Authors’ Notes: Welcome back to another NLL Media Poll. We got fed up with lacrosse’s lack of polls that tie together multiple media sources, so we made one ourselves. This poll features votes from Inside Lacrosse and Tyson Geick of the NLL, along with our own Mark Donahue and Ryan Conwell.
We didn’t get to see the teams from New York play last weekend, but there’s plenty of other news. The Stealth continue to prove themselves and their big turnaround. But will it sticks?
No one can feel comfortable about the Roughnecks, or the Swarm for that matter, any more. Fortunately for Georgia, they’re 7 wins deep and don’t have to start sweating yet, like Calgary is. Colorado had the biggest hiccup of the weekend, bumping them down a couple spots.
New England seems to have new air in their lungs and a real path toward the postseason. But that enough general babble, let’s dive in…
9. Rochester Knighthawks (0)
Weekend Result: Did not compete.
Next Game: @ New England – Friday, March 17th 7:30pm ET
Goals: Josh Currier – 16 (T-20th)
Assists: Dan Dawson – 25 (17th)
Points: Joe Resetarits – 37 (T-22nd)
Rochester had a bye, so no movement either. New England rematch is up next.
The didn’t get a chance to redeem themselves last weekend. Here’s to hoping Friday night in New England gets things back on track.
T-7. Buffalo Bandits (+1)
Weekend Result: Did not compete.
Next Game: @ Vancouver – Friday, March 17th 10:00pm ET
Goals: Mitch Jones – 18 (T-16th)
Assists: Ryan Benesch – 26 (T-21st)
Points: Dhane Smith – 42 (17th)
Buffalo had a bye, so no movement for me. Vancouver is up next.
Same deal at the Knighthawks. They didn’t get a chance to get after it, so I’m not moving them. Things have been looking up recently, but I expect Vancouver to put up a fight.
T-7. Calgary Roughnecks (-1)
Weekend Result: Loss to Toronto, 10-16
Next Game: @ Georgia – Friday, March 17th 7:35pm ET
Goals: Curtis Dickson – 33 (1st)
Assists: Jeff Shattler – 34 (8th)
Points: Curtis Dickson – 63 (5th)
The Roughnecks are currently at the bottom of the West and in real trouble in terms of playing beyond the regular season. After starting the season 3-1, Calgary is a dismal 1-6. What’s more concerning is that in that stretch, only one game has been close. The saving grace is their last two have been against Georgia and Toronto, but I don’t think that is going to reassure Calgary much.
Ryan’s right, but their next two games are against Georgia and Saskatchewan (woof). The Swarm are starting to stumble and it’s always a dogfight with the Rush. They got the best of the Bees last time, now their both familiar and there are problems. Last weekend they scored 1 goal in the entire first half. Curtis Dickson (3+2) picked a corner from a powerplay swing pass in the 2nd quarter, but that was it for the offense. Frankie Scigliano (.773) was 22-27 before halftime, helped by a good showing from the defensive unit.
The game broke open in the 3rd quarter with back and forth goals for 15 straight minutes. Unfortunately, the 5 the Riggers punched in, the Rock match with 7. 1 of those goals came shorthanded (G. Harnett), 2 on the powerplay (Dickson, Dobbie). In the final frame, another shorthander and 2 powerplay scores would join a Jeff Shattler (2+3) goal to round things out, but they would still be 6 shy of what they allowed. It’s time to get gritty or get left behind.
6. New England Black Wolves (+1)
Weekend Result: 3/3 – Win over Georgia, 13-8
Next Game: vs. Rochester – Friday, March 17th 7:30pm ET
Goals: Kevin Crowley – 28 (3rd)
Assists: Shawn Evans – 40 (4th)
Points: Shawn Evans – 62 (6th)
New England rode the stellar performance of Evan Kirk to victory over Georgia and also were able to welcome Shawn Evans back into the lineup. Evans had some visible tape on his ankle, but he did not seem to be 100%. He can still make plays, but with Kyle Buchanan and Kevin Crowley on the righty side with him, he does not need to worry as much about being the only option.
Things didn’t look to hot for the Black Wolves in the first quarter. They only found twine once on a nice dodge from the boards and midrange shot from Jay Thorimbert (2+0, 10 LB, 64% draws). But they kept pulling the trigger and it paid off. A few nice goals came from the inside and there was a wrap around Kyle Buchanan on the powerplay that was just a beauty. Finding a rebound from an Evans ripper, Buchanan went airborne behind the goal and tucked it in on the far corner. Everything else seemed to fall from distance, for the most part. They picked their shots and they hit them.
Hats off to Kevin Crowley, Shawn Evans and Kyle Buchanan, all with three goals and a combined 11 assists. I also have to give a shoutout to the penalty kill for fighting off 8 of 9 chances. The whole thing was kept together by another strong showing from Evan Kirk between the pipes. This week was punctuated with a .846% average, posting lucky number 11 saves in each quarter. They can’t sleep on Rochester, coming in off the bye. If the West Division sweeps the weekend, and they do their job, they’ll be at .500 and a game and a half behind the leader.
5. Colorado Mammoth (-2)
Weekend Result: (0-2) 3/11 Loss to Saskatchewan, 11-12 OT & 3/12 Loss to Vancouver, 6-10
Next Game: @ Toronto – Friday, March 17th 7:30pm ET
Goals: Callum Crawford – 22 (T-10th)
Assists: Callum Crawford – 44 (T-1st)
Points: Callum Crawford – 66 (T-2nd)
This was a rough weekend for the Mammoth. They played a close one against the Rush to start their weekend on Saturday, then they lose big to Vancouver on Sunday. Holding the Stealth to just 10 goals would make most thing that a win was in the books, so you can hardly fault the defense here. But it was really the forwards who could just not figure out Tye Belanger in net. They have Toronto this weekend followed by Saskatchewan again in a week, and Georgia after that. This stretch could break the Mammoth season if they don’t pull out an upset or two.
Losing to the Rush on Saturday in OT is absolutely heartbreaking. Turning around and only putting 6 up on Vancouver made me think twice about the Mammoth. I heard some of the guys on the team didn’t get any sleep between traveling and the game. That’s really unfortunate, but circumstances this league has to deal with. The biggest surprise of the weekend had to be the effort of Chris Wardle. The forward flew out of the gate to create opportunities with the transition team, putting up 5 goals on the Rush and a electrifying score late in the Vancouver game. Like RC said, the upcoming stretch ain’t nothin’ to mess with. There’s a lot between Colorado and a playoff spot.
4. Vancouver Stealth (+1)
Weekend Result: 3/12 – Win over Colorado, 10-6
Next Game: vs. Buffalo – Friday, March 17th 10:00pm ET
Goals: Corey Small – 29 (2nd)
Assists: Corey Small – 43 (3rd)
Points: Corey Small – 72 (1st)
Don’t look now, but Vancouver has won three of their last four. What is most significant about that is they have also beaten every other team in the West. They play all three again one more time, so gaining ground it definitely possible. Tye Belanger played some truly great lacrosse in this game and made some save he had no business making. I hope this means that Vancouver has finally turned the corner to the point where they can make a postseason run.
Vancouver is playing a brand of lacrosse we’ve been waiting to see from them. On the offensive side, Corey Small (2+4) has been an absolute wizard every weekend. Rhys Duch (4+1) made his presence known with a goal per quarter last weekend. This is good news considering they were without Logan Schuss (personal commitments) in Sunday night’s road game.
In the crease, Tye Belanger (.807) has been their saving grace and now holds the league’s best sv%. 13, 15, 9, 16. Those were his saves per quarter. He saw nearly 60 shots on goal and saved .898 of them. After taking Fowler out of the lineup, they’ve been struggling heavily on draws. Last weekend they won just 4 of 20 pulls, a lost of missed opportunities. They’re a half game behind 2nd place and a whole game above Calgary. If they keep their noses to the grindstone, there’s a playoff ticket and franchise-high win record on the horizon.
3. Toronto Rock (+1)
Weekend Result: 3/11 – Win over Calgary, 16-10
Next Game: vs. Colorado – Friday, March 17th 7:30pm ET
Goals: Brett Hickey – 24 (T-6th)
Assists: Tom Schreiber – 35 (T-6th)
Points: Tom Schreiber – 52 (10th)
Toronto started their evening by retiring the jersey of Colin Doyle, which was very well deserved. It was also such a big deal that owner & GM Jamie Dawick wore a suit to the ceremony to introduce Doyle. The Rock honored their former captain well and turning in a start to finish beating of Calgary in front of their hometown fans. The Rock are well past the “will they keep this up?” phase of their turnaround and are squarely looking like the best team in the league at the moment. It’s hard to believe that just a season ago, this team was tied with Vancouver with a league worst 5 wins. They had that by mid-February this year.
I can’t agree more with RC. Obviously the experiment worked. After scoring the night’s first goal, Tom Schreiber (4+4) perpetually put up points all game. Brett Hickey (5+1) had the hot stick, 3 fed from Schreiber, while Kieran McArdle (2+3) and Stephan Leblanc (3+2) each worked in 5 points.
This club is putting in the work all over the floor. Rookie Latrell Harris is credited with 4 caused turnovers, of the team’s impressive 13. If the scoresheet is correct, they also snagged 101 loose balls as a team, 5 runners with 8. Nick Rose (.792, 9.45 gaa) is always shutting it down. It has to be a huge relief for this group to have a goaltender with such consistency. They could get their chance to tie the Swarm with a win this weekend. If they both win, or lose, the Rock will get a chance to even it next Saturday when they go head to head.
2. Georgia Swarm (-1)
Weekend Result: 3/12 – Loss to New England, 8-13
Next Game: vs. Calgary – Friday, March 17th 7:35pm ET
Goals: Lyle Thompson – 27 (4th)
Assists: Lyle Thompson – 38 (5th)
Points: Lyle Thompson – 64 (4th)
Georgia did not look great against the Black Wolves. Lacking Randy Staats and Mile Thompson was very noticeable. Lyle Thompson had some amazing plays on both ends of the floor, and was nonstop hustle, but New England’s defense was too much. It felt like Georgia was just taking what they could get on offense instead of doing what they wanted to. In positive news for the Swarm, Joel White has been added to the Active Roster for this week. That should help their lineup as they work through the back half of their schedule.
The Swarm are starting to lose some of the young magic. Can’t say it’s a good time for it either. Not having Randy Staats and Miles Thompson sucks, I get it. But, they’re getting transition extraordinaire Joel White back in the lineup this weekend. This means more possessions for the Bees. Problems came often when they couldn’t get Kirk moving in the crease. Lyle (0+1) was held to goose egg after 10 shots on goal. Shayne Jackson (3+3) and Johnny Powless (2+2) both found some luck, but when the ball wasn’t moving, nothing was falling. Looking at the margins they are winning by, and their recent two-game skid, I’m losing a lost of trust in Georgia. They haven’t had what I would consider a convincing win in a long, long time. Time to get back on the horse.
1. Saskatchewan Rush (+1)
Weekend Result: 3/11 – Win over Colorado, 12-11 OT
Next Game: vs. Calgary – Saturday, March 24th 9:30pm ET
Goals: Robert Church – 24 (T-6th)
Assists: Mark Matthews – 44 (T-1st)
Points: Mark Matthews – 66 (T-2nd)
The Rush are not surprisingly still the best team in the West, but after another one goal win over Colorado, they cannot be feeling too comfortable up there. While their games have been pretty close, they still have only lost one match to their division. With only three more games against the East this season, that should bode well for them going forward. But they really need to make some improvements if they want to hoist another banner next season.
I don’t think you can sweat the small stuff with Saskatchewan. They’ve been getting the job done and I do feel they’re best team in the NLL. For some reason their game plan didn’t include Wardle (5 goals), but I think they looked pretty solid last weekend. They put a lot of shots on goal (63), but Ward is playing out of his mind. Aaron Bold (.765) saw nearly 20 less shots, and went big when needed including 3 saves in OT. The hero of the night was Ben McIntosh (4+0). After burying his hat trick, Benny Mac came back in sudden death and sealed the deal for the club’s 7th win. The defense and transition team always deserve a world of praise. I love their chances, they got my #1 vote.
NLL Media Poll #7
1. Saskatchewan (2)
2. Georgia (1)
3. Toronto (4)
4. Vancouver (5)
5. Colorado (3)
6. New England (7)
T-7. Calgary (6)
T-7. Buffalo (8)
9. Rochester (9)
NLL Media Poll Votes
|Voters||Ryan Conwell (LAS)||Mark Donahue (LAS)||Tyson Geick (NLL)||Inside Lacrosse|
|5||Colorado||New England||Toronto||New England|
|6||New England||Colorado||New England||Vancouver|
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