It was an exciting week one in the NLL – Two close games and a shocking upset!
The Knighthawks raised their second consecutive Champions Cup banner, and then proceeded to down the Swarm 8-6 at Blue Cross Arena. Edmonton was able to hold on to a close win over Colorado in front of nearly 16,000 fans. The Philadelphia Wings made a loud and clear statement that they are not going to roll over this season as they topped the newly revamped Buffalo Bandits on the road.
Rochester managed to win even though they were out shot by Minnesota 51-34. It helps when you have Matt Vinc in net. It is evident that Minnesota is going to be deadly in transition. They have many talented and very fast transition players. The Swarm are also going to be tough to stop in the offensive zone as well. Minnesota has many promising young stars that are going to put up monster numbers this year. Tyler Carlson has stepped into the leading role in Minnesota and has handled the starting job well. After early exits in the past two playoffs, Minnesota is hungry for a championship.
Rochester picked up right where they left off last season – winning games. Last season Rochester limped through the start of the regular season and greased their way into the playoffs. This is not going to be the case this year; they are going to be a powerhouse team throughout the season. The defense is strong and the offense has really started clicking. Rochester has their sights set on the first ever three-peat in NLL/MILL history.
Edmonton was able to hang on for a gutsy win over Colorado. The Mammoth are going to be one of the older teams in the league this year. It will be interesting to see how the legs will hold up throughout the extended season and smaller rosters. One of the main storylines from this game is when Colorado pulled starting net minder Tye Belanger for rookie Dillon Ward. Ward played outstanding and stopped 10-12 shots. I have a feeling it may not be too long before we start seeing more of Ward.
Edmonton played well and will likely be another favorite for the playoffs. Even with the loss of some of their key scorers, the Rush managed to put up 13 goals. The Rush are going to have to rely on scoring by committee if they want to be successful this year. The Rush also did well on face offs, as Jeremy Thompson managed to go 50% at the dot, and minimizing face off guru Bob Snider to only 15 face off wins.
Philadelphia shocked the lacrosse world when they beat the Buffalo Bandits last Saturday night in Buffalo. The Wings are going to be right in the mix of things this season. The front office of the Wings has found the perfect balance of talented Canadian scorers paired with young, athletic, American defenders. The Evan Kirk and Tracey Kelusky additions are already paying off. Kelusky finished with 2 goals and 4 assists, and Evan Kirk made 39 stops in the win.
Mark Steenhuis had a big night for the Bandits; he scored two goals and chipped in three helpers. Giving Steenhuis more opportunities out the front door will pay dividends to Buffalo. The Bandits are going to have to put all the pieces together if they want to win this year.
Calgary Roughnecks @ Toronto Rock
Mark Donahue – Calgary Roughnecks: “I’m very excited to see Curtis Dickson and Shawn Evans hit the floor this year. The Rock do well with home turf advantage, but I think the Roughnecks will be a force to be reckoned with. Garrett Billings and Colin Doyle bring a ton of heat to the other side of the floor so the Calgary D will have to step up big to take the win. I see this as a more of a run and gun shootout, having the last possession could win this game.”
Chris Rosenthall – Toronto Rock: “When both teams are playing for the first time, I pick based on a strong defense & home crowd.”
Ryan Connors – Calgary Roughnecks: “This game is going to be too close to call. In dead-locked battles like these, I usually pick the team with better special teams. However, this is the first game of the season so it’s a toss-up – going with the Riggers.”
Connor Wilson – Toronto Rock: “I usually tend to like the Rock, especially in the regular season!”
Vancouver Stealth @ Colorado Mammoth
Mark Donahue – Colorado Mammoth: “Although I expect the Stealth to do very well this season, I think Grant and company will figure it out in their second game. Vancouver hasn’t had the chance to get a game under their belt yet this season and Colorado still has the taste of blood in their mouth from being unable to close the gap with Edmonton. I expect it to be very close do to the new life in BC, but the Mammoth should get the W in the Pepsi Center.”
Chris Rosenthall – Colorado Mammoth: “Even though it was a loss, already having one game under their belts could be a big advantage for the Mammoth.”
Ryan Connors – Colorado Mammoth: “It is very hard to believe Colorado will lose two in a row. Junior and Westy are going to light it up.”
Connor Wilson – Colorado Mammoth: “Colorado rights the ship, gets on track with a W, and Junior goes off. Or they don’t and I go 0-5. It could happen.”
Fantasy: I’ll start off and say that I made the bonehead play of the week. I started Toronto goalies… and Toronto wasn’t playing! Not a good start to the fantasy season for me. I still managed 81 points – my big winner was Tracy Kelusky. I had a few steals with Johnny Powless, Joe Walters, and CJ Constabile.
This week was a little bit tougher. My sleeper picks are Jamie Lincoln and Alex Gajic. I have a good feeling about Gajic, he is a big body that is going to cause problems on the offensive end. Here is a look at my roster this week.
Remember to let us know who your picks and fantasy rosters are this week. Tweet us @connors36 and don’t forget to reach out to us on Google+ and leave us a comment.
Correct Picks Running Tally:
Connor Wilson (0-3)
Chris Rosenthall (2-1)
Mark Donahue (2-1)
Ryan Connors (2-1)