Jesse King Anthony Cosmo Buffalo Bandits Georgia Swarm NLL 2016 Photo: Micheline V
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NLL Update: Rock Finally Win, Stealth Revenge OT, Bandits Drop Two + More!

Editor’s Note: Thanks to the help of the innovative team at SISU Guard, the Official Mouthguard of the NLL, we’ve beefing up our National Lacrosse League coverage for 2016! We hope you enjoy our look at the NLL season through a new lens with the aid of our partner SISU!

Holy guacamole the Toronto Rock are in the win column! There’s only 4 games to cover from Week 8, but we’ve got to say there were a lot of exciting things happening around the NLL to get to. Not only did the Rock win, Rosey punched in the season’s 1st goalie goal, the Stealth climbed out of last, Buffalo took two to the chin and Saskatchewan put on a show in front of a packed out arena.

Here’s how it’s going down, Ryan Conwell will bring you up to speed on Buffalo’s loss to the Rock and their win over the Swarm. I will be handling the pair of game out west, the Knighthawks at Rush and Roughnecks at Stealth. Let’s get going…

Buffalo Bandits (3-4) @ Toronto Rock (1-6)

1 2 3 4 TOTAL
Buffalo 2 4 3 3 12
Toronto 0 5 4 5 14
50 16 68 14-30 3-6
58 16 71 16-30 2-9

Quick Thoughts


OK, maybe I am overreacting a little bit, but the monkey is officially off the back of the defending Eastern Division champs.  When the season started, this team was really struggling, but over the past few games it really seemed like they had themselves together and just couldn’t catch a break.  Were they playing like the best team in the league? No. Were they playing like an 0-6 team? Also no.  The Rock finally were able to put an entire game together and scored a huge win over their cross border rivals in front of a home crowd.  From this point on, it at least changes the conversation to how they can climb the standings instead of if they can win a game.

Toronto Notes

Toronto Rock Buffalo Bandits NLL 2016 Photo: Graig Abel
Photo: Graig Abel

This game did not start out in favor of the Rock. While they did only allow just two goals by Buffalo in the first quarter, they were unable to generate any offense of their own. Once the second quarter came around, the Rock rolled off four straight goals to take the lead. The Bandits would answer back with four of their own, but Toronto was able to prevent Buffalo from going on another run for the rest of the game.

Josh Sanderson showed he already has his 2015 form back by scoring a goal to go with his 6 assists on the night, leading his team in points. Rob Hellyer and Kasey Beirnes each had a hat trick with Hellyer also having three assists. Overall, the forwards were effective in their even number sets, but they still can improve quite a bit on their power play. They only had two power play goals despite nine opportunities.

The one who really stole the show for Toronto was goalie Nick Rose. He had a good night stopping the ball with 38 saves and finished with around a 76% save percentage.

Toronto Rock Buffalo Bandits NLL 2016 Photo: Graig Abel
Photo: Graig Abel

What really did it for Rose though was scoring a goalie goal! As Buffalo sent an extra attacker forward to try to come back while down 13-11 with under two minutes left, Rosie grabbed a loose ball in the crease and sent it the other way in to the empty net.

It’s been reported that even with the history as rich as Toronto’s, this was the first goalie score for the franchise.

Buffalo Notes

Toronto Rock Buffalo Bandits NLL 2016 Photo: Graig Abel
Photo: Graig Abel

For the Bandits, they definitely did not want to be the first team to lose to the Rock. It is too hard to fault their offense as 12 goals is more than respectable and not far off from their season average. Dhane Smith was his normal productive self, leading all scorers with four goals and four assists. Ryan Benesch was not far behind either, with three goals and four assists. Where the Bandits did not get much help in scoring was actually from their transition game. They did get a handful of assists from their defenders, but virtually no shots, which is a bit of an outlier for this team.

Davide DiRuscio had the start in net and actually recorded more saves (44) and had a better percentage (77%) than Rose for Toronto. What did hurt Buffalo a bit more than usual was typically reliable Jay Thorimbert turning in one of his worst nights in the faceoff department all year, finishing just under 50%.

Toronto Rock Buffalo Bandits NLL 2016 Photo: Graig Abel
Photo: Graig Abel

When looking at this game for Buffalo, it was just an average performance more than anything.  They didn’t really play well to win, but they didn’t play terribly, either. It was a bad combination for running into an extremely hungry and motivated team in a rivalry game.

Roc Knighthawks (3-3) @ Sask Rush (4-2)

1 2 3 4 TOTAL
Rochester 1 3 2 2 8
Sask 7 2 0 2 11
37 21 80 14-22 2-4
58 17 85 8-22 2-8

Quick Thoughts

  • Battle of the world’s best goalies didn’t disappoint
  • From O Canada on, the SaskTel Centre was rocking!
  • 16 minutes of penalty time really hurt Rochester

A first quarter flurry of goals for the Rush gave the home team and early lead that took another 45 minutes of preventative defense to maintain. Right around 11k lacrosse fans packed into their new barn, the biggest showing to date in Saskatoon, to cheer the Rush on to their 3rd home victory of 2016. Only two goals were scored in the second half by the winning side, how does that happen? Scoring 8 answered goals, that’s how!

Rochester Notes

The Knighthawks consistently struggled throughout the entire game to make any sort of offensive magic happen on the 5v5.  After Joe Walters sniped the first goal of the night around Thompson, nailing the net far-side, the Rush made it a point to put on a clinic in front of their rowdy home crowd. The entire team played in concrete boots, allowing a 7 goal run from their opposition. They sat for 4 minutes in the 1st frame, which the Rush capitalized on both opportunities.

After the Rush started the quarter with another strike, on the powerplay Dan Dawson took on the responsibility and stepped in, picking top corner to shorten the lead to 6. A minute later Cody Jamieson would get one past Bold. Despite Jammer’s 1 goal, 4 assist night, the offense stayed fairly stagnant all evening. It would be Jamieson hitting Dawson on the following powerplay for Dawson’s 2nd, the team’s 3rd, score of the game. Taking another punch from Saskatchewan, the Hawks rolled into the half down 9-4.

Rochester Kinghthaws Saskatchewan Rush NLL 2016 Photo: Calvin So
Photo: Calvin So

The only action in the entire 3rd quarter came from a pair of unsettled goal from captain Sid Smith, right after a nice hit on Lintz, and forward Joe Resetarits and a pair of minor penalties the defense was successfully able to kill off. Cutting the difference to only 3, the Rush struck again leaving the next two goals from Dawson, the only Rochester scores in the 4th, shy of knotting tying the game before an empty-net goal would finalize the night. Resetarits would be the go-to guy against Thompson on the draws, winning a positive 14 0f 22. Another Thompson was in the game, Ty Thompson made his NLL debut in Rochester. He came up with no stats other than 4 shots, 3 on goal.

Despite the 7 goal streak (1 against Goodleaf) in the 1st quarter and getting pulled momentarily, Matt Vinc played fairly strong between the pipes. He outweighed rival Bold by 18 saves, blocking 47 total, a game-high 16 coming from various spots on the floor in the treacherous 1st 15 minutes. Dawson and Jamieson were essentially it for the offense, Keogh, Walters and the rest of the potentially deadly forwards need to get it together to help this team jump out to a lead instead of chasing games to the final minutes.

Saskatchewan Notes

Rochester Kinghthaws Saskatchewan Rush NLL 2016 Photo: Calvin So
Photo: Calvin So

The Hawks were on the board first, but textbook transition play led to a 3 on 2 with defensive duo Ryan Dilks and Chris Corbeil exchanging but unable to bury, but the rebound went straight to a trailing Jeff Cornwall, collecting, tiptoeing and burying his 3rd of the season. Saskatoon would continue to push the tempo early on, after a few stones by Vinc, the opportunities began to fall. Team-leader Mark Matthews found his 2nd of the season on a step down crank from his sweet spot on the powerplay followed quickly by Ben McIntosh with a rip just like Matthews’ seconds before.

Minutes later Brett Mydske connected with McIntosh for a breakaway goal pushing the lead, 4-1. Not to have show stolen away, Curtis Knight shows up and knocks down the Vinc pulling goal. Staring down fresh meat, Zack Greer then came in to fake the goalie out of his pads, extending the streak to 6. Robert Church would then collect his 2nd point of the night so far on a powerplay goal at then end of the quarter with the 7th unanswered goal.

The only 3 penalties of the game for the Rush all came in the 2nd quarter, 7 of the 9 minutes charged to Nik Bilic for an elbow and hold that would cost them a pair of goals. The lockdown defense was able to keep the pain from being worse and remained consistent, allowing no more than 2 goals in a quarter for the rest of the game. Bilic’s major to start the 2nd quarter would be a wash for the rush as they exchanged goals, Corbeil running one down short-handed. The Rush wouldn’t score for nearly 8 more minutes, giving u 3 Rochester goals in the middle. Matthews rang up his 2nd of the evening with a sidearm bouncer to lead into halftime, ahead 9-4.

Rochester Kinghthaws Saskatchewan Rush NLL 2016 Photo: Calvin So
Photo: Calvin So

They got the job done with 7 unanswered goals in the 1st quarter, but the sticks didn’t stay hot in Saskatchewan for all 60 minutes. In the 2nd half, it was the Knighthawks doing to the scoring, but only twice per quarter, as the Rush cruised out the final half hour of gameplay. With a 9-6 lead going into the 4th, Greer made sure things didn’t get too close, scoring 23 seconds in on the 1st offensive set of the quarter. A pair of Dawson goals wouldn’t be enough for the Hawks and the deal was sealed with Kyle Rubisch rolling one in for the 11-8 victory.

Aaron Bold once again stood tall for the entire 60 minutes, although he didn’t get much action early on, saving 4 of the mere 5 shots on goal in the 1st quarter. He finished with 29 total saves, helping the defense achieve a low of 8 GAA and the 3rd time this season they’ve limited opponents to less than 40 shots on cage.

Georgia Swarm (4-4) @ Buffalo Bandits (4-4)

1 2 3 4 TOTAL
Georgia 3 5 3 8 19
5 5 2 3 15
73 16 87 18-39 3-5
57 14 80 21-39 3-5

Quick Thoughts

  • Georgia’s really shaky at the goalie position
  • Buffalo had control and then lost it
  • It was just a bad weekend for Buffalo

Usually, I’ll favor the team who is playing their second game of the weekend, especially when that second game is at home.  Buffalo was coming off a tough loss to Toronto and it was not much a travel day between the two venues. Honestly, for most of this game, I had no idea how Georgia was in it. The pace seemed to favor Buffalo and they looked like the crisper team, but Georgia managed to keep up with them as the game wore on. Then, with about ten minutes left in the game, the Buffalo defense played some pretty uninspired lacrosse. The Swarm were scoring goals while flat footed Bandits players were left standing. The end result saw the Swarm avenge their loss to the Bandits from a week ago.

Georgia Notes

Jesse King Anthony Cosmo Buffalo Bandits Georgia Swarm NLL 2016 Photo: Micheline V
Photo: Micheline V

Due to some incredibly physical play early on, the penalty boxes for both teams were packed to start the game. This worked in Buffalo’s favor as they gave up three of Buffalo’s five goals while man down. After a few early goals in the second quarter, the Swarm pulled goalie Brodie MacDonald in favor of Zach Higgins. Higgins finished well on the night, right around 80% and also stuffed Buffalo’s Dhane Smith on an ever-so-rare penalty shot. Despite this performance, defense for the Swarm is a growing area of concern. Neither goalie is recording great save numbers on the year and they have only held two opponents to under 10 goals all season.

Joel White Zach Higgins Buffalo Bandits Georgia Swarm NLL 2016 Photo: Micheline V
Photo: Micheline V

Where the Swarm should be happy is seeing good production from their forwards. Jesse King led the team with three goals and four assists while Johnny Powless was not far behind with three and three. Nearly every forward on the team recorded multiple goals. They also had a good boost from Joel White in transition, who scored two goals on just two shots.

The player with a monster night for the Swarm was Jordan MacIntosh. He went 50% on faceoffs (17/34), but also picked up 20 loose balls (12% of all loose balls available in the game). He also scored a goal, had three assists, and caused a game high four turnovers.

Buffalo Notes

Anthony Cosmo Buffalo Bandits Georgia Swarm NLL 2016 Photo: Micheline V
Photo: Micheline V

For Buffalo, their offense was back on track, but it really was their defense letting them down by allowing 19 goals. There are just not many games you can win when you let all those goals. It was actually a rather ironic twist because Anthony Cosmo recorded 44 saves and broke league’s all-time career saves record in the process.

Offensively for the Bandits, Dhane Smith continues his assault on the league’s season scoring record by notching eleven points by himself by way of four goals and seven assists. Like in Toronto, they did not get much scoring from their defenders, but Anthony Malcolm, Mark Steenhuis, Ryan Benesch, and Chad Culp all turned in good nights.

Lyle Thompson Buffalo Bandits Georgia Swarm NLL 2016 Photo: Micheline V
Photo: Micheline V

Nobody will question Buffalo’s ability to play fast and generate offense, but that speed is starting to burn them a bit. They are generating the points, but they are leaving their keepers a bit too exposed and letting them see a ton of shots. Normally, that has been working out well for them, but as we approach the second half of the season, they have not been able to string more than two wins together. The Bandits are not in trouble and shouldn’t be hitting the panic button. They should be looking at where they can slow down opposing offenses so they can climb the standings again.

Calgary Roughnecks (3-5) @ Vancouver Stealth (3-4)

1 2 3 4 OT TOTAL
Calgary 6 2 4 1 0 13
Vancouver 0 3 6 4 1 14
51 17 58 10-31 4-5
55 17 79 21-31 3-5

Quick Thoughts

  • Curtis Dickson shouldn’t be expected to do it all
  • Tyler Richards comes out of retirement with a W
  • Production is stunted for Calgary without Dane Donnie
  • 8 goals in a row for Vancouver rewrote the game

The Vancouver Stealth forced Calgary into their bottom spot in the Western Conference with an incredible come from behind victory, stealing the game away from the Roughnecks in front of nearly 4k fans, in overtime, on Saturday night. With Calgary jumping out to such a substantial lead, we hope you didn’t walk away from your mobile devices but can only assume some of you did. It was an instant classic in British Columbia, a perfect finish for the first Stealth game attended by the new NLL Commissioner.

Calgary Notes

Curtis Dickson Vancouver Stealth Calgary Roughnecks NLL 2016 Photo: Garrett James
Photo: Garrett James

Not having Dane Dobbie in the lineup for Calgary showed a clear void left in the offense and a lot of weight for Curtis Dickson to try to carry. The Roughnecks have enough guys that can put the ball in the cage, it just the frequency of such that’s hurting them.

A transition goal by Dan MacRae kicked off the night as he took it down the floor to stare down an pressuring Billings before charging the goal. Goal two came minutes later to Superman Curtis Dickson 1 on 1, breaking down Moleski and ripping a sidearm slingshot farside, knocking down a 2-0 lead.

4 minutes went by before big Tyler Digby crashed in hard off the pick and roll with Dickson, diving in to make it 3-0. Getting back into the spotlight, Dickson did it again, stepping back and ripping the 4-0 sinker to remove Penney and call in Richards to the goal. Not wasting much time, Dickson got his hat trick, the 1st past Richards, extending the lead to 5.

Closing out the half, Karsen Leung snagged a loosie near the point and took it all the way down the floor for to bury it 1-on-1 and to capture the 6-0, 1st half shutout.

It took all but 6 minutes for Calgary to score in the 2nd quarter, in which time they gave up 3 straight goals. Dickson snapped the streak with his 4th score, the 4th on a different Stealth defender, rolling one around Hawksbee, to make it 7-3.

The final goal of the half came just minutes later to who else but Curtis Dickson on an absolutely insane highlight reel goal. Just watch his 24th of 2016 in action…

The Roughnecks got under the skin of Vancouver early and were rattling the cages on Vancouver players with a lot of off-ball checks and hard hits everywhere an opportunity presented itself. The pressure seemed to pay off as the Necks dominated really sent a message in the 1st half, strolling into halftime with the 8-3 lead.

After Vancouver kicked off the 2nd half with two straight tallies, a quick stick bounce from Jeff Shattler extended the Necks to 9-5. Great ball movement for the Calgary offense led to a bang-bang for Digby goal on the powerplay.

Pushing the score to 11-5, rookie Reilly O’Connor landed a one timer, working to fill in the hole left by Dobbie. O’Connor’s 2nd of the season works to get the monkey off his back after not finding many goals so far in the NLL season. A hat trick slam from Digby standing on the crease kept the streak alive. Digby stood on crease and stopped, checked to make sure he had the ball, turned and pounded it in like a grown man against children. This would be the last time that Calgary could get on the board over the next 19, or so, minutes to which they gave up the lead on 8-straight Stealth scores. Vancouver found a way to run out the last minutes of the game, but a saved shot turned into a timeout opportunity with only seconds on the clock. Pulling Poulin, quick ball movement with the extra attacker on the floor landed the ball in O’Connor’s stick and after being practically begged to shoot by the Stealth defense, he immediately sent the rock into the back of the goal. Who knows if it was how Coach Curt Malawsky drew it up, but man did it look pretty and it took the game into overtime. Unfortunately their sole OT opportunity couldn’t fall and Vancouver found a way to claw back and seal the deal.

Joel McCready Vancouver Stealth Calgary Roughnecks NLL 2016 Photo: Garrett James
Photo: Garrett James

Things started off colossal for goaltender Frankie Scigliano and his defensive unit. Keeping the Stealth constantly frazzled, running out shot clocks and limiting the shot selection was the name of the game early on for the Necks and Sgiliano was able to finish the 1st quarter with 10 saves and no goals against. His 2nd quarter wasn’t as lucky but still solid with 9 blocks on 12 shots. It was the 3rd frame where the wheels started to fall off the bus. Frankie was taken for a 6 straight unanswered Stealth goals until he was relieved for Mike Poulin to finish out the game. Poulin made an impressive 14 saves (13, the highest in a quarter for either side, came in the 4th), letting in only 3 goals, 1 being the game-winner in OT for which he was charged with the loss.

Vancouver Notes

Corey Small Vancouver Stealth Calgary Roughnecks NLL 2016 Photo: Garrett James
Photo: Garrett James

Back to back weeks with overtime is exhausting but this time around Vancouver found a way to get it done, with big help coming from a breakout rookie performance.

The Stealth got some early shots on goal but nothing was falling. Netminder Eric Penney and the defense gave up 4 unanswered goals in the 1st quarter coming on a variety of rebounds, set play and in transition before the keeper was pulled for longtime Stealth veteran Tyler Richards making his on-floor debut after coming out of retirement. That would be the night for Penney although he registered 7 saves on 11 shots, while Richards was 2 and 2 to end the first quarter.

Vancouver had chances, just not many of them. They wasted shot clocks and possessions were sloppy which helped dig the 6-0 hole. Calgary’s goals were either hard worked or crafty moves around screens. A few bounces either way this game could be closer, but the Stealth were clearly outworked and pushed around in the first half.

Just 30 seconds in to the 2nd quarter, Rhys Duch stopped the bleeding with a time and room heater. Less than a minute later, rookie Jordan Durston ripped 5 hole on Scigliano after snagging a nice rebound off the wall. An immediate powerplay opportunity follows only to be negated by Duch giving a retaliation hack to earn himself 2 minutes too, wasting the powerplay opportunity.

Back to even strength, Duchie came streaking off of the boards, catching the feed and since Scigliano dropped early, Duch sent a rocket into the net to close the gap to 6-3. The defense found a way to give up 2 more goals, making the Roughnecks 8-3 lead at the half start to look insurmountable.

Kicking off the 2nd half, Joel McCready knocked down his deepest crank of the season, doing his part to fix the score. A few minutes later, on the powerplay from a Riggers hold, Duch stepped in right away to get his hat trick and the score within 3.

Calgary made them pay for the pair of goals by punching in 4 of their own, 2 coming on the powerplay from a separate Stealth minors.

Wes Berg Chris O'Dougherty Vancouver Stealth Calgary Roughnecks NLL 2016 Photo: Garrett James
Photo: Garrett James

But two quick snipe shows in a row, first by Duch, his 4th, the 2nd by the rookie Durston started to pick up a little momentum for the home team. Keeping the train rolling, Garrett Billings scoring again within the next 30 seconds which causes a temporary goaltender swap on the other end. Again, less than a minute later, Durston road his high horse down the floor, chasing a roller after a Calgary over and back. Off the whistle he turned and hit Billings on the trailer to score the 4th goal within about 90 seconds but the game was still in favor of the Roughnecks, 12-9, heading into the final set.

A delay of game early in the 4th set up Logan Schuss to snipe one low from distance past Frankie to get to 12-10 and just seconds later Corey Small scooped a loose rebound and took it down Main Street for a quick little twister to get the game within 1 score bringing Poulin back in for a shaky Scigliano. Small would then step up huge to knot the game at 12, stepping in… stepping in…. and firing the equalizer with 7 minutes left in regulation.

Grinding all night long, Durston was finally rewarded with his hat trick goal, snatching an offensive rebound and taking it hard to the goal, across the crease and in for the 1st Stealth lead of the game with just under 3 minutes remaining.

After running out a minute or so of clock, the Necks got the possession and timeout with enough on the clock to draw up the game tying sinker, forcing extra minutes.

Just a minute into OT, the Stealth got settled on offense and Mr. Clutch, Corey Small, took the opportunity to let one sail from up top that was slowed down but found a way to trickle in through Poulin’s legs for the game winner and his hat trick.

The comeback execution awoke an energy in the Langley Events Centre that I’m not sure if we’ve seen before. Hopefully, for the Stealth’s sake, they can bottle some up and take it on the road to Colorado next weekend where they will face the Mammoth for the 3rd time in 2016, where they split the series 1-1. We’ve seen the best and the worst Vancouver offerings against the Mammoth this season, they’re going to need to bring the kitchen sink next weekend to keep climbing their way up the Western Conference standings. Sticking with Richards once he hit the floor might have been the key to pulling this one off. T Rich made 31 saves on 40 shots on goal, 1 in OT, to collect his 1st W of 2016.