Winners and Losers: NLL Week 15
There were seven great National Lacrosse League games this past weekend that gave fans some jaw dropping performances from players all over the league. Teams are racing to clinch their playoff spots as only a few weeks remain in the regular season. Let’s see who had a winning weekend and who ended up in the losers column in this week’s NLL Winners and Losers.
Steve Fryer only allowed 4 goals in an NLL lacrosse game. That is incredible especially considering Fryer is the usual backup for Mammoth goalie Dillon Ward, who made 41 saves the night before, but made the most of his first start of the season. Fryer made 49 saves on 53 shots in a game that the Mammoth dominated all over the floor. The Mammoth are playing their best lacrosse of the season and they must feel very food knowing they have two goalies that can win them games as they continue their run to the playoffs.
The San Diego Seals
Congratulations to the San Diego Seals organization for not only clinching a playoff spot in their first ever season, but also being the first team in the West to do so. That’s a big deal and definitely deserving of a ‘Winner’ spot here on Winners and Losers. It has been said all season that the Seals are not a typical expansion team and they have proven any doubters wrong who doubted them before the season. The Seals got great performances from Kyle Buchanan (four goals, four assists), Garrett Billings (one goal, nine assists), and their defense in their win against defending NLL champs the Saskatchewan Rush that secured their playoff spot. The Seals will be serious contenders for the NLL Championship, which is crazy for a team that had its first practice in history in November.
The Colorado Mammoth were fighting for a playoff spot in their two games against Vancouver and Eli McLaughlin was a man on a mission to make sure the Mammoth’s playoff hopes stayed alive. “Liger” scored an insane 16 points in two games with an amazing 12 point performance coming in the second game of the back to back. Since the departure of Ryan Benesch, McLaughlin has taken the reins of the Mammoth’s left side and has been absolutely deadly.
The one they call “Superman” out in Calgary took over the Roughnecks game against Rochester as he scored 4 goals and dished out 5 assists in their win. Dickson would not be denied as he fought his way to the net and found his open teammates all night.
The Mammoth had a great weekend offensively and defensively, but can also thank Tim Edwards for winning 30 of 40 faceoffs in two games to keep getting the ball in the offense’s sticks. As a former teammate of Timmy at Canisius, it is awesome to see him playing so well after grinding it out for the past 3 NLL seasons.
Georgia Swarm Attendance
The great play of the Swarm finally seems to be attracting more fans to the Infinity Energy Arena as at they have filled it with about 8,000 fans at both of their last home games which is about twice as much as they were getting at the beginning of the season. This is great for lacrosse in the Atlanta area and for the NLL as the amazing play of the Thompson brothers, Randy Staats, Mike Poulin, and the rest of the Swarm is finally getting a proper audience to play in front of.
Toronto Rock and Vancouver Warriors Offenses
Both the Toronto Rock and Vancouver Warriors played back to back games this past weekend and both team’s offenses only managed to score 11 goals in two games. The Rock have been missing their best lefty in Adam Jones for the past few games and the rest of the offense seemed to struggle despite out shooting Georgia and scoring the first 4 goals against Buffalo. Vancouver peppered the Mammoth goalies, but faced Dillon Ward and Steve Fryer who played out of their minds. The Warriors seemed to be lacking a spark as well. The Rock and Warriors both have some of the best goal scorers in the league so they should bounce back from these performances and get right back on track in their next games.
The Decision on the Callum Crawford Suspension
Callum Crawford’s suspension after his hit on Toronto’s Brad Kri has been the most controversial topic of this NLL season. Crawford was supposed to be suspended for five games because of his two match penalties in the past year, but after the appeal he will only be suspended for one game. I share the opinion of many lacrosse fans that Crawford’s hit was completely out of line and one game seems like just a slap on the wrist for a superstar. Normally we don’t call out an entire league here on Winners and Losers, but the NLL is in the losers column here because of the way they have handled this repeated behavior by Crawford. It needs to be given the proper punishment. Jake Elliot and Evan Schemenauer had a great discussion with the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association, general counsel Jason Jaros about what the process was for the appeal.
Who were your Winners and Losers of NLL Week 15?