As the NLL season heads into week 10 it’s time to sit back and look at how this first half of the season has looked for each team in the league. For some their season has gone just as expected, but for others they may wish that they could have a do over.
It’s been a crazy first half of the season and it is shaping up to be a wild finish again just like last season was. The expansion teams coming in has added an interesting dynamic with more teams and players in the league than ever. This season had just given the “Anything can happen in this league.” tag even more credibility.
Note: Teams are in order of the current standings in each division.
1. Toronto Rock
Last Game: 16-13 win vs Saskatchewan
Next Game: 2/15 vs San Diego
The Toronto Rock weren’t talked about that much in the preseason with a lot of injured guys coming back, and what every other reasons people tried to come up with. The Rock have looked like the best team in the league and have probably been the most consistent team as well. They have been led on offense Rob Hellyer with 44 points (17G/27A) and Tom Schreiber as he has tallied 42 points (15G/27A). Adam Jones and Kieran McArdle have also had a big hand in the offense with Jones tallying 34 points an McArdle with 22 points thus far.
On the defensive end the captain Challen Rogers has been the leader with 10 caused turnovers and 52 loose balls. Billy Hostrawser, Brad Kri, and Lattrell Harris have also contribute heavily to the Rock defense thus far. In net Nick Rose has been spectacular with 283 saves and a .784 save percentage.
2. Buffalo Bandits
Last Game: 19-9 win at Georgia
Next Game: 2/16 vs Calgary
After a little bit slower start, especially on the offensive end, than a lot of fans expected the Buffalo Bandits have come into their own over the past weeks and really been able to blow people away with their offensive play. On the defensive side of the ball they have progressed a ton through these first nine weeks of the season. The Bandits still haven’t been as consistent as some would like to see, but there is no denying that they are a serious contender in the east. On the offensive end the Bandits have been led by Shawn Evans with 61 points (19G/42A) and Dhane Smith with 53 points (12G/41A). Corey Small and Thomas Hoggarth have also played big roles in the Bandits offense as well. The Bandits have added even more offensive depth on the left side with the trade they made to acquire rookie Chris Cloutier from Philadelphia.
Defensively Steve Priolo has led the way with 15 caused turnovers and 59 loose balls. Nick Weiss and Mitch de Snoo have also been very good for Buffalo as well. Rookie transition player Ian MacKay has also been someone else the Bandits can lean on for defensive help this season. In net Matt Vinc had a slow start, as did the whole defense, but he has since picked it up over the past few weeks. Vinc has made 343 saves with a .794 save percentage. Zach Higgins has also gotten time in net every game as well and done quite well when he was in there.
3. Georgia Swarm
Last Game: 19-9 loss vs Buffalo
Next Game: 2/16 @ Colorado
Through the first nine weeks of the season Georgia has looked like one of the best teams in the league but they have had some bumps. Last week was their biggest loss as they were torn apart by Buffalo in a home contest. They also lost a close one to Toronto and to New England. The Swarm offense has been more consistent than the defense as they have had to grow a little on that side of the floor. The Swarm have been led on the offensive side of the ball by Lyle Thompson with 58 points (28G/30A) and Randy Staats with 57 points (18G/39A). Holden Cattoni, Shayne Jackson, and Zed Williams have also been big contributors on the offense thus far.
On the defensive end of the floor the Swarm have made big strides from week one until now. They started out the year with some slow starts but have started to come into their own as the season progresses. Jason Noble has been their biggest contributor on defense with 14 caused turnovers and 34 loose balls. Connor Sellars and John Ranagan have also been key contributors as well. In terms of transition defense, Lyle Thompson, Brendan Bomberry, and Chad Tutton have been the most effective. In net Mike Poulin has made 349 saves with a .781 save percentage. Kevin Orleman has gotten some time in net as well, even starting against New England a few weeks back when they had a double-header.
4. New England Black Wolves
Last Game: 16-13 win vs Rochester
Next Game: 2/16 @ Philadelphia
It’s been an up and down season for the New England Black Wolves, to say the least. They started off pretty hot but have since simmered down in recent weeks. After losing game one to Georgia the Black Wolves went 3-0 and then lost two straight before winning last week. While it has been a bumpy season they have been able to find some bright spots on both ends of the floor. Callum Crawford has been the leader on offense with 44 points (21G/23A). Reilly O’Connor, Stephan Leblanc, and Tyler Digby have also been some of the main contributors on the Black Wolves offense so far this season.
David Brock has led the New England defense with 51 caused turnovers and 40 loose balls. Adam Bomberry and Joel Coyle have also helped contribute on the defensive end of the floor. Bomberry has tallied 9 caused turnovers and 31 loose balls while Coyle has caused 8 turnovers and recorded 33 loose balls. In net it’s been a bit of a two goalie system with Alex Buque and Doug Jameison. While Jameison has played 7 games he has made 107 saves and has a .759 save percentage. Buque has a played in 6 games while making 174 saves and .773 save percentage.
5. Rochester Knighthawks
Last Game: 16-13 loss @ New England
Next Game: 2/22 vs Buffalo
The runner-up’s of the 2018 NLL Finals haven’t looked too hot here in the first half of the season. The Knighthawks two wins came against Philadelphia and Buffalo, and both were by a pretty decent margin of victory. In those wins their offense and defense shined. On offense Rochester has been led by Cody Jamieson with 42 points (16G/26A). Joe Resetartis has also tallied 36 points (14G/22A) thus far. Kyle Jackson and Austin Shanks have also contributed heavily on the offensive side of the floor.
Rochester’s defense hasn’t been the best but they have had their moments this season. The defense has been led by Graeme Hossack with 14 caused turnovers and 63 loose balls. James Barclay and Scott Campbell have also been key contributors on the defensive end for the Knighthawks as well. In net Angus Goodleaf has made 286 saves with a .757 save percentage. Warren Hill has also seen time in net as well with 46 saves and a .78 save percentage in 5 games.
6. Philadelphia Wings
Last Game: 12-10 loss vs Colorado
Next Game: 2/16 vs New England
The expansion franchise Philadelphia Wings have had a tough go round so far this season. The Wings are certainly more talented than a 1-7 team, but they have had a few bad bounces just not go their way. They have gone through a few trades already as they acquired Kevin Crowley from New England and most recently traded Chris Cloutier to Buffalo in exchange for Ryan Wagner and draft picks. Both trades have shaken up the Wings offense as bit. Kevin Crowley is now the teams second leading scorer with 24 points (10G/14A) while transition player Kiel Matisz leads the offense with 40 points (14G/26A).
On the defensive end of the floor the Wings have been more consistent in their roster and play on the floor. While they had some growing pains early, as most expansion teams, they have progressed as the season has gone on. The leader on defense has been Steph Charbonneau with 13 caused turnovers and 48 loose balls. Anthony Joaquim and Liam Patten have also contributed as well. In net the Wings have had a two goalie system with Doug Buchan and Davide DiRuscio. While each have played in all 8 games Buchan has played the majority of the minutes with 216 saves and a .735 save percentage.
1. San Diego Seals
Last Game: 14-6 loss vs Vancouver
Next Game: 2/15 @ Toronto
Don’t call them an expansion team. The San Diego Seals are sitting atop the west and rightfully so. The Seals came on to scene very hot and have been able to maintain that level of play. Last time out they did take a blowout loss to Vancouver, but that was coming off of two straight bye weeks a and you never know what to expect after that. On offense the Seals have been deadly with rookie sensation Austin Staats leading the way with 33 points (19G/14A). Dan Dawson and Garrett Billings have also been very good on the offensive side as well. That offense has been able to explode in a few games and really put the pressure on their opponent.
The Seals defense has been led by goaltender Frank Scigliano who has 302 saves with a .795 save percentage. Out in front of the net Cam Holding and Tor Reinhold are a few of the leaders and main contributors. Holding has 12 caused turnovers and 54 loose balls while Reinholdt has 11 caused turnovers and 55 loose balls.
2. Calgary Roughnecks
Last Game: 17-12 win @ Saskatchewan
Next Game: 2/16 @ Buffalo
After an eventful start to the season with the Curtis Dickson and Wes Berg situation things have settled in Calgary and they look very sharp now with Dickson back in the lineup. They did have a few ‘adjustment’ games when Dickson first came back, but they have looked pretty solid over the past few weeks with the offense clicking again. On the offensive side of the floor Dane Dobbie has led the way with 52 points (22G/30A). Rhys Duch has tallied 41 points (14G/27A) while Dan Taylor, Curtis Dickson, and Tyler Pace have also contributed as well. Rookie Chris Boushy has looked very good in games also.
On defense Christian Del Bianco has looked like one of the bets goalies in the league after shaking off some rust early on in the season. Del Bianco has made 344 saves with a .785 save percentage. Out in front of the net the Roughnecks have been led by Zach Currier with 21 caused turnovers and 90 loose balls. Dane MacRae and Mitch Wilde have also played a big role as well.
Last Game: 17-12 loss vs Calgary
Next Game: 2/16 @ Vancouver
The defending NLL champions have had a start unlike we have ever seen from a Rush team in quite some time. They have struggled early with guys signing and coming in after camp but then they seemed to get it together and were playing much better. As of recent the Rush haven’t looked very good with three straight losses. It is very odd to see the Rush look this bad and It’s difficult to tell what the exact problem is for them on either side of the floor. On offense they have been up and down while Mark Matthews leads the way with 40 points (15G/25A). Ben McIntosh and Jeff Shattler have also been key guys on the offensive side of the floor as well.
On defense they have been led by Kyle Rubisch with 13 caused turnovers and 59 loose balls. Chris Corbeil and Mike Messenger have also been contributors as well. In net for Saskatchewan Evan Kirk has looked god at times and bad at times. Currently Kirk has 224 saves with a .747 save percentage. The Rush really want to turn things around here on both ends of the floor as the second half of the season looms.
4. Vancouver Warriors
Last Game: 14-6 win @ San Diego
Next Game: 2/16 vs Saskatchewan
It’s been a weird season for the Vancouver Warriors as they have all new everything after the offseason events. They started the season pretty slow with just one win until a few weeks ago. Since then the Warriors have really stepped it up on both ends of the floor. That was apparent in their dominating win over San Diego last week. On offense Mitch Jones has led the way with 43 points (16G/27A) while Logan Schuss and Keegan Bal have been pretty dang good as well.
Aaron Bold and the Vancouver defense have had their struggles early on but they have been improving over the past few weeks. In net Bold has 172 saves with a .738 save percentage. Eric Penny has been pretty solid as well. Penny has seen action in 7 games and even gotten at least one start (maybe two). Penny has made 166 saves with a .806 save percentage. Out in front of the net Matt Beers has been leading the way with some really good play while Owen Barker and Ian Hawksbee have also been good as well.
5. Colorado Mammoth
Last Game: 12-10 win @ Philadelphia
Next Game: 2/16 vs Georgia
How the Colorado Mammoth have looked this season has been downright shocking. With two new coaches on the offensive and defensive side of the ball they struggled a lot very early in the season. Over the past few weeks the Mammoth have started to find themselves and started to come together. On offense they have been led by Ryan Benesch, Eli McLaughlin, and Jacob Ruest. Those guys have been pretty good with about 35 points each thus far. Rookie Kyle Killen has also stormed on to the scene there as well. The biggest shake up on their offense was trading Stephen Keogh to Rochester in exchange for draft picks.
Defensively the Mammonth improved faster than on the offensive side of the floor. Dillon Ward started very slow but has picked it up as of late. Ward has 254 saves with a .77 save percentage thus far. Out in front of the net Taylor Stuart has been having a stellar year with 13 caused turnovers and 49 loose balls.