Week 15 picks

3-3 record last week thanks to Tye Belanger keeping the Rush offense to only 7 goals and the Wings remembering how to score goals. The only way I can finish at or above .500 this season is to go 8-1 or 9-0 in the last two weeks, so that is the plan. If it doesn’t happen, it’s not my fault – blame the players for not going along with the plan.

Record: 28-35 (.444)




ROC @ CAL Rochester will very likely make the playoffs, which wasn’t certain only a few weeks ago. Calgary already has but would like a home playoff game. Both teams have won 3 of their last 5 (for Calgary, it’s actually 3 of their last 4). Matt Vinc hasn’t given up as many as 12 in a game since January 19 and has held the Wings, Rock, Bandits, and Stealth to single-digits since then. Mike Poulin has only kept opponents below 12 four times this season. Knighthawks
MIN @ COL Minnesota seems to have become the team I thought they were going to be at the beginning of the season, though it took them a long time to get there. Callum Crawford is on fire (7+ points in 5 straight games) and Tyler Carlson has a GAA of 6.00 and save % of 88% in his last two starts. Since Minnesota keeps swapping starting goalies and Kirk lost in Philly last week, this is Carlson’s game. Swarm
TOR @ PHI The Rock really want that top seed overall, but the Wings aren’t guaranteed a playoff spot quite yet, and they always seem to give the Rock trouble. When Brandon Miller is “on”, he’s almost untouchable (though you could say that about almost all of the starting goalies in the league), and with Mundorf back from injury, the Wings offense just got stronger. The Rock currently have the best record in the league, so picking them is not a homer pick. I’m sticking to that. Rock
BUF @ WAS The Bandits seem to have lost interest in the 2013 season, while the Stealth still have a chance at a home playoff game. Buffalo is this close to being eliminated from the playoffs, so either they’ll pour on the energy this weekend in an attempt to stay in the race, or they’ll fold, figuring they have no chance. I didn’t see much fight in them last week or the week before, so I don’t expect much this weekend. Stealth
ROC @ EDM The Rush are 1-5 at home and 7-1 on the road, so maybe they’re not playing for home-floor advantage in the playoffs. The Rush looked too good in their games against Buffalo and Toronto the other week to bet against them. Every team had bad games, which is what they had against Colorado last week, but I think they’ll bounce back. Rush

NLL Annual Award short lists and prediction recap

There are still a couple of weeks left in the season, but here are some early player award possibilities as well as a look at my predictions from the beginning of the season. Some of them were pretty close, others… not so much.

The front-runners are the few people, in no particular order, who I think have the best shot of winning the award. For the most part, I haven’t made my actual selections yet, so these are just my short-lists. In most cases, I put a dark horse as well; someone who probably won’t win the award but should be considered.


Prediction: Dan Dawson, Garrett Billings. Dawson has been good but not outstanding. Billings has been outstanding.

Front-runners: Garrett Billings, Shawn Evans, Mark Matthews

Dark horse: Callum Crawford

Goaltender of the Year

Prediction: Anthony Cosmo, Aaron Bold. Cosmo hasn’t been great, though I wouldn’t blame the Bandits lousy season on him. Bold is 3rd among starters in GAA but 8th in save %. He has been very good, though not as good as last year.

Front-runners: Matt Vinc, Nick Rose, Tyler Richards

Dark horse: Tye Belanger has been excellent though has half the minutes of the other starters (other than the Swarm’s dynamic duo).

Transition Player of the Year

Prediction: Jordan MacIntosh, Paul Rabil. MacIntosh is on my short list. Rabil has been good but not Tranny of the Year good.

Front-runners: Geoff Snider, Jordan MacIntosh, Jesse Gamble, Jeremy Thompson, Jordan Hall

Dark horse: Brad Self

Defensive Player of the Year

I’ll admit it: I suck when it comes to evaluating defensemen. Part of it is because I’m a stats guy, and there are no really useful stats for defenders. But a lot of it is that I have no formal training – I’m self-taught in the art of watching lacrosse. I’m a fan who’s never actually played the game. When I’m watching a game, I’m watching the offensive players and the goalie. I will notice when a defender makes a great play or if a team seems to hear the shot clock buzzer an awful lot (implying a good defensive unit), but I don’t generally notice individual defenders. That said, I have made a point to watch Kyle Rubisch and Chris Corbeil because you hear about them so much, and Sandy Chapman has always been one of my favourite Rock players. I remember watching Paul Dawson shut people down (and occasionally beat the snot out of them) with the Blazers.

It’s weird though – I can look at a list of transition players and have general feelings on how they’ve been playing without looking at the stats. I have no idea how many points Brad Self has, or Jordan Hall, or Jeremy Thompson, but I know they’re having good seasons. I have no such impressions with pure defenders.

Prediction: Kyle Rubisch, Paul Dawson

Front-runners: Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil, Paul Dawson, Scott Self

Dark horse: I got nothing.

Rookie of the Year

Prediction: Mark Matthews, Kiel Matisz. Woo, nailed it on this one. Unlike everyone else who also predicted Matthews as ROY.

Front-runners: Mark Matthews, Kiel Matisz, Tye Belanger, Mitch McMichael, Kyle Belton, Curtis Knight, Dhane Smith

Dark horse: Anyone but Matthews, really.

Update: Can’t believe I forgot Dhane Smith on the original list. Also, apparently Tye Belanger is not considered a rookie.

Les Bartley Award

Prediction: Troy Cordingley, Joe Sullivan. Again, nailed it.

Front-runners: Troy Cordingley, Chris Hall, Joe Sullivan, Derek Keenan

Dark horse: Mike Hasen if the Knighthawks continue playing well in the last two weeks.

GM of the Year

Prediction: Curt Styres, Steve Dietrich. The Knighthawks and Bandits both made significant offseason moves and I thought at least one of them would be successful. The offseason Rochester moves didn’t seem to make the team appreciably better, but the Powell-for-Sullivan, Self, and Purves moves were all good. The Bandits moves made the team worse and other than Dhane Smith, didn’t really set them up for the future either (though the Cosmo trade that lost them next year’s first round pick was Kilgour, not Dietrich).

Front-runners: Derek Keenan, John Arlotta

Dark horse: Johnny Mouradian. Dawson+Dawson for Rabil+Hall isn’t nearly the disaster I thought it might be.

Week 14 picks

Last week I went 3-2, my fourth straight week of .500-or-better predictions. I guess I’m settling down as we get deeper into the season. You know what they say, particularly in the NLL – you don’t want to peak early. Much better to get hot near the end of the season. Right, 2012 Knighthawks?

Record: 25-32 (.439)




WAS @ CAL Tough one. Washington can clinch a playoff spot by beating the Roughnecks, so they’re hungry. The Roughnecks know they were one T-Rich penalty away from losing to the Stealth last weekend, and they’re playing to clinch a home date. I’ll take Calgary at home, but in a close one. Roughnecks
COL @ EDM How can you bet against the Rush, the way they’ve been playing? Sure they’re 1-4 at home, but haven’t played there in over a month and have since won five straight including beating both the Rock and Roughnecks handily. Rush
BUF @ MIN The Swarm have won their last two by 7 and 9 goals. The Bandits have lost five in a row. The Bandits certainly have the talent to win this game, and you’d think that having their backs to the wall playoff-wise would spur them on to play better. But I didn’t see that last week in Toronto. Coach Darris Kilgour questioned their heart last year, but this year might be worse. Swarm
PHI @ ROC Rochester seems to have found their groove after trading Casey Powell. Not that he was the cause of their problems, but moving him freed up the rest of their offense. That seems to have helped, adding Scott Self made a pretty good defense better, and Matt Vinc has been great all year. If anyone other than the Rush are getting hot at the right time, it might be the Knighthawks. Knighthawks
MIN @ PHI I had little confidence in the Wings before the season began, and there have been times where they’ve surprised me with how well they’ve played. But they’ve also had 20 goals scored against them twice this year and other than their early-season win over the Rock, all of their wins have come against teams below them in the standings. Like I said before, I’m still bullish on the Swarm – and that was before they destroyed the Wings last week. Swarm
ROC @ TOR Rochester played well in their game against the Rock last weekend, and as I said they seem to be getting hot at the right time. But the Rock really wanted to clinch the Eastern division title last weekend and the Knighthawks prevented that. They won’t want to let that happen again, particularly in their own building. Rock

Week 13 picks

Last week was my first above-.500 week since week 6. I was 2-1, missing only Edmonton’s victory over the Rock. Some tough picks this week though they should all be entertaining games. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the Bandits at the ACC and the Stealth-Roughnecks game as well.

Record: 22-30 (.423)




PHI @ MIN Philly needs to sweep this weekend to get into the playoffs, but as I said on the Pro Lacrosse Face-off show this week, I don’t see it happening. I’m still bullish on the Swarm, especially given their recent demolition of the Stealth. Swarm
BUF @ TOR I love when the Bandits come to town. The games are always physical, always exciting, always eventful. Of course, the Bandits have a winning record in Toronto, so much of the time the ending of the game isn’t so good for me. But the Rock are in first place and the Bandits have lost four in a row. So obviously the Rock will win. Cause that’s the way the NLL works, right? Rock5
PHI @ COL I originally had the Wings logo here, but I’ve changed my mind. The Wings have five wins but four of them have been against Rochester, Buffalo (2), and Colorado. Toronto (early in the season) is the only team above .500 they’ve beaten – and they’ve since been beaten by the Rock. Colorado had a lead last week and let it slip away but that’s par for the course for the Mammoth – they’re becoming known for taking one quarter off per game and in that one, it was the fourth. If they can put 4 solid quarters together, they can beat the Wings easily but even if they only play 3 I think they can still win. Mammoth
TOR @ ROC Rochester is playing for their playoff lives, so they won’t go quietly. Or will they? They’ve lost five of their past six at home and only hit double digits in the first of those six. They’ve also only played one game since the 2nd of March. Worse home offense in the league (8.3 goals per game at home!) against the third-best defense? I’ll risk looking like a homer and take the Rock. Rock
CAL @ WAS I can’t figure out the Stealth. They win 3 in a row, two of them with 16 goals, and then only score 5 against the Swarm? So which Stealth do we get this weekend? Meanwhile the Roughnecks have allowed 15+ goals in 5 of their last 6 games. The Roughnecks haven’t demonstrated the ability to hold back the top offensive teams, at least not in the second half of this season. I originally had Calgary for this game but I’ve switched this one too. Stealth

Week 11 picks

I tried something different this past week since the previous weeks hadn’t really gone so well. I reversed my picks – if I thought team A would win, I picked team B. I did this for all four games and after starting 0-2 (and thinking this was the dumbest idea I’d had in years), I went 2-0 in the last two games, thus ending the weekend 2-2 and rendering my experiment pointless.

This week I’m back to my regular picking strategy. Next year, I think it would be interesting to actually flip a coin each week and see how many people the coin can beat.

Record: 18-27 (.400)




BUF @ COL This one will be weird, since with all the injuries, trades, and suspensions, the entire game will be Tye Belanger and Anthony Cosmo lobbing the ball back and forth to each other, with John Grant and Mark Steenhuis trying to intercept the passes. Steve Dietrich will replace Cosmo in the fourth just because now he can. Bandits
WAS @ MIN Stealth fans yell at me when I pick the Stealth, which I guess is understandable given my overall record. But I’ve picked Washington to win 7 times this season, and they’ve won 4 of those games. So when I pick them, they win 57% of the time. That’s the highest percentage of any team in the league. You’re welcome. Stealth
TOR @ PHI Brandon Miller will not be playing this weekend (unless he appeals his suspension), so backup Kevin Croswell will be starting. But facing the backup goalie isn’t always the good news that you might think. Last year, the Rock faced Washington’s backup goalie when Tyler Richards was injured and he played a great game, giving the Stealth the win. That backup goalie was Kevin Croswell. Rock
EDM @ ROC Rochester now has Purves and Sullivan on their D – but both are suspended. They’ve also added defensive stud Scott Self who is not. They’ll be without Casey Powell, which I think is a good thing for their offense overall, but it might take a bit of time to reorganize. Edmonton has scored 14+ goals in 4 of the past 5 games and have won all four. Rush

Week 10 picks

OK, this is getting silly now. Parity is great and all, but what I wouldn’t give for a 2007 Knighthawks vs. 2004 Anaheim Storm game – at least it’d make one pick easy.

I went 2-3 last week, which isn’t bad, but it’s my third sub-.500 week in a row. People have started to ask me on twitter NOT to pick their team so I’m going to spin things around this week. I will make my picks, and then record the opposite. Sounds silly, but if I’d done that the rest of the year, I’d be 25-16, batting .610.

But I’m tellin’ ya, if this doesn’t work, I may not bother with the picks thing next season. Maybe I’ll just do Power Rankings. Anybody can do those.

Record: 16-25 (.390)




MIN @ CAL Despite their recent struggles, I still find it hard to pick against the Roughnecks. This combined with a Suitor-less Swarm who have also been struggling lately, and I think the Roughnecks will get back to their winning ways and take this one. So I’m picking the Swarm. Swarm
COL @ TOR Top team in the league against the bottom team in the league – no-brainer, right? Not exactly. With the weapons that the Mammoth have and the fact that they’re hungry to prove themselves and get out of the basement, they could be a dangerous team. That said, the Rock aren’t happy with their loss to Buffalo last week. Like the Roughnecks, I think the Rock will get back to form and take this one. So I’m picking the Mammoth. Mammoth
COL @ BUF Tough one. Both teams have superstar players that can be unmatched when they’re on their game, but if you get them rattled, their effectiveness drops significantly. Colorado’s is Grant, and Buffalo’s is Cosmo. If either one of these guys is off his game, the other team’s likelihood of winning skyrockets. I’m not saying that Grant will be off his game, but I liked how Buffalo played last Thursday against the Rock so as long as they can avoid a fourth quarter collapse like they did against Philly (and like the Rock did against them), I think Buffalo can take it. So I’m picking the Mammoth. Mammoth
WAS @ PHI Hmmm… Philly’s won 3 in a row, Washington’s won 2. BMiller vs. TRich. Crowley, Buchanan and Ross vs. Duch, Ratcliff, and Iannucci. Reynolds vs. Snider. This is a close one, but Philly has surprised me too often this season to pick them to lose again. So I’m picking the Stealth. Stealth

NLL mid-season report: West division

The East consists of one really good team, a couple of good ones and one struggling, but the west is much more even. Last year we had two great teams, two good teams, and the Stealth. This year it’s more like five pretty good teams. Nobody is head and shoulders above the rest, and nobody is terrible – not even the last place Mammoth. Blah blah parity blah blah…


Roughnecks Calgary Roughnecks

Offense: A+

First in goals scored per game by more than a full goal. There are two Roughnecks in the top ten in scoring including #1 and five in the top twenty-one. Averaging 1.2 shorthanded goals per game. Have only scored less than 11 goals once, and they won that game. Scored 16+ four times in ten games. Best offense in the league – only the Toronto Rock is close.

Defense: C

7th in goals allowed per game, so they’re winning lots of high-scoring games. Only given up less than 10 twice, but have given up 16+ in each of the last four games and 15 in one other (though they won two of those). Poulin hasn’t looked like Poulin – in Calgary’s last three losses, he’s allowed 16 goals on 48 shots, 13 on 46, and 14 on 37. He’s 7th among starters in GAA and 9th in Save %.

Overall: A

Still my pick to win the West, though I’m reconsidering. After coming up with grades for the Rush, I had to think about which of the two I would rank higher. I eventually settled on giving each of them an A.


Mammoth Colorado Mammoth

Offense: D

Tied with the Knighthawks for 7th in goals per game. Grant is tied for 7th in points, then Prout at 16th. In terms of points per game, Grant is 3rd, Prout 13th, and Jones 17th. Of their top 10 scorers in 2012, 6 of them are down in points/game this year, two (MacLeod, McBride, Coates) are slightly up, and one (Hopcroft) is gone.

You couldn’t expect Junior’s production to stay at the 8.3 points per game he had last year (he’s down to 5.8), but as he’s dropped, so has just about everyone else. Derek Hopcroft was traded for a 5th round pick and is on the Bandits’ practice roster and playing in CLax. Jamie Shewchuk is sitting at home. First round draft pick Colton Clark has played in one game. They’ve been so focused on their goaltending situation that they have done nothing to shake up their offense. They’re just not clicking this year. This was the top scoring team in the league last season.

Defense: D-

Dead last in goals allowed per game with 13.8. They’re way worse at home (14.2) than on the road (13). They released Chris Levis after a terrible start and gave Matt Roik the keys. Then they released him and are trying Minnesota’s rookie-twin-terror strategy – Lewis and Belanger had a combined 30 minutes of NLL experience before this season. It worked for the Swarm last year, though not so much this year. Can it save the Mammoth’s season? Seems like a long shot.

Overall: D-

At the halfway point, there are no two ways about it: the Mammoth are the worst team in the league. But they’re not that different personnel-wise from the contending team they were last year. A little confidence and they could start winning but they need the wins to get the confidence.


Rush Edmonton Rush

Offense: A

Wow, this Mark Matthews kid just came out of nowhere! Who saw this coming? Oh wait, everybody did. Matthews leads the league in goals scored and is tied for 7th in points. The team is 2nd in goals per game and has three players in the top 13 scorers. When have you been able to say that about the Rush before? Matthews is the offensive star the Rush have never had, and he’s turned a decent offense into a great one. The Rush have scored 18 twice, 15 twice (though they lost one) and 14 twice.

Defense: A

2rd in goals allowed per game. The Rush are giving up less than 10 goals per game in away games. They’ve given up 10 or fewer goals in six games out of ten. Aaron Bold is 4th among starters in GAA, though only 8th in save %.

Overall: A

Last year, the Rush were decent offense and great defense. This year the defense is just as good but the offense is so much better.


Swarm Minnesota Swarm

Offense: B-

5th in goals per game. They’ve scored less than 10 goals in a game only three times. Ryan Benesch is 6th in points per game, Callum Crawford is 8th (but has missed 2 games), Shayne Jackson is 28th and Kiel Matisz is 30th. The next player is Jordan MacIntosh way down at 50th so it seems that the Big Four do pretty much all the scoring.

Defense: D

The Swarm are 6th in goals allowed per game; only Colorado and Calgary are higher. Strangely, the Swarm have given up an average of 2 more goals per game at home than on the road. The experiment with two young goalies that worked so well last year isn’t going so well this year. Both Evan Kirk and Tyler Carlson have GAA over 14, ranking them 9th (Carlson) and 10th (Kirk) among starters, and they are 6th (Carlson) and 7th (Kirk) in save percentage.

Overall: C+

I expected a lot from the Swarm this year – I picked them to finish second in the west. Right now they’re fourth and with captain Andrew Suitor out for the year, I have to wonder if the Swarm are already done. I was on a roundtable last week with the guys from LaxDirt.com and most of the panel believed that the loss of Suitor will be too much for this young team to handle and that they’ll be the team that finishes out of the playoffs. I’m not sure I’m ready to write the team off quite yet, but with all he does for the team, Suitor will be a tough guy to replace.


Stealth Washington Stealth

Offense: B

Right in the middle, at 4th in goals per game. I was about to say that “Rhys Duch is having a great year” but when I look over his points per game averages over his career, I found this:

    Season Points Points per game
    2009 89 5.56
    2010 86 5.38
    2011 90 5.63
    2012 (14 games) 79 5.64
    2013 (10 games) 57 5.70

Look at the points per game – talk about Mr. Consistency. Duch missed two games in 2012 and his total extrapolates to 90 points over 16 games, and this year he’s on a pace for 91. So yes, Duch is having a great year but not significantly better than his previous great years.

Duch is fourth in the league in points per game, while Iannucci and Ratcliff are 21st and 24th respectively. Cliff Smith is having a career year – he has 32 points in 10 games so far. He started the season with 44 career points in 33 games over four seasons.

Defense: B-

Also right in the middle, 4th in goals allowed per game. In their four losses, they’ve allowed 18, 15, 15, and 7 goals. OK, we’ll give the defense a pass on that last one. Tyler Richards is having a much better season than last year, with a GAA lower by more than two. Last year, Richards’ GAA was twelfth among starters last year. Twelfth is not great in a 9-team league. This year, he’s second. Nick Patterson had a 16.81 GAA but was released last week, replaced with former Mammoth Matt Roik.

Overall: A-

The goal for the Stealth in 2013 was (a) forget 2012 and (b) win Championship. Perhaps they thought about it in the other order but I think (a) had to be done before (b) was possible. At 5-4 and second in the West, they haven’t clinched a playoff berth yet but I think they’ve been successful in getting (a) accomplished. But (b) will be a bigger challenge.

Similar to the Bandits, their overall grade is higher than their offensive or defensive grades. Can’t argue with first in the West, though given how the Rush have been playing and how the Roughnecks should be playing, I’m not sure I’d count on the Stealth still being in first at the end of the season.

The NLL Pronunciation Guide v2.0

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on the NLL Blog listing a bunch of NLL players with difficult-to-pronounce names and how to say them correctly. Apparently it is not yet required reading for NLL play-by-play guys, since I still frequently hear names being mispronounced. But there are a number of new players in the league now, so it’s time for an update. Some of these have been confirmed by the players themselves via twitter – thanks to Frankie Scigliano, Jaeden Gastaldo, Kurtis Wagar, and Neil Tyacke for responding and confirming how to say their names properly.

I’ve grouped them by team and alphabetically.


Chad Culp – CHAD CULP
John Harasym – HAIR-a-sim.
Mat Giles – JYLES
Alex Kedoh Hill – KEE-dough
Tracey Kelusky – kuh-LUH-skee. Not kuh-LOO-skee.
Steve Priolo – pree-O-lo
Jimmy Purves – PURR-vis
John Tavares – If you can’t say his last name, you are obviously not a lacrosse fan. Why are you reading this article? But for completeness, it’s tuh-VAR-ez.
Jay Thorimbert – I would have expected THOR-im-bear but I believe it’s THOR-im-bert.
Dhane Smith – DANE
Mark Steenhuis – STAIN-house
Kurtis Wagar – WAY-ger. Attention Buffalo announcers: not WAG-ner.


Kevin Buchanan – byu-CAN-in
CJ Costabile – COST-a-bull
Pat Heim – HIGHm
Paul Rabil – RAY-bull
Brian Tueber – TOOB-er
Drew Westervelt – WEST-er-velt
Chad Wiedmaier – Could not get confirmation. I’d have said WEED-myer but the NLL Pronunciation Guide* says it’s weed-MAY-er.

* – Yes, the NLL Pronunciation Guide is a real thing, though there are a few mistakes in it. No idea if this is one of them.


Mike Accursi – uh-CUR-see
Stephen Keogh – KEY-o
Ian Llord – la-LORD. No, I’m not serious. It’s just LORD.
Matt Vinc – Like VINCE, not VINK
Cory Vitarelli – VIT-a-RELL-ee


Kasey Beirnes – BEERns
Stephan Leblanc – STEFF-in la-BLONK
Brendan Thenhaus – I had TEN-house originally but I believe it’s TAIN-house. Like Steenhuis without the first ‘S’.


Dane Dobbie – DOUGH-bee. Not like Dobby.
Joe Resatarits – res-a-TARE-its
Frankie Scigliano – SHIL-ee-ANN-o
Geoff Snider – SNY-der. Not SHNY-der.
Kaleb Toth – KAY-leb TOE-th. My biggest pet peeve – he played 11 seasons in Calgary and I still hear people (even Calgary announcers!) talk about Kaleb TAW-th.


Joey Cupido – cuh-PEE-dough
Ilija Gajic – ILL-ee-ya GUY-ch
John Gallant – gull-ANT
Jaeden Gastaldo – JAY-den guh-STALL-dough
Chet Koneczny – kon-EZ-nee
Eric Martin – Just like it looks, presumably. I asked a Colorado fan and he just lowered his head and whispered “We do not speak his name.”
Sean Pollock – SHAWN POLL-ick
Creighton Reid – CRAY-ton REED


Chris Corbeil – cor-BEEL
Brett Mydske – MID-skee


Mitch Belisle – buh-LYLE
Ryan Benesch – buh-NESH
Nic Bilic – Nick BIL-ich. Oddly, Jake Elliott (Swarm play-by-play guy) acknowledges that he knows this but says it “BIL-ik” anyway.
Callum Crawford – CAL-um. Attention Edmonton announcers: not CAY-lum
Alex Crepinsek – CREP-in-sek
Kiel Matisz – Just like it looks. (Sigh) OK, fine. It’s KYLE muh-TEEZ
Corbyn Tao – COR-bin TOW (last name rhymes with COW). Attention Washington announcer: not TAY-o.


Rhys Duch – REES DUTCH
Billy Hostrawser – HOS-trouser
Athan Iannucci – EYE-uh-NOOCH-ee
Justin Pychel – PITCH-el
Bob Snider – SNY-der. Remarkably similar to that of Geoff Snider.
Neil Tyacke – TY-ack. Rhymes with kayak.


Steve Bermel – BURR-mull. Rhymes with “thermal”. Bandits writer for IL Indoor.
Jamie Dawick – DOW-ick. (DOW rhymes with COW like Corbyn Tao. Sounds like that sentence should be in a rap song somewhere) Owner of the Rock.
Marisa Ingemi – muh-RISS-uh in-JEM-ee. Runs the show over at InLacrosseWeTrust.com.
Darris Kilgour – DARRIS KILL-gore. Not DAR-ee-us. Buffalo head coach.
Johnny Mouradian – moor-RAD-ee-an. Philadelphia GM & head coach.
Graeme Perrow – GRAY-um PEAR-o. The most knowledgeable lacrosse mind of our generation whose first name is Graeme. Or at least in the top ten of Graeme’s.
Grant Spies – SPEEZ. NLL ref.
Tim Then – THEN. I dunno, some guy that tweeted me.

Week 9 picks

OK, so that sucked. I went 0-5 last week as Edmonton and Minnesota each won in the other’s barn, the Wings pulled off a couple of wins, and the Stealth grabbed a first-place tie in the West. Every team is in action this weekend (and this week, since Toronto and Buffalo play a rare Thursday night game), and the Bandits play twice.

Record: 14-22 (.389)




BUF @ TOR Buffalo has a winning record in Toronto, but the Rock are the top team in the league right now. If Cosmo plays like he did two weeks ago this could be a tough one for the Rock. Nick Rose has allowed 12, 13, and 12 goals in their last three games so he might have to take it up a notch, especially with John Tavares returning. Rock
PHI @ BUF Both teams are 4-3, both 2-2 at home. Buffalo has scored two more goals and allowed one more than Philly. Couldn’t really get more even. I’ll give this one to Buffalo because they’re at home. Bandits
EDM @ CAL The Roughnecks have lost two of their last three but this is their first home game in a few weeks. I think Calgary is still the team to beat in the West. Roughnecks
ROC @ COL The loser of this game will have the worst record in the league. The Knighthawks have gone from the Championship game to the basement in one year. Where have we heard that before? And this is after adding Casey Powell and Dan Dawson to their lineup. And yet, I still can’t bet against them… Knighthawks
MIN @ WAS Speaking of Championship game to the basement in one year, now the Stealth are trying to go the other direction in one year. I’m not sure they can get all the way there, but in a one-and-done playoff format, anything’s possible. Meanwhile, the Swarm have lost their captain for the rest of the season. How will this young team handle the loss of their leader? Stealth

Faceoff dominance: Does it help you win?

Over the last decade or so, a few players have stood out as excellent face-off men. Washington’s Bob Snider and his brother, Calgary’s Geoff Snider, are the cream of the crop right now, and in recent years Peter Jacobs, Jamie Hanford, and Jamison Koesterer have also made names for themselves in the circle. But does it really matter?

Logic says yes. When you win a face-off, you gain possession and in lacrosse, possession is everything. If you win 75-80% of your face-offs, as the Snider boys do with regularity, that’s 10-15 extra possessions per game for your team, and at least a few of those have to translate into goals, right? But do the stats bear that out? As we frequently do on this blog, let’s look at the numbers and see if they support something that “everybody knows”.


For those of you who don’t care to look at the actual numbers, here’s the “too long; didn’t read” version: Yes, but not by very much. Feel free to skip to the conclusion now.

The numbers

I only have sufficient stats for the 2012 season, so we’ll have to restrict the numbers to that season. There were 72 games played during the regular season, and therefore 72 winners. Three of the 72 games finished with a tie in faceoffs, so we won’t count those three. Of the 69 remaining games, the winning team led in faceoffs 39 times (56.5%). This means that in 30 of the games (43.5%), the winning team won fewer faceoffs than the losing team.

So it looks like winning the faceoff battle does give you a slight edge. But let’s look even further. If we look at games where one team really dominated the faceoffs, say winning 70% or more, we find the opposite. There were 28 such games last year, and the team that won the faceoff battle only won 13 (46%) of them. Of the 15 games where the losing team won 70% or more of the faceoffs, the teams break down like this: Washington 8, Philadelphia 3, Calgary 3, and Minnesota 1. The Stealth lost eight games (and won three) while winning 70+% of the faceoffs.

Of course, this is a strange case – the team with the best face-off man in the league and the worst record. This is also the record of one team over only 16 games. Calgary, for example, went 5-3 in games where they won 70+% of faceoffs. Even if we look at the season as a whole, that one team dominates so much that the numbers are too skewed to be meaningful. Not surprisingly, we can’t honestly say that winning 70% of the faceoffs means you’re less likely to win the game.


The conclusion to all of this is that during the 2012 season, teams won 56.5% of games in which they won more faceoffs than their opponents. I’ve done the calculations for the 2013 season as well (less than half over), and through 31 games (one game tied), everything is exactly 50-50 – winning teams have also led in faceoffs 50% of the time.

This tells me that winning the battle of the faceoffs does give your team a greater chance to win, but not by as much as you might think.