley Loewen – LOW-en where LOW does not rhyme with COW.

Brett Mydske – MID-skee

Adrian Sorichetti – sore-i-KET-ee

Kyle Rubisch – ROO-bish. My Scottish relatives might say it like “rubbish” but he’s not.

 

Vancouver

Rhys Duch – REES DUTCH

Ilija Gajic – ILL-ee-ya GUY-ch

Justin Pychel – PITCH-el

Nick Weiss – WEES. I know, right? Looks like WYSS! But it’s not! The hell, man?

 

Non-players

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

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

Jamie Dawick – DOW-ick. DOW rhymes with, you guessed it, COW. Owner of the Rock.

Tyler Fitch – TY-ler FITCH. My other co-host on Addicted to Lacrosse. Easy name to pronounce but I didn’t want to leave him out.

Marisa Ingemi – muh-RISS-a in-JEMM-ee. In Lacrosse We Trust writer.

Darris Kilgour – DARE-iss KILL-gore. Former Bandits coach/GM.

Curt Malawsky – muh-LOW-skee. Had to get another COW rhyme in there. Roughnecks head coach.

Graeme Perrow – GRAY-um PAIR-o. Yours truly.

Craig Rybczynski – rib-CHIN-skee. Knighthawks broadcaster.

Grant Spies – SPEEZ. NLL ref.