Every week IL Indoor hands out 15 varying levels of praise in our Three Star Challenge, at the end of the season naming our Three Star champ, last year Casey Powell taking the honour. Check back every week for the previous weekend’s best NLL performers.
First Stars (50 Points)
Brandon Miller – Wings
Another sensational effort from Brandon Miller, but unfortunately another loss for the Philadelphia Wings. With 60-shots against (Wings themselves had just 35) the Philly backstop still managed to keep the spread somewhat close. Miller was one of this year’s most played (853Mins) and peppered (708) tenders and could pull in a massive haul if the Wings were ever willing to part with him. As irreplaceable many feel he is in Philadelphia, his trade value may never be higher. Toronto’s soon to be available starting gig seems like a perfect fit. Just saying.
Ryan Benesch – Minnesota Swarm
Another hot night for Minnesota’s clutch sniper, Benesch was a big reason for the Swarm’s second half comeback against the Wings, dropping a hat-trick and and a pair of helpers. The MVP contender also picked up another couple of forced turnovers in Week 15, easily leading all NLL forwards in the defensive heavy stat.
Chris Levis – Colorado Mammoth
Forget that the Roughnecks were missing some of their higher profile talent (the Calgary Sun’s Ian Busby tweeted… “Roughnecks F Dane Dobbie missed Friday with passport issue. He put it in the wash. They didn’t let him on plane to Denver.”), Levis still faced steady heat and continuously shut Calgary down while leading Colorado to a post-season clinching 11-7 win over the regular season West champs.
Kevin Buchanan – Blazers
When Buchanan heats up, especially from downtown, there really is just no stopping him, the B’s still learning the indoor ropes forward ripping 5 past a previously extremely stingy combo of Mike Thompson and Angus Goodleaf, even adding 4 helpers. Before the season started we said, “Don’t be surprised to see him bury upwards of 30-goals this winter.” In 15 2011 starts, Buchanan fell just 6 short of 30, a number only 11 players were able to hit this year. Buchanan was also the third highest goal scoring American behind only reigning MVP Casey Powell (34) and Drew Westervelt (27).
Brodie Merrill – Edmonton Rush
Merrill led a two-way game that coupled with a clicking Rush offense snowed the Toronto Rock in that 18-14 shootout win. Even with a pair of regular season games left this upcoming weekend, the Edmonton captain will finish 2011 leading the NLL in loose balls (187). And for those that feel Merril simply scoops up his teammates’ defensive ball jarring efforts, think again, Merrill also leading the NLL with 30 forced turnovers this year.
Second Stars (30 Points)
John Grant – Colorado Mammoth
The Mammoth’s prized off-season addition keeps pouring it on pretty thick down the stretch, adding another triple against the Roughnecks, including a fourth period short handed winner that locked up Colorado’s post-season ticket.
Jamie Rooney – Boston Blazers
No Casey or Ryan Powell, no problem, because on top of Buchanan’s impressive 9-point night the B’s also got a great effort from Jamie Rooney, netting a hat-trick including a pair in the fourth alone that helped simmer down any potential Buffalo comeback. One of the Blazers’ best single game secondary scoring efforts lineup-wide this year. Can they do it again the playoffs?
Matt Vinc - Knighthawks
Vinc dealt with the regular Washington Stealth offensive heat (53-shots), keeping them to just 10-goals, just 5 coming during even-strength lacrosse. The Hawks’ backstop set the tone to Rochester’s 18-10 win over the defending champs, allowing just a single PP goal on 13 shots in the first period.
Andrew Watt – Swarm
Few if anyone has “transitioned” the way Watt has this year, adding another couple this past weekend against the Wings. Some may have excelled more in set defensive or offensive roles during separate times in games, but Watt was the definition of a true Transition Player this year.
Corey Small – Edmonton Rush
No knock on Small, but can’t believe anyone would have had him leading the Rush point charts this year, adding another hat-trick and 4-assists vs. the Rock.
Third Stars (10 Points)
Mac Allen & Ian Hawksbee - Colorado Mammoth
Huge effort from the Mammoth’s defensive unit across the board, but we’ll give a pair of Third Stars to Allen & Hawksbee, who cut down time and space and ate up some good combined LB and FT numbers while Colorado held the slightly depleted Calgary Roughnecks to just 7-goals in Week 15. While the additions of John Grant and Gavin Prout have taken up most of the headlines, over the past several months the team has also added two of the best pure D guys in Allen and Hawksbee.
Bobby Snider - Stealth
The Stealth mighta got bombed by the Knighthawks, but we can’t ignore Bobby Snider’s continued sheer dominance at the face-off circle, going 29/31 against Rochester on Saturday night. His talents were wasted in Philly last year, taking less face-offs in his entire rookie season (15/28) than draw wins in Week 15 alone. He’ll finish just behind big bro Geoff on the 2011 face-off W leaderboard, but owning about a percentage better winning percentage.
Stephen Hoar – Toronto Rock
Defensively the Rock were less than 3 Star Challenge worthy in Week 15, but gotta applaud Hoar for trying to keep them competitive against the Rush with that unlikely hat-trick and then his decent face-off numbers too (15/26).
Rory Smith – Minnesota Swarm
Minnesota allowed a super slim 35-shots against in their win over Philadelphia, playing great team concept defense and getting a great individual performance by Team Canada defender Rory Smith, who played with a ton of jam and frustrated Philly forwards all night.
Below, check out our almost complete 3 Star Challenge leaderboard, both John Grant and Ryan Benesch playing this upcoming weekend and still with a chance to pass or match longtime leader Jeff Shattler.
|Jeff Shattler||CAL||29G, 46A, 4SHG, 93LB||5||0||0||250|
|John Grant||COL||35G, 43A, 8PPG, 2SHG||3||2||0||210|
|Ryan Benesch||MIN||43G, 44A, 2SHG, 15FT||3||1||2||200|
|Bob Watson||TOR||10.09GAA, .788SV%||2||3||0||190|
|Colin Doyle||TOR||27G, 43A, 4PPG, 3SHG||3||0||2||170|
|Dan Dawson||BOS||31G, 59A, 5PPG, 65LB||2||2||1||170|
|Stephan Leblanc||TOR||33G, 43A, 4PPG, 1SHG||2||2||0||160|
|Mike Thompson||BUF||10-2, 9.49GAA, .789SV%||3||0||0||150|
|Brandon Miller||PHI||548SV, 854Mins, 774SV%||2||0||3||130|
|Casey Powell||BOS||34G, 47A, 14PPG, 2SHG||2||1||0||130|
|John Tavares||BUF||30G, 42A, 4PPG, 1SHG||2||1||0||130|
|Lewis Ratcliff||WSH||41G, 51A, 9PPG, 2SHG||2||1||0||130|
|Scott Ranger||CAL||29G, 32A, 12PPG, 3SHG||2||1||0||130|
|Brodie Merrill||EDM||9G, 38A, 187LB, 30FT||2||0||1||110|
|Kyle Rubisch||BOS||36PIM, 143LB, 20FT||1||2||0||110|
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