There were only three NLL games last weekend making choosing this week’s Winners and Losers a little easier, but there was definitely no shortage of big plays and big hits. Let’s see who had a winning weekend and who ended up in the losers column in this week’s Winners and Losers.
Winners and Losers: Week 11
On a night that the Buffalo Bandits got a dominant win against their Western New York rivals, the Rochester Knighthawks, Chase Fraser also had an equally impressive night on offense and in the faceoff circle. Fraser was playing on another level as he scored four goals and added two assists while also finishing 14-for-16 on faceoffs for an insane .875 win percentage. Two of his goals were rockets from up top and another came right after a faceoff win in transition. But, the highlight of the game and maybe the entire weekend came as Fraser got a pass off of a pick-and-roll and buried a behind-the-back shot on the run. The Bandits seem to have weapons all over the floor and this team is surely giving opposing coaches nightmares as they try to figure out a way to beat them.
The Black Wolves faced the most clutch team in the league on Sunday night as the Toronto Rock paid a visit to Mohegan Sun Arena. Unfortunately for the Rock, the most clutch player in the building was Black Wolves’ goaltender Doug Jamieson. Jamieson made 47 saves on 58 shots as the Rock offense peppered him with shots all night. Jamieson essentially shut the door in the second half and also fended off every shot the normally deadly Toronto powerplay threw at him during a five minute major penalty at the end of the fourth quarter. What an outstanding effort, especially with the Black Wolves goalie situation all season. They may have found their permanent starter in Dougie Jamieson.
The Saskatchewan Rush faithful also got an incredible performance from their netminder as Evan Kirk returned to the crease after his backup Adam Shute stepped into his place the previous weekend. Kirk was definitely seeing the ball well as he stopped 36 of the 43 shots he faced in a low scoring game against the Colorado Mammoth, where every shot was a potential game changer. His biggest save of the night came with less than a minute left in the game and allowed Brett Mydske to score an empty net goal to seal the Rush win. Kirk and the Rush defense only allowed seven goals on the night and are looking like a Rush team ready to make another playoff run.
Chris Cloutier was traded from the Philadelphia Wings to the Buffalo Bandits only a few weeks ago and it looks like Cloutier is fitting in with his team quite nicely. Cloutier finished with six points in the win against Rochester and looks to be developing chemistry with fellow lefties Corey Small and Jordan Durston as well as the rest of the Bandits’ explosive offense.
The veteran defender was making plays all over the floor against the Mammoth making taking the ball away from NLL forwards look easy. Rubisch finished with six (!) caused turnovers and also had an assist on a big Mark Matthews goal right before halftime.
Callum Crawford usually would find his name in the winners section of these articles for the gaudy number of points he has been putting up so far this season, but in New England’s game against the Toronto Rock Crawford delivered a dangerous hit on defender Brad Kri late in the game resulting in a five minute major penalty. You can say whatever you want about this hit, but it was a dirty and unnecessary play. Crawford was going to set a pick for his teammate and what he did was not a pick. He left his feet to jump and hit Kri, and ended up elbowing him in the head in what to me looked like a deliberate attempt to hit him as hard as possible rather than free up space for a teammate. Crawford is a great lacrosse player who plays the game with a lot of passion and speed, but this was too much. He may get suspended for this hit and will have to suffer the consequences of endangering another player. It also seems that he has a history of leaving his feet to make hits.
That’s it for this week’s Winners and Losers. We made it through an NLL weekend without a referee getting hit by a shot and we are getting closer to the end of the season chaos that will surely happen as teams try to secure playoff spots. The best lacrosse of the season is yet to come.