I don’t know if you’ve been listening to the BlogTalk Radio show I’ve been doing with Marisa Ingemi of InLaxWeTrust. If you have been, thank you. It’s been a lot of fun and Marisa does a great job of running the show. Last week I was on for 15 minutes talking about the Eastern Conference and then Teddy Jenner of ILIndoor came on for 15 minutes to talk Western Conference. We also went through our picks for the weekend and surprise, surpise, I was 4 for 4. Nailed it. Overall on the season, I’m 18-10 with my picks. Not bad for an ignorant Yank!
There were only four games last weekend and the Toronto-Boston game got top billing. These are two of the better teams in the NLL and they had already played to a thrilling 15-14 OT win for Toronto earlier in the year. The rematch didn’t quite live up to the first game, but very few games will ever live up to that one. It was an instant classic. The most recent game saw Boston establish itself in the second quater with 5 goals to Toronto’s 1 and it was good to see Boston put some points up in the first quarter.
It was also good to see Casey Powell shooting AND making the tough passes. He didn’t put a ton of his shots in the goal, only scoring once, but he did add 5 assists and a number of other players got involved in Boston’s scoring. Ryan Powell added 4 assists and Kevin BuCannon (that’s his new name since he shoots the crap out of the ball) had 3 goals. One of which came from what seemed like MLL 2 point range. Hand Cannon. Boston also did a nice job of pressing Toronto when the Rock was on offense and giving Cosmo time to find shooters. When Boston sits back, they can get themselves in trouble, but when they press, they can play with anyone.
Toronto seemed to struggle with the pressure as their usually crisp passing looked out of step almost all night. Garrett Billings went 3 and 1 and Bob Watson was actually really solid in net but it wasn’t enough as the rest of the Rock didn’t really play their A-game. Both Manning and Doyle struggled to put the ball away and I think that proved to be the difference maker.
Minnesota played Buffalo and the Bandits used their experience to control this game from start to finish. Minnesota has athleticism, talent and good goaltending but they also showed a bit of team immaturity as they were never really able to get back in this game after Buffalo put up a big 1st quarter. The Bandits were up by 3 at the end of 1, 4 at the half, and 5 goals at the end up 3.
Minnesota was playing catch up all night and Patterson only made it through about 25 minutes of play before being replaced by Kevin Croswell, who did well but not great in Patterson’s place. Thenhaus (1,4), Steenhuis (3,1), Tavares (2,6), and Vyse (1,4) all did the work you’d expect from them while Chad Culp added 3 goals and 2 assists. For Minnesota, Ryan Benesch kept proving what a great acquisition he was in the off-season with a 3 goal and 4 assist effort on the night.
Needless to say, Brandon Francis got in a fight. Dude loves fisticuffs. Of course, Rory Smith can take care of himself.
Rochester methodically took down the Philadelphia Wings this weekend. Vinc played well for the Knighthawks in net and Cody Jamieson and Craig Point were threats all night. Point’s first goal of the game was an insane outside blast. Definitely worth two points. Jordan Hall was also a very welcome returner for the KHawks as he added 3 goals, lots of hustle and another dynamic scorer. Gary Gait retired again. I got tired of Brett Favre retiring all the time, but Gary could do it for another 10 years and I’d be ok with it. Any chance to listen to that guy speak is great so if he needs to retire 10 more times to make it happen then fine. All that and Evans scored one of the better goals I’ve seen all year. Good night for Rochester!
Athan Ianucci ran the show on offense for Philly and even though he went for 2 goals and 3 assists, I still think they focus on him too much. Boston struggled when Casey Powell was doing it all and I think Philly will do the same until they move the ball a bit more. Mundorf is a great initiator and I’d love to see Ianucci playing a bit higher. Westervelt could play his low role pretty well on the right hand side. Keep Turner low on the left and you could have a decent O. More ball movement is needed for Philly to keep away from multiple game slide.
Finally, Washington beat Colorado 10-8. Washington is starting to look better as is Colorado. Both of these teams seem to be pulling their squads together and making changes to stay competitive. For example, Paul Rabil has taken on the new role of enforcer, and leads the team in penalty minutes. Duch, Wiles, Ratcliff, and Johnson are getting it done on offense and having a number of guys who can score has helped the Stealth get through injuries and slumping players.
John Grant Junior and Brian Langtry each put up 5 points but Colorado will need more production from Jamie Shewchcuk, Alex Gajic or Mike McCllelan to really compete. They are pretty good on defense and transition but Chris Levis causes me some concern in net. I just don’t know if he has what it takes to be a starter on a team that’s going to make a real run at a title.
For me, the big news was Connor Martin getting his first NLL game experience. Yup, that long-haired, leaping gnome is playing for the Mammoth and while box traditionalists and haters may doubt him, I liked what I saw. He still seems a little out of it on offense from a team perspective but that will come. He took 6 shots and while none of them went in, they were all on cage. The shots were good, hard overhand rips for the most part, and I got the feeling like he was trying to force the ball by the keepers instead of placing it right in a corner and taking some mustard off it. I definitely think by the end of the season Martin could be a real player for Colorado. I also love that he’s a forward and not a transition player. The kid can definitely score, just let him adjust!
Here are the standings as the teams currently sit:
Toronto Rock 4-2
Buffalo Bandits 3-2
Rochester Knighthawks 3-2
Boston Blazers 4-3
Philadelphia Wings 3-3
Calgary Roughnecks 4-2
Minnesota Swarm 3-2
Washington Stealth 3-3
Colorado Mammoth 1-4
Edmonton Rush 0-5