Roughnecks to open NLL playoffs May 3

Coach Curt Malawsky and the Roughnecks will play their 9th straight home playoff game on May 3. (Photo: Brad Watson)
Coach Curt Malawsky and the Roughnecks will play their 9th straight home playoff game on May 3. (Photo: Brad Watson)

The Calgary Roughnecks have good news for their fans. Not only do you have a National Lacrosse League playoff game to attend in Calgary, you can book your plans right now. The Roughnecks don’t know who they’re playing — it’s either the Colorado Mammoth or Vancouver Stealth — but whoever the opponent is, it’ll be there for a May 3 game at 9 p.m. (EST). A banner ad on Calgary’s website makes the announcement along with how to purchase tickets for the game. The Roughnecks, who play at the rival Edmonton Rush tonight, are in the NLL playoffs for the 11th straight season as they pursue the third Champion’s Cup in franchise history. Of the 18 playoff games in team history, 13 have been home games for the Riggers, including the last 9.

Rock keep alive hopes of hosting first-round playoff game

Stephan Leblanc and Rob Hellyer again had big nights as the Toronto Rock won their third straight game. (Photo: Graig Abel)
Stephan Leblanc and Rob Hellyer again had big nights as the Toronto Rock won their third straight game. (Photo: Graig Abel)

The Toronto Rock (8-9) are getting hot at the right time while the Buffalo Bandits (8-8) desperately need to change the path they’re on. Toronto won its third straight game with a 13-9 victory over the Bandits, who dropped their sixth in a row to tie the franchise-record losing streak they set last year. The Rock have allowed just 9 goals in each of their three straight wins while it was the fifth time in the six straight losses that Buffalo has scored fewer than 10 times. Stephan Leblanc and Kevin Ross each had hat tricks and Rob Hellyer continued his stellar play with a goal and 6 assists for the Rock, who were without Garrett Billings (out for the season with an ACL tear) and Josh Sanderson (flu) on the offensive end of the floor. John Tavares was the only multiple-goal scorer for the Bandits with two and he added a pair of assists. Nick Rose got the start in goal for Toronto and was excellent, stopping 48 of the 57 shots he faced. (Read More…)

NLL Week 17 Staff Picks

Win and they're in! With a W over the Swarm on Saturday the Mammoth secure the NLL's last playoff berth. (Photo: Alex Carroll)
Win and they're in! With a W over the Swarm on Saturday the Mammoth secure the NLL's last playoff berth. (Photo: Alex Carroll)

There are five games in week 17 of the NLL, four of which hold playoff implications with Vancouver and Colorado fighting for the last spot in the West Division and Buffalo and Toronto going head to head for a home playoff game in the East Division.

The Bandits (8-7) have defeated the Rock (7-9) by a score of 12-10 twice this season, once in Buffalo, once in Toronto. On Friday, the Bandits return to Toronto looking to snap a five game losing skid and sweep the series. Also on the line? A home playoff game; if Buffalo wins they’ll host Toronto in Banditland.
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Dirty Dozen: Projecting JT’s goals, awkward debut in Edmonton and ‘O’ woes in Buffalo

How many goals would John Tavares, right, have if he had a 16-game schedule for his entire career? (Photo: Dan Brodie)
How many goals would John Tavares, right, have if he had a 16-game schedule for his entire career? (Photo: Dan Brodie)

Ever since John Tavares scored his 800th National Lacrosse League goal on April 5, the obvious question has been floating around: How many goals would Tavares have if the NLL had a 16-game schedule for each of the 23 seasons he’s played? It’s an interesting question and a fun one, because it’s based on speculation, of course. And since we’re not one to back down from a challenge, we put on our thinking caps and came up with what we think could be an answer. We took it a step further and took a look at the league’s current Top 5 in career goals to project where they’d be as well if they’d all had 16-game seasons for the duration of their careers. (Read More…)

NLL announces new format for season awards with Aug. 31 ceremony in Toronto

Will Edmonton's Kyle Rubisch win another Defender of the Year award? We'll find out Aug. 31. (Photo: Dale MacMillan)
Will Edmonton's Kyle Rubisch win another Defender of the Year award? We'll find out Aug. 31. (Photo: Dale MacMillan)

The National Lacrosse League has announced a new format for the 2014 NLL Season Awards. For the first time, three finalists for each award will be named after the playoffs before the winners are announced at the first-ever NLL Season Awards Ceremony scheduled to take place in Toronto on Sunday, August 31. The announcement of the three finalists for each award begins on Tuesday, June 3 and continues throughout the course of the month while more details on the 2014 NLL Season Awards Ceremony are forthcoming. The 2014 NLL Season Awards are determined by a vote of the league’s Board of Governors, General Managers and Head Coaches. The Executive of the Year Award is awarded by a vote of the league’s Board of Governors. The Tom Borrelli Media Person of the Year Award is determined by the league’s Board of Governors and the NLL’s covering media.

IL Indoor Roundtable: Mammoth lurk as dangerous playoff foe, and who are the top rookies?

As the top draft choice, Logan Schuss was automatically one of the favourites for Rookie of the Year. How does he rate in the class now? (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
As the top draft choice, Logan Schuss was automatically one of the favourites for Rookie of the Year. How does he rate in the class now? (Photo: Larry Palumbo)

The Colorado Mammoth played a lot of games early in the National Lacrosse League season and lost most of them, coming out of the gates at 1-5. Since then, they’re a .500 team that has looked its best in the last couple of games against league-leading Edmonton, including handing the Rush their first loss of the season. Now rookie Dillon Ward is looking like a veteran goalie and the defence has got its act together, literally, playing the best it has as unit all season. So just how dangerous can this team be if, as is by far the most likely scenario, they get into the playoffs as the third seed in the West Division? Speaking of Ward, he has thrust himself firmly into the discussion for Rookie of the Year in the NLL. Has he or anyone else done enough to make themself a favourite, or is the field still wide open among five–or even six–contenders? Make the jump to hear what the IL Indoor panel of Stephen Stamp, Ty Pilson, Bob Chavez, Marty O’Neill and Teddy Jenner have to say. (Read More…)

Bandits, Rock ready for clash that could settle some playoff questions, plus the links

Buffalo and Toronto play each other tonight for a third time this season and there is plenty at stake. (Photo: Bill Wippert)
Buffalo and Toronto play each other tonight for a third time this season and there is plenty at stake. (Photo: Bill Wippert)

The Buffalo Bandits and Toronto Rock will be playoff opponents, this much we know. The when and the where is yet to be determined, but tonight’s National Lacrosse League game between these teams in Toronto could determine these mysteries. But that’s not the only issue at hand. While the Toronto Rock have been searching for consistency all season, winning their last 2 games may have them on track. The Bandits, meanwhile, have lost 5 straight and continue to search for that track. “Concern is the right word to use, I wouldn’t say panic or overreaction,” Buffalo defenseman Derek Suddons told Bandits.com. “We are glad it has happened now. It’s better to have a bit of a rut this time in the season and reassess what we can improve on and what we can do better.” (Read More…)

John Tavares: ‘Writing is on the wall that you can’t go on too much farther’

Bandits forward John Tavares, at age 45, says retirement has crossed his mind. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
Bandits forward John Tavares, at age 45, says retirement has crossed his mind. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)

As graceful as he is during lacrosse games, John Tavares is just as smooth in avoiding direct answers whenever the topic of retirement comes up. And when you’re 45 years old and old enough to be the father of some teammates, it comes up often. But last week, Tavares was a healthy scratch and he came out of the week off with some perspective. “It puts a question in my mind,” Tavares told the Buffalo News. “It hits you in your confidence. At 45, the writing is on the wall that you can’t go on too much farther.” Injuries in the past couple of seasons have slowed Tavares and while not playing last summer helped him heal, he felt behind the game when he reported to Bandits camp last fall. He went so far as to say he feels he’s in the way at times. But even with these thoughts going through his head, Tavares said he’s got to keep focused on helping the Bandits end their 5-game losing streak. “The last five games, I’ve struggled and the team has struggled. … I feel like I’m at the same pace the team is. I’m part of the problem.”

Who Ya Got? NLL Week 17 Fan Poll

They'll meet Friday and again in the playoffs, but will that be in Buffalo or Toronto? A Bandits W this weekend secures a home playoff berth. (Photo: Bill Wippert)
They'll meet Friday and again in the playoffs, but will that be in Buffalo or Toronto? A Bandits W this weekend secures a home playoff berth. (Photo: Bill Wippert)

Will it be the Stealth or Mammoth? Only one spot remains in the NLL playoffs.

Competing in a close game two weeks ago, the Colorado Mammoth did the (seemingly) unimaginable last Friday by handing the Edmonton Rush their first loss of the season. Trading goals for most of the game, the Toronto Rock netted the game winner early in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia on Saturday to secure the third and final East Division playoff berth and eliminate the Wings from contention. It wasn’t an OT winner like in week 13, but it was the second 10-9 W for the Minnesota Swarm over the Buffalo Bandits this season.
(Read More…)

Steve Dietrich and Adam Jones on Boxla Beat


Steve Dietrich and the entire Buffalo Bandits organization are feeling the heat of the team’s five-game losing streak, but they still believe in the players they are putting on the floor. That is part of the message that Chugger delivers as he appears this week on Boxla Beat on NLL Radio. Whether they have exactly the right mix of players to win a championship is something they’ll have to address in the off-season, as they do after every season, Dietrich says, but when they look at the individual players making up the roster the team’s front office and coaching staff like what they see. It’s just that things looked a lot brighter a month or so ago when the team was sitting at 8-2 and leading the National Lacrosse League’s East Division. There’s plenty of interesting talk with the Hall of Fame goalie and current GM of both the Bandits and Major Series Lacrosse’s Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks. It’s funny how quickly things can turn around in the NLL. Also on the show this week is forward Adam Jones of the Colorado Mammoth, for whom all is looking rosy after consecutive wins have put them on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. Just a few weeks ago the Mammoth were struggling mightily, Jones was out with a shoulder injury and they replaced their coaching staff. It all makes for a great episode of Boxla Beat for you to enjoy.