Thursday, February 21, 2013

John Grant Jr Is A Magic Man

By Avry Lewis-McDougall

One of the NLL's best is at it again, and he's joined the craze of making trick shot videos.

Colorado's John Grant Jr made a trick shot video that he recorded with team GM Steve Govett and well let's just say it's something that could blow the wispy hair off of Donald Trump's head, check it out....


 After I watched it for the first time these thoughts were running through my head....

-The skeet shooting with the frisbees, I bet John could do with one arm tied behind his back.

-Even with a helmet I wouldn't let JGJ fire a ball at my cranium...Govitt is all kinds of wild.

-Scoring from the stands and press box is actually Jr showing off a new rule addition that will come into play in the 2014 season...I can't wait!

-Shooting pucks while playing lacrosse is pure overdose of Canadiana I was shocked I didn't explode into a pile of maple syrup and Bryan Adams CD's while watching it.

- The camera didn't capture everyone fleeing from the falling banner which would have covered the entire state of Colorado if this happened at Mile High Stadium.

-If I tried to fire a ball through the camera lens hole I'd smash the glass and be forced to repair it for some unknown reason.

It's a fantastic video and a great way for the Mammoth and the NLL as a whole to get some mainstream exposure in the sports world, who knows maybe some other players across the league could challenge him and do trick shot videos of their own.

Lastly, with the distance that John got from tossing his stick into the stands he instantly became Peyton Manning's backup on the Broncos.

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Season Predictions

Mike

West

  1. Calgary
  2. Colorado
  3. Minnesota 
  4. Edmonton
  5. Washington

East

  1. Rochester
  2. Toronto
  3. Buffalo
  4. Philadelphia 
MVP: Cody Jamieson
Rookie Of The Year: Mark Matthews
Transition Player Of The Year: Jordan MacIntosh
Defender Of The Year: Kyle Rubisch
Goaltender Of The Year: Matt Vinc

Avry

West

  1. Calgary
  2. Colorado
  3. Edmonton
  4. Minnesota 
  5. Washington

East:

  1. Rochester
  2. Toronto
  3. Buffalo
  4. Philadelphia
MVP: Garrett Billings
Rookie Of The Year: Mark Matthews
Transition Player Of The Year: Andrew Suitor
Defender Of The Year: Kyle Rubisch
Goaltender Of The Year: Mike Poulin

9 Teams In 9 Days: Edmonton Rush

Pictured: The Middle Of Nowhere
It's not often that a team that makes it to the Champions Cup final and has the first overall pick in their repertoire, but that was the case with the Edmonton Rush last season. After losing to the Knighthawks in the final, the Rush were able to pick Mark Matthews first overall in the October draft.

Matthews comes with the hype of being the best lacrosse player to be drafted since John Grant Jr. His resume includes two Minto Cups, and the title of All-Time leading scorer at Denver University. He's also not a stranger to pro lacrosse as he played this Summer with the MLL's Denver Outlaws.

Matthews will become the first player the Rush have been able to market to the fan,s as in past years, the team had a lack of star-power and with it a lack of success. At this point in the city, it's home playoff date or bust, but in the competitive West division, making the playoff will take all they have.

Matthews will be the franchise's first legitimate offensive quarterback and will be heavily relied upon in his rookie season. The Rush turned on the jets in the playoffs last year, but in the regular season they finished last in the league in goals for, only scoring 167 times.

They lose their leading scorer from last season in Shawn Williams, as well as Scott Evans and Aaron Wilson. Williams and Wilson were both part of trades, while Evans was released after Head Coach Derek Keenan thought he was not in the right shape or state of mind to stay with the team. Evans was missed 4 games in the regular season and finished the year benched during the playoffs.

Sticking around is Zack Greer, who had a breakout season leading the team with 31 goals, Corey Small, who lead the team in scoring in 2011, and Ryan Ward who had a less than stellar regular season but turned up production to average 7.5 points per game in the playoffs.

As well as Mark Matthews, rookies Curtis Knight and Mike Burke made the team on offense while Mitch Bannister will play transition.

Last season playing transition by committee didn't really work out, so Jarrett Davis and Jeremy Thompson have been brought in to help.

The Rush have one of the top defenses in the league, last year putting them second in goals against. Their back end features Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil, and Brett Mydske, all three of which have been NLL All-Stars in the last couple years. Rubisch is also the leagues reigning Defender Of The Year.

Finally, in goal is Aaron Bold who was given his first starting job last year and took it by the horns. Bold finished third in Save% for starting goaltenders stopping 77.5% of the shots he faced. He was a big part in the Rush making the playoffs and should be up for another great season.

Will the Rush be able to score enough goals? That seems to be the big question. As mentioned above, Matthews will be leaned upon to lead this offense in just his first season. He has the skills and surrounding pieces, and use of available talent should get them into the playoffs.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

9 Teams In 9 Days: Buffalo Bandits

By Avry Lewis-McDougall

Last but not least in our Eastern division previews are New York's other franchise in the form of the Bandits.

Buffalo last year finished last in the Eastern Division but was able to get into the playoffs falling to the Rock in the thrilling Eastern Division semi final 7-6 in Toronto.

Last season, the 43 year old John Tavares had a 87 point year in his 21th season in the league and still shows no signs of slowing down going into year 22.

Offensively he was also helped by Mark Steenhuis and Luke Wiles who were electric for the team with 39 and 27 goals respectively.

With the amount of goals that the Bandits scored last season, 198, it may seem baffling to some as to how this squad didn't go further in the playoffs even with a record of 7-9. 

In the off season Buffalo, saw numerous changes with guys like Brandon Francis, Kevin Buchanan, Jeremy Thompson and Tom Montour gone.

The Bandits, did add to it's roster Shawn Williams who last year had a 52 point season with Edmonton. Williams will bring more offensive flare to Buffalo as he returns to the team that he played for in 2000 and 2001.

In the draft Buffalo in the first round took Dhane Smith (who is the cousin of Bandits vet Billy Dee Smith who himself signed a one year deal to return to the club) from the Kitchener-Waterloo Braves of the OLA. Smith, is a speed demon who had 38 goals and lead the OLA Junior A league in points last season with 107.

You have to think that he will learn a lot playing with guys like Tavares and Steenhuis, to possibly become to next big offensive force for the team.

In net last year it was quite interesting with Mike Thompson and Anthony Cosmo. Neither guy played well during the regular season with Thompson having a save percentage of .753 and Cosmo's being at .759. In 2013 it will be Cosmo back again and former Wings goalie ,Kurtis Wagar, who signed a one year deal in the off season.

With the many changes to the roster and head coach Darris Kilgour no longer pulling double duty as both coach and GM, it will be interesting to see if this is a year of improvement or a step back. 

9 Teams in 9 Days: Washington Stealth

 "The Stealth sucked last year. Same story this year. Half of the veterans are gone. Seattle sports suck."
Those words come from lacrosse blogger and Washington Stealth fan Dan Shirley who doesn't seem to have a very optimistic viewpoint for this upcoming season from a Stealth perspective. Yes Dan you are right, the Stealth were not very good last year. Despite having offensive powers such as Rhys Duch, Lewis Ratcliff, and Athan Iannucci, Washington struggled to score goals only putting up 179 in 16 games, putting them only ahead of Edmonton and Philadelphia.

Shooting percentage for the top two stars fell through the floor and some blame can be attributed to that . Duch shot a .315 eS% in 2011, but went to a .282 just one season after. Ratcliff's percentage fell by .046 points between the two years.

Other than that, the season really seems like an enigma. They played without their Head Coach Chris Hall, but when he returned the wins didn't fall into place. Losing Tyler Richards or Jeff Zywicki could have made a difference, but upon their return, not much changed. Even trading for Athan Iannucci didn't make a difference. It was general team inconsistency all year long.

Jason Bloom and Cam Sedgwik have now joined the coaching staff while Jeff Zywicki was cut from the squad after having an injury filled 2012, so the team has lost some veteran presence.

The Stealth have gotten younger with rookies Tyler Garrison, Justin Pychel, Tim Henderson, Patrick O'Meara, and David Joyce on defense, Kyle Buchanan playing up front, and Mitch McMichael playing the transition role.

Chris Hall has came out and said that this team is "Bigger, Faster, and Stronger" so we will see if he's right when the season starts this Saturday. The percentages will go up, but it will have to be a team effort to get them back into the thick of things in the West.

9 Teams In 9 Days: Philadelphia Wings

By Avry Lewis-McDougall

In the city of brotherly love things are not the greatest for the Philadelphia Wings.

The Wings, dealt both Dawson brothers to the Rochester Knighthawks and in return gained Paul Rabil who had a tumultuous 2012 season, first being traded from Washington to Edmonton and then not refusing to play for the Rush, before being suspended for the rest of the season.

Rabil, is now on a team that he wants to play on and before his suspension for not playing for the Rush he had 8 points in five games for the Washington Stealth early in the season. Rabil, is one of the game's most exciting players when given the open floor but is still seen as a much better field guy than a box player.

It will be very interesting to see how things play out in Pennsylvania as the team still does have Kevin Crowley and Brendan Mundorf to lead the offensive attack. Crowley, had a 71 point season while Mundorf was third in team scoring with 68 points (Dan Dawson led the team in scoring with a 103 point year).

The Wings, did get back in the Dawson trade Jordan Hall, who last season had 31 points last season. It will be interesting to see Hall play a full year with the Wings and will be one of the bright spots for this club.  Hall is a transition player that has great play making ability having before had an 81 point season (25 goals, 56 assists) in 2009 with the New York Titans.

It will be tough for this team to be able to keep up with squads like Toronto and Rochester so trying to keep up in the goal department will be the real challenge for this squad.

Last season, the Wings were dead last in the Eastern division scoring on 176 goals and second to last in all of the NLL, only Edmonton scored less with 167 goals.

It's not all doom and gloom for this franchise as they added Duke Dman Michael Manley in the fifth round of the draft this year. Manley, was 2nd on Duke with 52 loose balls, led the team with 27 forced turnovers and was named to the USILA (United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association) All American second team.

Manley could hopefully turn into a premier shutdown defender for the Wings to replace a guy like Paul Dawson.

Brandon Miller is back in the Philly net this year after a 7-9 season with a save percentage of .742 in 2013 so the team will at least have a solid presence in the crease.

It will be interesting to see if Miller can improve this upcoming season or his job could be in jeopardy.

2013 will be a trying year for Philly after getting into the playoffs last year under new head coach John Mouradian, just how many speed bumps will this team hit? Only time will tell. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

9 Teams In 9 Days: Calgary Roughnecks

The Calgary Roughnecks have the reputation lately of being the most dominant team in the regular season, but one that can't get it done when it comes to the playoffs. Sine they won the Champions Cup back in 2009, the 'necks are a combined 33-15 in the regular season, and 1-3 in the post-season. The roster has always contained some phenomenal players, but for some reason they could never get over that hump. In an attempt to do just that, head coach since 2010 Dave Pym, was relieved of his duties. Curt Malawsky will now take over as Head Coach after being an Assistant for the last three years.

Few changes were made this off-season on the players side of things, but one was the loss of their all-time leading scorer, Kaleb Toth. Toth was drafted by the Toronto Rock and grew famous for scoring a Champions Cup clinching goal with only a second left when the Rock faced off against the Rochester Knighthawks in the 2000 final. The goal was also the last scored in the old Maple Leaf Gardens. Toth holds the title for most all-time games played, goals, assists, points, and loose balls as a member of the Riggers. Plagued by injuries last year, he only managed to pick up 7 points in 8 games and has now retired. Shouldn't be long before we see number 9 up in the Saddledome rafters.

The other moves include Aaron Pascas being brought in from the Rock and Cory Conway being traded to Edmonton for a draft pick.

Minimal roster changes were ideal as it looks good from a "If it ain't broke don't fix it!" point of view. The team had the best record in the league, scored the most goals, and allowed the least. The Offense is full of high-powered scoring depth with Shawn Evans, Jeff Shattler, Daryl Veltman, Scott Ranger, *Breathes*, Curtis Dickson, Dane Dobbie, Geoff Snider, and now Aaron Pascas. Scary.

The defense features Mike Caregie, Curtis Manning, Geoff Snider (He does it all,) and Mike Poulin in goal. Poulin had a .789 save percentage last year on route to winning Goaltender Of The Year. Scary.

Ok guys I'm hiding under my bed.