Monday, December 26, 2011

Edmonton Rush Season Preview


After a disappointing 5-11 record and no playoffs last year, the Rush did what they always do. Revamp the entire roster! A number of huge trades and the Blazers dispersal draft have shaped this team in to what it is today. They finished last in the West last year and had problems in every area at different parts of the year, but things have changed. Out goes Brodie Merrill and in comes some of the best attackers and defenders in the league as well as some young goalies.
Offense:
The Rush Offense has been revamped this year bringing in a ton of outside help. Shawn Williams was brought in along with Aaron Bold and and a second round pick for Alexander-Kedoh Hill, Ryan Cousins, and Andy Secore. Willams is an 14 year NLL yet that has put up 69 or more points for 11 consecutive years, 10 if which were with the Knighthawks. The veteran should add some stability to a Rush offense that could never be described as consistent.
Corey Small returns in his third year with the team after leading the team with 63 points. He also lead the team in shots with 168 and was second in missed shots with 47. Small has one heck of a shot but has problems hitting the net. He had the worst shooting percentages of the top Edmonton scorers only scoring on 13.7% of his shots. If he can start hitting the net on his sub-shot, he will be an even deadlier weapon this year than he was the last. His percentage did improve to 21% playing with the WLA's Victoria Shamrocks, so the Rush are hoping he can transfer it over to the NLL.


More after the break! 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

July was a busy month for the NLL

By Alex Hinkley

The 2012 National Lacrosse League season is still many months away but several teams around the league have been incredibly active throughout July. Below is a list of moves and recent signings as listed on the transactions page of NLL.com.

The Washington Stealth have been the busiest team in the NLL thus far. They re-signed five players: Jeff Moleski, Matt Beers, Chet Koneczny, Cam Sedgwick, and Curtis Hodgson.

The Stealth also traded star forward Luke Wiles to the Buffalo Bandits for the 23rd overall selection in the 2011 Entry Draft and a 2nd round selection in the 2012 Entry Draft. This move could spell bad news for the Rochester Knighthawks as Luke Wiles is a well-known goal scorer. Wiles coming back to the Eastern Division, as a member of Rochester's bitter rivals no less, means stiffer competition for the K-Hawks next season. The Bandits also re-signed defenseman Scott Self to a three-year contract.

Speaking of the Knighthawks, they recently re-signed Joel McCready to a three-year deal. McCready had 2 assists and 65 loose balls in 12 games with Rochester last year.

The Toronto Rock acquired goaltender Matt Roik from the Stealth in exchange for defenseman Kyle Ross. This move makes sense for the Rock after starting goaltender Bob Watson retired at the end of last season. Could Roik be the new starter or will Pat Campbell get the nod? Only time will tell.

After re-signing Kevin Croswell and Noah Talbot at the beginning of the month, the Minnesota Swarm then traded Croswell, Ryan Cousins, Aaron Wilson, and their 10th overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft to the Edmonton Rush in exchange for the 6th and 31st picks in the 2011 Entry Draft as well as their 2nd round selection in the 2012 Entry Draft. Wilson had a bit of a down year last season but the Rush are definitely getting an elite-level talent here.

Finally, the Colorado Mammoth traded former first round draft pick Dan Carey, their 28th overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, and their 1st round pick in the 2013 Entry Draft to the Toronto Rock in exchange for Creighton Reif, Mat MacLeod, and the 9th and 14th overall picks in the 2011 Entry Draft. Carey has spent the past six seasons in Colorado so it will be interesting to see how he fits into a new offense.

(Article originally posted on Examiner.com)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Roik to the Rock

By Graeme Perrow

The Toronto Rock's big question has been answered. Barring more trades, the starting goalie for the 2012 Toronto Rock will be Matt Roik, after a trade with the Stealth that sent defender Kyle Ross out west. On the surface, this seems to be a pretty good deal for both clubs – Toronto obviously needed a goalie and had a pretty strong defense, while the Stealth have a solid number one goalie and an experienced backup but needed help in the defense department (only one team gave up more goals than the Stealth in 2011). But let's look a little deeper.

A couple of months ago I looked around the league for the possible successor to Hall of Famer Bob Watson, and managed to ignore Roik completely. I decided that Washington wasn't likely to trade Tyler Richards, especially to the team that beat him in the Championship last season. Somehow the obvious corollary, trading Roik instead of Richards, didn't occur to me.

Both players have the somewhat unusual distinction of having been acquired by a team only to be traded away before ever playing with them, Roik with the Stealth (though he did later return) and Ross with the Calgary Roughnecks. Both have been involved in blockbuster trades in the past – Roik for Anthony Cosmo, and Ross (and others) for Josh Sanderson. And while I wouldn't call this trade a blockbuster, it's certainly important, particularly for the Toronto Rock.

First, a little on Roik. According to Wikipedia, Roik was drafted by, of all teams, the Toronto Rock. He was quickly traded to New Jersey, playing with the Storm in 2002 and 2003, and then moving with the Storm to Anaheim for the 2004 and 2005 seasons. He was taken third overall by the San Jose Stealth in the Storm's dispersal draft and then traded to Philadelphia. He played two seasons as the starter in Philly before being traded to Chicago where he played one season. Roik was reacquired by the Stealth in the Cosmo deal and played with them for three years – one in San Jose and two in Washington. He has a career 12.29 GAA with a 75.48 save percentage. His best year was 2010, where he had a sparkling 10.50 GAA. Watson, by way of comparison, had a 11.14 career GAA with a 76.94 save percentage in almost exactly twice as many minutes. Then again, Roik has one career goal while Watson has zero.

Now for Kyle Ross. Ross spent two seasons (2007-8) in Minnesota, though he only played in two games during the 2007 season. He was then chosen by the Boston Blazers in their expansion draft, and played the 2009 and 2010 seasons in Boston before being traded to Calgary in the Josh Sanderson deal. Before he ever played with the Roughnecks, he was traded to the Rock where he spent the 2011 season. He's a defender, so saying that he has 10 career goals and scored 4 in the 2010 season doesn't tell you much, but in his two seasons in Boston he had 92 and 85 loose balls.

I wouldn't say that acquiring Ross solves Washington's defense problems, but it certainly helps. Ross is a hard-nosed defender who collected a lot of loose balls (more so with the Blazers than with the Rock, but that may have been just because of playing time) and wasn't afraid to drop the gloves. He went up against Geoff Snider last season and even took him down, although Snider got back up and ended the fight with three punches. But win or lose, anyone who has the stones to fight Snider instantly gets some respect from me. Ross will sit out the first game of the season for the Stealth because of a one-game suspension for a hit which ironically occurred in last year's Championship Game against the Stealth.

I must admit that I don't know much about Matt Roik but the chatter on the Wingszone message board is that he has flashes of brilliance but may have some focus issues. (One poster said "if he's not on the same page as the rest of the team, he'll just crumble".) I wasn't overly optimistic about Pat Campbell being the starter next season but I have no problems with him as a backup, so if Roik can't keep his head in the game, I'm confident with Campbell coming in off the bench. Note that Rock GM Terry Sanderson has specifically stated "We're not anointing Matt as the starter, and we'll have other goalies in camp" and I believe him, but I imagine that it'll end up being Roik / Campbell nonetheless.

I was away with friends the weekend that this trade happened, and found out about it through a twitter message. Some of my lacrosse buddies were there and I told them about it. Their first reaction was a disdainful "So our starting goalie next year was Washington's backup?" and I think it's safe to say that their overall reaction to the trade was neither positive nor wholly negative, but "let's just wait and see what next season brings". (In Toronto, we call that the Mats Sundin approach.)

Anyone who has ever seen an NLL game in Toronto very likely saw Bob Watson in goal. If they saw a playoff game, they very likely saw Bob Watson win. To misquote Lt. Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, nobody can replace Watson but someone has to succeed him. Roik and Pat Campbell make a solid combo that may not be another Watson-Cosmo or Montour-Thompson (or even Richards-Roik from 2010), but is more than capable. The loss of Ross as well as Creighton Reid in an earlier trade leaves the Rock defense weaker than last season (though Ryan Sharp will hopefully return from his injury), but the addition of Dan Carey may mean that one of the other lefties, Aaron Pascas or Pat Maddalena, could be dealt for a defender.

So after digging a little deeper, I'll stick with my first impression of this trade. Unless Roik or Ross pulls a Yashin and tanks completely, both sides should be pretty happy with it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rock and Stealth Make a Swap; Roik a Rock

By Mike Wilson

Goaltender Matt Roik has been sent to the Toronto Rock for Kyle Ross.

Roik has been brought in to fill the hole that Bob Watson left when he retired at the end last season. This is defiantly a step down for the Rock, but you can't replace the best NLL goalie of all time.

More to come on the blog later.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Can Kevin Croswell Be A #1 Goalie In The NLL?

After the Edmonton Rush acquired Kevin Croswell in a trade last week,  one question was raised, at least for me: Can Kevin Croswell be a number one goaltender in the NLL?


Bryan Reynolds who covers the Swarm for Inlaxwetrust.com thinks so. 


"His technique is clean, he doesn't give up a ton of rebounds, and he is active in the crease. He has the makings of a very good goalie.  In the two appearances I saw, he did well, and looked like he could certainly be a number one." 


Croswell appeared in 4 games with the swarm last year, leaving the season with his best save percentage and his worst goals against average. 


The hilight of his season was a 47 save win over the Calgary Roughnecks. Oddly enough, he didn't see the floor for the rest of the season. 


Now if he can play full time like he did in that game, I agree with Bryan that he can start, at least on the Rush. 


He had similar stats to Matt Disher last season, but under the circumstances, Croswell wasn't often put into a position to excel. When your starter is pulled, more often than not, more than just the goalie is struggling. When the team in front of you isn't playing well, it's hard for a goalie. 


Another thing that could contribute to Croswell's less than fantastic stats is that he came into the game cold. In the game against Calgary that is mentioned above, he only allowed 8 goals and had a .854 goals against average. The start makes a difference.  


We all know the Rush needed a goalie. Disher just didn't get the job done and didn't help the Rush's playoff push. Kevin Croswell is a guy that can take the Rush to the playoffs. 


He was put into an unfortunate position behind Nick Patterson, but I think he has a chance to shine.


Reynolds also told me of Croswell's excitement to be apart of the Rush. 


"I talked to him after the trade, and no matter the question, he always brought it back to coming to Edmonton and being excited for the chance to earn a starting role."


I think I'm just as exited to see him in the black and grey, as he is to wear it. 

Can't Take The Heat

In Edmonton tonight, the temperature peaked at 27 degrees Celsius. Now that may not seem that bad, but it is when you are playing lacrosse in an arena designed to keep the general building warm. Even during the spring it gets HOT. I'm just glad my season ended at the end of June. The Heat is not fun to play in.

It was so bad tonight that during a RMLL playoff game between the Jr.A Eclipse and the Jr. Mountaineers from Calgary, the game had to be called because of unsafe conditions. The reason wasn't even the heat itself, but the sweat it created.

There were multiple floor wipes during the game and fans opened doors during the intermissions to cool the building. The refs strangely ordered for the doors to be closed before the game were to resume.

The game was eventually called halfway through overtime and will be finished in Calgary next week. The game was the 2nd of a 5 game series. The Mounties lead the series 1-0.

Heads up goes to Grant Smith. Thanks! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"The Show" Gets A New Time Slot. Fan Excited

By Mike Wilson

Luke "The Show" Wiles has been traded to the Buffalo Bandits in exchange for 2 draft picks, a 2nd and a 3rd rounder.

Wiles scored 29 goals and 31 assists last year for 60 to go along with 9 points in 3 games with the Stealth during their playoff run.

Wiles was traded so he could be close to home, but I think the happiest person out there was Hinda Koza, the fiance of Bandit Chad Culp.

(This Guy!)

(Note: Hinda has told me that she does not condone the stache! "It was Movember, but still...awful.")

She sent out such wonderful tweets as "It's like Christmas in July!!" and "if by thing, you mean amazing!!! haha I'm endlessly entertained by Luke. He's officially my 2nd fave Bandit"

Now Luke is a friend of theirs, but if all lax fans would be exited like this when trades come their way, the lax world would be even more awesome!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Toronto acquires Dan Carey

By Graeme Perrow

A day after dropping the news that the Rock and Mammoth had made a trade, Teddy Jenner finally broke the news of who was involved, which was later confirmed both by Rock owner Jamie Dawick on twitter and on NLL.com. Forward Dan Carey was sent from Colorado to Toronto along with a third round draft pick in 2011 and a first rounder in 2013 for defender Creighton Reid, forward Mat MacLeod, a first rounder in the 2011 draft, and a second rounder also in 2011.

The 29-year-old Carey is a two-time All-Star, as well as the winner of the 2008 Sportsmanship Award. Carey has an unbelievable 11 penalty minutes in his 60-game career, and none in 28 games since 2007. According to NLL.com, the Rock now have "three of the premiere left-handed offensive players in the league alongside Captain Colin Doyle and Stephan Leblanc". Personally, I think that including Carey in that "premiere" group may be premature. Carey missed most of 2009 and all of 2010 with a concussion, and while he did score 35 points in 12 games last season, by all accounts he was not back to his previous level of play. Mammoth fan and NLLBlog and ProSportsColorado.com writer Melissa Dafni said "Carey is talented, but he'll never be the player he was." Still, those 35 points translate to 47 points over 16 games, which would have put him fifth ahead of Beirnes and Pascas (and well ahead of fellow lefty Pat Maddalena's 10 points) on the 2011 Rock. The Rock also picked up a first round draft pick, though it's in the 2013 draft, so they have to wait almost two years before they even know where the pick might be.

The Mammoth pick up Mat MacLeod, who has four seasons of NLL experience despite being only 23 years old, and Creighton Reid, who is only a year older than MacLeod. MacLeod played in 12 games this past season, but didn't see a lot of floor time. Creighton Reid, on the other hand, played in every game last season and ten the year before, with his playing time continually increasing. I thought Reid was one of the hardest working players on a very good defense last season. With this trade, Colorado gets a forward to make up for some of what they lose in Carey, a solid young defenseman to add to an already-strong defense corps, and two 2011 draft picks. The Mammoth now have 5 of the first 17 picks in the 2011 draft, rumoured to be one of the deepest in years, which bodes well for the Mammoth's rebuilding efforts.

The big question for me is the motive behind the trade, from the Toronto side anyway. Did this trade address the gaping hole in the Rock roster that Bob Watson's retirement left behind? Not at all. Did the Rock need more offense? Arguably not, since they just won the Championship, and only two teams scored more goals than the Rock last year. Did they have excess defense and need to get rid of someone? No, many NLL fans (particularly Rock fans who were around during the Les Bartley days) know that you can never have too much defense, though I think it's fair to say that the Rock has enough that they can afford to lose Reid. But you don't trade a player just because you can afford to lose him to get back someone you may not need. [WARNING: speculation ahead.] Perhaps Carey asked for this deal. Once his goal of resuming his NLL career after his injury actually came true, he may have realized that he didn't want to be flying out to Colorado and Washington and Alberta for almost every game. Carey lives in Peterborough, about an hour north-east of Toronto, so despite cutting down on his frequent flyer miles, I'm sure he will appreciate the travel advantages of playing for the Rock. Carey also got married last summer, so perhaps he wants to start a family and spend more time near home. Again, this is all entirely speculation on my part, but if Carey asked to be traded to Toronto, Rock GM Terry Sanderson may have decided that the price wasn't too steep, and since the Pat Maddalena experiment didn't work out as they might have hoped, perhaps the Dan Carey experiment would be more successful.

If Carey's play continues to improve and he even approaches his former playing level, he could work out to be a pretty good addition to the Rock, and MacLeod and Reid can help the Mammoth for many years to come. It's hard to pick a winner of this trade given the draft picks involved, but if this year's draft is as deep as they're saying, this could work out very well for Colorado. Call it a tie – a good deal for both sides.

Rock and Mammoth Trade Announced

By Mike Wilson


The Toronto Rock have sent Creighton Reid and Mat McLeod to Colorado for Dan Carey. Deal also involves draft picks to be named later. Details are being finalized and more will come later tonight.


Thanks to IL Indoor for the details.

Rush Make Huge Trade; Croswell, Cousins, and Wilson Head North.

By Mike Wilson

Ok, I wrote a post yesterday saying I think the Rush were going to acquire Aaron Bold. I was wrong. It was much bigger.

The Edmonton Rush acquired F Aaron Wilson, G Kevin Croswell, D Ryan Cousins, and the 10th overall pick.

The Swarm then acquired the 6th and 31st overall picks as well as a second rounder in 2012.

For the Rush this is a sweet deal. Lets go through this player by player:

Aaron Wilson- Finished 3rd in team scoring on the Swarm last season ending up with 23 goals and 34 assists for 57 points. On a team the struggled to produce offense,  this is a great addition.

Now i'm going to say it, last seasons struggles were not for a lack of talented personnel, but because of players not playing up to their potentials. Ryan Ward and Andy Secore both had rougher seasons than usual, Secore more so because of injury troubles. If the Rush can get the returning players up to full gear, the addition of Wilson will prove even better.

Everybody on the offense benefits if it has success. The more looks you have the better.

Ryan Cousins- Adding another defender needed to happen after the departure of Rory Glaves and Ian Hawksbee. The Rush had problems with "D" after a season where they were one of the best in the league.

Kevin Croswell- Let's all welcome the new #1 goaltender to Edmonton. I believe he will do fantastic this season and suck next season. That always seems to happen to Rush goalies.


From a Rush perspective i'm exited. From a Swarm perspective, i'm confused.

I think that was a lot to give up for moving up a few spots and acquiring a couple more picks. They must REALLY like who they think they can get at #6.

In a trade that involves draft picks, we won't know who won for many years, but as of right now, the Rush have the lead.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Whos Toronto Getting From Colorado? I Know Who It Isn't!

By Mike Wilson

Sources from the Rock have told me who isn't coming their way! John Grant Jr. and everybody besides him who doesn't play "O" . 

Glad to help you out. 

Bet You Aaron Bold Is Headed To Edmonton


By Mike Wilson

Rumors have gone around that the Edmonton Rush are involved in a trade and I will bet you that Aaron Bold is a part of it. This is because of a couple of things said by Edmonton reporter Jason Gregor. He tweeted this just a few minutes ago: 

" Zero chance Merrill is moved. This deal is about making Rush better not worse. I know TOR is not team involved. Rush trade will involve a goalie. They need a young back up who can play. Hearing it will be big based on chat with NLL guy."

Why do I think this goalie is Aaron Bold? Because of this quote from Inlaxwetrust :  

" I suspect they will bring in a younger goalie. If I’m Keenan I would try to get Aaron Bold out of Rochester. Bold will never start there with Vinc, and Disher is near the end of his career. If they don’t get Bold, they will try to bring in another younger goalie with some experience to push Disher."

If not Bold, I would say Nick Rose out of Boston.

Not saying this is 100%. Just have a feeling. I'll throw a party if i'm right.

Crazy Trade Rumors

By Mike Wilson


There have been some NLL trade rumors spreading around on twitter tonight, but our crack team at the NLL Blog have unearthed talks that have never seen the light of the outside world.




  • Every Star player in the league to Boston. The Blazer than fail to make the playoffs the following season. 
  • Colin Doyle to Edmonton for Brodie Merrill and then flipping both Merrill's back to Edmonton just to get Doyle back. (Although Terry Sanderson is no Mike Kloepfer)
  • Or to not repeat history: Grant and Levis to Toronto for Leblanc and Patrick Merrill. Then COL flip Merrill to Edmonton to play with Brodie.
  • Edmonton trades all it's players for new players of equal caliber and fails to make the playoffs.
  • Swarm trade current jerseys for ones that psychologists have proved to promote migraines. 
  • Cory Small elsewhere, breaking my heart.
This is all we have for now, but stay tuned as we find out more.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

NLL offseason to-do lists

By Graeme Perrow

Down Goes Brown recently managed to get his hands on the to-do lists for a number of NHL teams, and wrote an article summarizing them. I was sure that the various NLL teams had similar lists, so I contacted my sources and lo and behold, I managed to get hold the aforementioned lists.

Boston Blazers – We need more former MVPs. Figure out a way to get Jeff Shattler down here.

Buffalo Bandits – JT says he's almost out of that Fountain of Youth water. Someone needs to head down to Tortuga to find that guy who knows where to get more.

Calgary Roughnecks – Ignore phone calls from the Boston Blazers.

Colorado Mammoth – Turns out the fans do like to see the Mammoth win at home. Fire that guy who said winning didn't matter. Don't remember his name, but he used to work for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Edmonton Rush – We won 2 of 3 against Washington last year and destroyed Toronto in the last game, so let's try to schedule lots of games against those losers next season. Avoid Calgary.

Minnesota Swarm – The "Dress in 1890's men's bathing suits" promotion was a big hit last year, so this year we're going to shake it up again and have Lady Gaga design the jerseys.

Philadelphia Wings – We're an American team, we should have American players! Say goodbye to those Canadians, like Miller, Wray, Iannucci, and Dawson, and say hello to the playoffs!

Rochester Knighthawks – Likin' all the individual awards we picked up at the end of last year, but I have a feeling there's a big team one we didn't really come close to getting. Can't... quite... remember... Plus, nobody named Gait has been hired, fired, signed, or retired in months. Must get on that.

Toronto Rock – I seem to remember something about a veteran player retiring, but I talked to Colin Doyle yesterday and he's definitely coming back. Looks like we're good to go!

Washington Stealth – Come up with creative ways to bring the fans in. Two finals appearances and one championship in two seasons is obviously not enough – this "have a successful team" idea might have been good on paper, but it just isn't working.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What are the Knighthawks up to?

The National Lacrosse League off-season doesn't necessarily mean it's vacation time for the Rochester Knighthawks. In fact, many Knighthawk players are still playing in various summer leagues right now. Several even play in multiple leagues simultaneously! Here is a brief list of where some of the Rochester Knighthawks are currently playing:

Shawn Williams and Aaron Bold are part of the Brooklin Redmen of Major Series Lacrosse. Bold is the starting goalie for Brooklin and currently boasts an impressive 8.43 goals against average with a .810 save percentage. Shawn Williams currently leads the league in overall scoring with 69 points (19+50) in just 8 games.
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Cory Vitarelli, Shawn Evans, Kyle Laverty, and Kevin Fines are playing for the Peterbourough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse. Evans leads the Lakers with 41 PIM.

Cody Jamieson, Matt Vinc, Craig Point, Sid Smith, and Rory Glaves play for the Six Nations Chiefs of Major Series Lacrosse.

Jordan Hall, Cody Jamieson, Joe Walters, Jarrett Davis, Matt Vinc, Sid Smith, and Tyler Burton play for the Hamilton Nationals of Major League Lacrosse (an outdoor league). Hall leads the team with 9 points (5+4) while Jamieson leads the team in scoring with 6 goals (+1 assist).

(Originally published on Examiner.com)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

John Grant, A Rising Playmaker

By Mike Wilson

A few months ago we told you about John Grant Jr., a youngster without a name a name for himself who turned heads at the end of the season with the Mammoth.

Now as he plays in the MLL, he is continuing to grow as a attackman with the Long Island Lizards, more specifically, as a playmaker.

Grant started the MLL season with the Hamilton Nationals  and was the Quarterback of the offense, distributing the ball to the rest of the attackers with precise timing, and speed.

Last week, he was traded to the Long Island Lizards for a second round pick, a reasonable trade, though in the long run it may benefit the Lizards more as Grant continues to grow and learn the league.

In his debut with the Lizards, he helped his team defeat the Chesapeake Bayhawks by collecting 2 assists. This now adds to his point total of 9 (2 goals 9 assists.)

If there have been any criticisms, it’s that he doesn’t shoot the ball enough. He only took a single shot in his Long island debut and has only recorded 7 on the season, though as mentioned before, he has 2 goals.

Grant has a laser of a shot and if used, it can put a lot of points on the board. If he can find away to work his shot into the offense as well with his brilliant passing, he can be a star in both the MLL, and the NLL.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Stealing From InLax: Washington Stealth Season Recap


Stolen from the desk of Marisa Ingemi
Since moving from California to Washington,. the Stealth have seen their share of success. After defeating the Toronto Rock in the Champions Cup last season, they found themselves in the position to repeat.
Instead, they fell to the Rock in the championship. But to call this season a disappointment would be hard. They did finish at 8-8 after a championship, but turned it on late to find themselves back in the Cup.
Lewis Ratcliff and Rhys Duch saw themselves as legit MVP candidates and Tyler Richards may have been the best goalie in the playoffs.
Let's recap their season and look to the future.
Star-divide
The Stats
Lewis Ratcliff finished second in the league in scoring, behind only the Swarm's Ryan Benesch, and Duch found himself two points behind Ratcliff. Despite their great offensive production, they finished second worst in the league in goals against. Now, this has to do with how awful Matt Roik was to start the season, but that stat should still be a concern.
The Stealth finished with the best power play in the league at 49%, 4% more than the second place Calgary Roughnecks. And this was an offense that was without Jeff Zywicki for most of the season.
Pros
Well, they went to the Cup and most of their players should be back. That has to be a pro. Zywicki should come back healthy and Paul Rabil is just growing as a player in the indoor game. Ratcliff and Duch had MVP years, so the offense seems all good for the future.
Tyler Richards also got better in net as the season went on, so that is a good sign as well.
Cons
The goaltending and defense could be an issue. Richards did improved but the 198 GA is a problem. Like I said though, most of those goals came from Matt Roik early on. There is an interesting rumor around of Matt Roik begin traded. He might not like playing second fiddle in Washington, so if that is the case the Stealth will need a solid backup goaltender. Maybe a guy like Brandon Atherton.

Now on to the future of the Stealth. It looks bright with a young and solid nucleus. With Ratcliff, Duch and Zywicki leading the way and Rabil soon to enter that mix, the Stealth could very well become the next NLL dynasty. If their defense and goaltending is improved they can dominate the west next season.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bet you can't read this article!!

Mike Wilson

Well you sure showed me! Now that I have your attention, I suggest you take 45 mins out of your busy work day and listen to Lax Live Radio!

Ted Jenner, Stephan Stamps and Andy McNamara are this weeks guests!

We also debut the Quizalator and I make blind MLL picks!

It will be more fun then being dumped into a pit full of snakes!

(BTW the Show is at 4pm MT and located here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/laxlive)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Good old fashioned Lacrosse commericals..

By Avry Lewis-McDougall


After a long time on YouTube I stumbled upon this gem of a lacrosse video, a 1991 promo for a New England Blazers and Philly Wings game. Theres a few things in it that I just love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrqgY-SXh_M

1. Those shorts are basically speedos that they were wearing in the early days of the MLL.

2. The blurry woman that said the action made her heart stop I hope she didn't go back to as many MLL/NLL games because that's not really good for your health.

3. I love the recycled NFL Films sounds being used in the video for every single body check.

4. If someone has one of those 1000 pairs of Brine sunglasses that were given out for the Philly-New England game email me at fightingpike1@hotmail.com, I want them.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stealing From InLax: Minnesota Swarm Season Recap

Stolen From The Desk of Bryan Reynolds


Ryan Benesch helped the Swarm accomplish a big goal in bringing a playoff game to Saint Paul.
Ryan Benesch helped the Swarm accomplish a big goal in bringing a playoff game to Saint Paul.
At the beginning of the season, Swarm ownership set a goal. According to co-owner Andy Arlotta, that goal "was to bring a playoff game home to our fans." After finishing 8-8, and beating the Colorado Mammoth in the final game of the season, the Swarm accomplished that goal. Arlotta said , "In only our third year [as owners], having a home playoff game means the world to us. It makes our fans happy. As far as the importance of a home playoff game, it is very important."
The NLL puts fan experience at the top of its priority list, and the Swarm take that to heart. The Swarm also understand that a winning team is the best way to bring in fans. You can have all the giveaways, promotions, and advertising you want,  but what puts fans in the stands is a winning program. With new ownership, the Swarm have put a winning program on the field, and the 2011 season was their best yet.
Make the jump to read more on the 2011 Minnesota Swarm.
Star-divide
Looking at the results over the course of the season, the Minnesota Swarm were never too high, never too low. Win one, lose one, win two, lose a couple. GM Marty O'Neill called the April 9th game against the Washington Stealth "the most exciting game I've ever seen." The battle, the tenacity of this Minnesota Swarm team was unending. They abttled some consistency issues, which Coach Mike Lines pointed out after the season, but with All-Star goalie Nick Patterson, and league scoring champion Ryan Benesch, the Swarm were certainly never out of any of the games.
Benesch lit up the NLL this season for 95 points (46G, 49A), but the Swarm also got plenty of scoring from other sources. Callum Crawford had the second best season of his career with 70 points (27G, 43A), and players such as Aaron Wilson, Mat Giles, and Jamie Shewchuk chipped in when needed.
The Swarm also received an outstanding rookie season from defenseman Andrew Suitor, the Swarm's first round pick in 2010, who also added some needed grit to the team, grabbing 108 loose balls, and placing second on the team in PIMs, behind "bash brother" Rory Smith. Suitor, whose bright yellow shoes make him stand out on the field, had a career night, potting four goals against the Calgary Roughnecks, and finishing the month of April with seven of his ten points. 
Another rookie, transition Tyler Haas showed he has what it takes to be a very good player in the NLL as well. While Hass did not have a break out game, he was consistent throughout the season, putting up ten points (8G, 2A), he added 44 loose balls and 18 PIMs. None of what he did made him stand out, or receive any rookie of the year consideration, but at 6'6", 205lbs, Haas will be around awhile if he continues to be a presence on the field.
Washington head coach Chris Hall said the 2011 Minnesota Swarm were "the best Minnesota team there's ever been and they're really deep throughout. They improved their offense, and their offense is a lot deeper. Made some really good moves at the back end, and of course their goaltending can be spectacular at times." 
Hall could not have summarized the 2011 Swarm team better. Outstanding goaltending, offensive prowess, grit, toughness, and solid defense. The Swarm of 2011 were different from any other Swarm team up until this point. They have a growing fan base in Minnesota, are putting together a winning program, and with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, will only add to the talent of the team.
With the team that was on the field in 2011, any improvement next season will make the Swarm a very dangerous team. Expect more playoff games, and perhaps even that elusive playoff victory, in 2012. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Replacing a Legend

By Graeme Perrow

How do you replace a legend, and one of the best players ever to play the game? We don't know much at this point about what changes Terry Sanderson and Troy Cordingley might be considering for the Toronto Rock this offseason, but one thing's for sure – they need a new #1 goaltender to replace the retiring Bob Watson, the only #1 goalie the Rock have ever had. How do you replace someone like Watson?

With all due respect to Pat Campbell, he'll be 35 next year and has been a solid backup goalie most of his career, so I don't see the Rock tossing him the keys to the franchise. The Rock have had a definite #1 goalie for their entire history so I don't see them going the route that the Bandits and Stealth have used – having two main goalies and "platooning" them (to steal a baseball phrase), so going with both Campbell and Gee Nash is unlikely as well.

Not going with Campbell or Nash means they will have to try to acquire someone from another team. I don't have of a list of goalies who are free agents this summer, so let's ignore that route for the moment and just assume we're talking trade. The top goalie on the "would be nice" list would have to be back-to-back Goaltender of the Year Matt Vinc. Suuuuuure. The Knighthawks gave up John Grant for this guy so unless we offer Doyle, LeBlanc, and a few prospects, he's not going anywhere – and definitely not to a division rival. Mike Thompson? Suuuuuure. Thompson is coming off of a fabulous season in which he had the second-lowest GAA and third highest save percentage in the league. If Ken Montour is able to return from his injury, the Bandits may consider trading Thompson, but Stephen Stamp's article about concussions didn't give much reason for optimism there. I hope I'm wrong about that. Brandon Miller from Philly? Maybe, although he was one of the few bright spots in Philly this season and was the reason they fought for a playoff spot as long as they did. Anthony Cosmo? Possibly – he had the lowest GAA in the league last year though I wouldn't call it one of his better seasons. It'd be ironic if Cosmo actually did replace Watson in the Rock net, like we thought he would many years ago. Cosmo himself mentioned that possibility recently in an interview with ILIndoor.com.

Let's look west. How about Poulin from the Roughnecks? That'd be great for the Rock, but why would Calgary do this? Do they want Palidwor as their #1 next year? Not likely. And it's not like the team has some glaring weakness that could be addressed by making a big trade, so file that idea under the "Suuuuuure" category as well. (Not to mention the fact that making roster changes to his lacrosse team is not exactly at the top of Brad Banister's To-Do list these days. Hey Brad, if you're actively trying to sell the team, surely there's a better way to convince some sucker astute business person to buy them than publicly whining about how little support the team gets and how much money you're losing.)

So what about Edmonton? I'm sure they wouldn't mind some extra firepower given that they traded Gavin Prout back to Colorado. But which Edmonton goalie to choose – Matt Disher or Rob Blasdell? Ummmm... no thanks. Chris Levis from Colorado? Another "Suuuuuure". After years of mediocre goaltending the Mammoth finally have a strong #1 so I don't see them trading him, though they could also use some help in the offense department. (Aside: It seems unbelievable that a team that just acquired John Freakin' Grant still needs help on offense.) How about Washington? I didn't think Tyler Richards had that great a 2011 season, but he was certainly the second-best goalie in the playoffs. But how likely are the Stealth to trade him to the team that beat them in the finals? Similar to Calgary, they're a strong team to begin with, so what could we offer the Stealth for them to give up Richards? Would Minnesota give up Patterson? I doubt it, though I know nothing about Kevin Croswell – if they have enough confidence in him, maybe they would if they got enough in return. That's a team that should have made big changes in the off-season last year and didn't, so perhaps a big shake-up would be good for the Swarm.

There are lots of possibilities here, some of which I can't address properly because I don't know much about the backup goaltenders. Philadelphia backup goalie, Ray Hodgkinson, is only 23 and only played 46 minutes this year. But maybe the Wings think this kid is the next Dallas Eliuk – if they have enough confidence in him, maybe they would give up Miller for the right price. Hell, for all I know the Rock have some young goalie in their system (is there such a thing as a "system" in the NLL? It's not like there are AAA affiliates like in baseball, or the OHL/AHL like in hockey) that is the heir apparent, though I've never heard mention of one.

So we have a few "maybe"s and a few "not bloody likely"s, but there aren't really any "no chance in hell"s. (In a league where Gary Gait can be traded three years after retiring, nothing's impossible.) But trades run two ways – the other question would be "Who could the Rock give up to get a #1 goalie"? Doyle, LeBlanc, and Billings are untouchables. Blaine Manning is a possibility, or maybe a rookie with potential like Aaron Pascas or Rob Hellyer. (Or more likely, the combination of a Pascas and a veteran like Manning or Cam Woods.) It's not unlikely that a team trading away a goaltender may want defense in return rather than a goal scorer, so perhaps 2010 NLL Defender of the Year Sandy Chapman (though I'd prefer if he were untouchable as well), or hard workers that get little fanfare like Drew Petkoff, Jeff Gilbert, or Creighton Reid.

Trade speculation is fun but ultimately pointless, as there are a zillion factors that we as fans don't know about that affect whether deals can be made. Are there no-trade contracts in the NLL? If not, could there be "gentlemen's agreements" between players and GMs that effectively mean the same thing? Are there personality conflicts between players or between a player and a GM that mean that some trades are impossible? Are there players who might simply refuse to be traded? Since this is a part-time semi-pro league, it's certainly possible that a player may decide that travelling across the country for the majority of games is just too difficult with work or family commitments, and would prefer to retire than be traded to a team on the other side of the continent. I remember a rumour that the Rock were not allowed to trade Dan Ladouceur because of his position with the Durham Region Police.

So after all that, here's the net result of this discussion:

  1. The Rock need a new #1 goalie.
  2. I don't know who they should get.
  3. I don't know who they should give up to get him.

My work here is done. This is why the NLL Blog pays me what they pay me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Stealing From InLax: Boston Blazers Season Recap

Stolen From Marisa Ingemi



 A season mired with disappointments, the Blazers were just that. A disappointment, underachievers, any adjective you want, they were not as good as they should have been. Not even close.
In what was the most talented roster in the NLL the players also suffered some bad seasons. Josh Sanderson disappeared for long periods and Dan Dawson just did not shoot the ball enough. Sometimes the team looked emotionless and sometimes their star goaltender Anthony Cosmo looked like Brian Boucher.
And with most of this roster laden with two year deals, as odd as it is to say the Blazers are stuck with these players. Now 36 year old Casey Powell who did not seem right the second half and Sanderson who was lost out these at times. And now Cosmo may be the biggest concern of all.
The Stats-
Dan Dawson and Casey Powell were in the top five in scoring, which is nice. Not so much when it seems every single one Dawson had was an assist, but we will look at that more later. Cosmo somehow led the league in goals against average despite costing the Blazers some big games.
Sanderson suffered one of his worst offensive seasons after coming off leading the league in points.
The Pros-
Sanderson, Powell and Dawson are all great players and can turn it on whenever, we assume. They have all been MVPs of some sort in the NLL and Sanderson led his Roughnecks to a cup in 2009. Cosmo did play very well in the first half of the season and players like Jamie Rooney and Kevin Buchanan stepped up big time this season. Rooney, in fact, played maybe the best streak of lacrosse as anyone in the last five games of the season.
Kyle Rubisch also is developing into a star defenseman and he is amazing on the loose balls. And don't forget, Damon Edwards and John Orsen will be back next year.
The Cons-
The team just plain underperformed and seemed lifeless most of the season. They typically used an excuse of their warmups were not where they wanted it to be. I watched every warmup they had and it was the same routine every time.
Poor excuses and a poorly managed team equals disaster, especially when you have the inevitable egos of having the best players in the game. I wonder if Matt Sawyer will be kept around next season, or if he should be.