Looking forward to 2018: West Division

Yesterday I went over the Eastern division teams and what changes they may need before next season. Today, we’re looking to the West.

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The saga of Garrett Billings

Garrett Billings and Stephen Leblanc both exploded into the league in 2010. Leblanc beat out Billings for the Rookie of the Year award, and each beat the other by one point over their first two seasons. But in 2012, Billings took a giant leap forward, recording 114 points and leaving Leblanc’s 65 in the dust. He finished second in league scoring in both 2012 and 2013, and third in 2014, and was an also a top MVP candidate in all of those seasons. Near the end of 2014, however, he injured his knee (in a game in Vancouver, ironically enough) and missed the rest of the season and the playoffs. Nobody knew at the time that it was the last game for Billings in a Rock uniform.

This bummed me out, since I’ve been a big Billings fan since 2010. I have a Rock shirt with his name on it, and I even used a picture of him as the icon for this blog on Facebook.

But once he was healthy again, he didn’t return to the Rock lineup. It soon became clear that he and the Rock were involved in contract negotiations that weren’t going well. I won’t go over all the details here, mainly since we don’t know them all, but during the 2015 season Billings was traded to New England for Kevin Crowley (who was later flipped back to New England for Dan Lintner). He picked up 36 points in 8 games for the Black Wolves and was later dealt to the Stealth in what ended up being a three-way deal that sent Tyler Digby to Calgary and Shawn Evans to New England.

As a Langley native, Billings playing for Vancouver sounds like a dream for both him and the team. He played in 11 games with the Stealth in 2016 and picked up 60 points, a pace that would have netted him 98 over 18 games. But something happened between Billings and the Stealth in the offseason or early 2017, and nobody knows what it was, or at least I don’t. Billings started the season on the IR but once healthy, only played in four games. He was a healthy scratch for six games and once he was added to the holdout list at the end of March, the Garrett Billings era in Vancouver came to a premature end.

Garrett Billings

It’s odd that one of the best players in the league from 2010 through 2014 is on the Stealth roster but doesn’t figure in to their plans. It’s unlikely he’ll suit up for the Stealth again and I hope he’s amenable to travelling since home games for him will be somewhere else next year. I’ve read comments that he’s actually Athan Iannucci’d himself right out of the league – clearly nobody was breaking down Doug Locker’s door last season to get him. I hope that’s not true but we’ll see what the post-season brings.

Where to?

Trade speculation is always a crapshoot but just for fun, let’s have a look at where Billings might end up if he’s traded. We’ll just think about two-team trades that only involve Billings, otherwise there are just too many possibilities.

I imagine the bridges have been burned with respect to the Rock, and with Hickey, Schreiber, Lintner, Beirnes, and Hellyer, they’re packed with righties anyway. Could he fit in on the right side with the Bandits? That would allow them to put Mark Steenhuis back on transition, though they’re not hurting in the transition department anyway so that’s not really filling a need. Rochester is a possibility, particularly considering their offensive woes this season. They have three first-round draft picks this fall and still have their first round picks in 2018 and 2019, so that’s a possibility for what heads west. Billings may not be what he once was (though his 2016 numbers indicate that he could be) but assuming he’s not still injured in some way, I think he’s still worth a first-round pick.

Georgia? Their offense is just fine, thanks. The Black Wolves have Evans, Crowley, and Kyle Buchanan on the right side so I’m not sure adding Billings to that list makes sense but replacing one of those guys might. Kevin Crowley is also from BC so that’s a possibility (could we have a second “Billings to New England for Crowley” deal?) but (a) I believe Crowley lives on the east coast now, and (b) the Stealth don’t need Billings on the right side, so they likely don’t need Crowley on the right side either. Call that a probably not.

The Rush and Mammoth are fine on the right side so the only possibility left is Calgary. They only used three righties in 2017: Dickson, Berg, and Digby. The Roughnecks missed the playoffs in 2017; could they use a guy like Billings to shake things up? Sure they could. If the Roughnecks don’t want to give up a player, they have one first round draft pick this year, plus two in each of 2018 and 2019.

There are always factors involved in trades that we don’t know about. But if I had to guess, I’d say the Roughnecks sounds like the most likely target. Interesting that he and Digby, who were once traded for each other, would end up as teammates in that scenario.

It’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out in Vancouver, but I hope Billings returns to the NLL in 2018 as effective as ever. Maybe I’m biased as a Billings fan as well as a Rock fan who watched him make significant contributions over the years, including helping to bring the 2011 Championship to Toronto, but similar to Cody Jamieson, I think the league is better with Garrett Billings in it.

In which I admit my mistake

Last week on Addicted to Lacrosse, I talked a little bit about the circumstances surrounding the Ryan Dilks / Cliff Smith fight from last Saturday. I said that I was surprised that the Stealth ended up on the power play rather than the Rush, considering Matt Beers should have gotten a penalty for an illegal cross-check and Smith could even have gotten a third-man-in penalty (which is an immediate game misconduct and a game suspension). I didn’t say it in so many words but my implication was that the refs blew the call.

The video from the fourth quarter from that game was not yet available so I couldn’t go back and see what actually happened, but it’s there now, so here’s my follow-up.

In short, I was wrong.

Here’s what happened. Jeremy Thompson ran up the floor looking backwards, waiting for a pass from Ryan Dilks. He received it, turned around, and saw Matt Beers right in front of him. He dropped his shoulder a little just before they collided and Beers went flying. Thompson kept the ball and walked away slowly. Beers got up, came back over and cross-checked Thompson across the upper arm. Dilks took exception to the hit and went after Beers and while the two of them were chatting, Thompson took another couple of steps, dropped to his knees for a second, then rolled onto his back, clearly hurt. At that point, Cliff Smith got between Dilks and Beers and the two of them got into it. I can’t say for sure that any actual punches were thrown before they fell, almost on top of Thompson.

Dilks got two for roughing, and Dilks and Smith got five each for fighting.

Matt Beers

Mistake #1: Beers hit on Thompson was a totally legal cross-check. No penalty was warranted.

Mistake #2: Smith was not the third man in since Dilks and Beers were doing some pushing but not fighting. You can’t be the third man in in a fight when there’s no fight.

Would I have given Dilks an extra two for roughing? Probably not, but I can see why they did. So the end result: The refs got it right, as they usually do. And I was wrong, as I… well, let’s just leave it at I was wrong.

Could happen… 2017 edition

Round about this time of year, people think they have a decent idea of how the standings will end up, more or less. So far this season, Saskatchewan has clinched a playoff berth, but nobody else has. We think the Rush and Swarm will probably be at the top in their divisions, but it’s not guaranteed. Calgary and Rochester are currently at the bottom but both are only a half game back of the team in front of them. There’s enough time left for some really crazy things to happen, and every year I find it fun to look over the possibilities if the lower-ranked teams start winning and the teams at the top start losing. If everything falls into place, could we have a Calgary-Rochester final? Could the Swarm miss the playoffs? Let’s look at some scenarios that are unlikely but still possible:

Calgary finishes 2nd in the west

Calgary wins out, Saskatchewan loses to Vancouver, New England, and Toronto, and Colorado loses out. Then the Rush win the west at 10-8, Calgary is second at 9-9, and Colorado and Vancouver tie at 8-10. Vancouver would win the tiebreaker in that scenario with a 3-1 record against the Mammoth, so Colorado is out.
Calgary wins out, Vancouver beats Colorado, and Colorado loses one more game. Then the Roughnecks are 9-9 and the Mammoth are at best 9-9, but Calgary holds the tiebreaker.

Vancouver wins the west

Update: Can’t happen anymore.
Vancouver wins out, Saskatchewan loses at least three more, and Colorado loses to Rochester. Then the Stealth are at 10-8, the Rush and Mammoth are at 9-9, and the Roughnecks are at best 8-10.

All five teams in the east finish 9-9

Update: Can’t happen anymore.
New England beats Georgia and Saskatchewan and loses to Vancouver. Buffalo beats Calgary, Toronto, and Georgia twice. Rochester beats Colorado, New England, and Georgia twice. Toronto loses to Saskatchewan and beats Buffalo. Then all the eastern teams are 9-9 and we have the nastiest tie-breaker ever.

Rochester wins the east

Update: Can’t happen anymore.
Rochester wins out. Toronto and Georgia lose out. Buffalo loses to Calgary. New England loses to Saskatchewan and Vancouver. Then Rochester, Georgia, and Buffalo are 9-9 while Toronto and New England are 8-10. Rochester has a 4-2 record against Buffalo and Georgia and wins the east while Buffalo finishes second and Georgia third.

Buffalo wins the east

Update: Can’t happen anymore.
Buffalo wins out. Toronto and Georgia lose out. New England loses to Saskatchewan and Vancouver. Rochester beats New England and loses to Colorado. Then the Bandits are 10-8, Georgia is 9-9, and the rest are tied at 8-10. New England wins the tiebreaker and makes the playoffs.

Georgia misses the playoffs

Update: Georgia has now clinched a playoff spot.
Georgia loses out. Toronto beats Saskatchewan and Buffalo. New England beats Saskatchewan and Rochester. Buffalo beats Calgary and Toronto. Then Toronto and New England have 10 wins while Buffalo and Georgia are both 9-9. Buffalo would win the tie-breaker here and the Swarm are out.

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.

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.