It was a busy week off the floor in the National Lacrosse League, with a few big-name players traded and an ugly incident in Minnesota that seemed to get the league as much negative publicity as the Twitter jersey game from last weekend brought positive publicity. The trades affected the league’s hold-outs – down two and up one – and seemed to start just as many trade rumours as they ended. On the floor, we had several significant players making their season debuts (all in the same game) and despite the fact that no game was won by less than three goals, the game-winners in three of the four games came with less than 6 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.
In Rochester, three different players who won a major NLL award in 2008 made their long-awaited season debuts on Saturday night. The most impactful was not the most talked-about of the three in recent weeks, 2008 MVP Athan Iannucci, who finished with a respectable goal and two assists. And it wasn’t 2008 Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Cousins, who chipped in an assist on the Knighthawks last goal. It was 2008 Rookie of the Year Craig Point, who scored three and assisted on two more including the game-winner in Rochester’s 15-12 come-from-behind victory. The Knighthawks, who were without five regulars including top scorer Cody Jamieson, were down 12-10 with less than 5 minutes to play in the fourth before scoring five unanswered goals. Brett Bucktooth continues to impress as a member of the Stealth, picking up 2.5 Money Baller points on a goal and 5 assists, while Point led the way for the Knighthawks with 5 MB points.
The Philadelphia Wings went into Toronto hoping to redeem themselves after a 15-6 drubbing at the hands of the Rock two weeks ago, and redeem themselves they did. The Wings and the Rock traded goals for the first half before the Wings took control, outscoring the Rock 8-4 in the second half on route to a 14-8 victory. Brendan Mundorf had 5 goals including the game-winner, Dan Dawson had a very strong game with 10 points (3+7), and Kevin Crowley added yet another hattrick to his career total (4 of them in 6 games) and added 5 assists. Garrett Billings, who is now leading the Rock in virtually all offensive categories, had his third hattrick of the year and an assist. In terms of Money Ballers points, the Wings dominance was evident by the Rock team total of 7.5 points led by Jamie Rooney’s two. The Wings were led by Mundorf, Dawson, and Crowley with 5, 4, and 3 MB points respectively.
Colorado’s quest for the second undefeated season in NLL history continues, though they have twice as many games to win than the Bandits did in 1993. The Mammoth ended the Swarm’s six-game home winning streak with a 12-7 victory at the Xcel Energy Center. John Grant, as usual, led the way with 7 points though only one goal and one assist counted for MB points. Gavin Prout led all MB scorers with 4.5, and Sean Pollock’s game winner gave him 4. Minnesota’s Andrew Watt picked up 3.5 MB points by scoring both Minnesota’s first goal of the game (to take a 1-0 lead) and their last (to tie it at 7).
In Calgary, Jeff Shattler scored the game-winner and picked up 7.5 MB points as the Roughnecks won this year’s first battle of Alberta 12-8 over the Rush. Shattler and Curtis Dickson had 5 points each and Daryl Veltman and Shawn Evans added 4 each, though Shattler was the only Roughneck with more than 2 MB points. For Edmonton, Scott Evans picked up 2 goals and 3 assists while Corey Small led the MB race for the Rush with 2.5 points.
With Colorado’s 6-0 start, it’s no surprise that John Grant is on top of the Money Ballers standings, and that Gavin Prout and Adam Jones are also in the top ten. But let’s take a look at the other teams, their records, and their Money Baller leaders.
|Buffalo||2-4||Luke Wiles, 11th|
|Philadelphia||4-2||Brendan Mundorf, tied for 5th|
|Rochester||3-4||Cory Vitarelli, 17th|
|Toronto||3-3||Garrett Billings, tied for 5th|
|Calgary||4-2||Curtis Dickson, 2nd|
|Colorado||6-0||John Grant, 1st|
|Edmonton||1-4||Ryan Ward, 22nd|
|Minnesota||3-3||Ryan Benesch, 7th|
|Washington||1-5||Rhys Duch, 4th|
Ranking the teams in order of their top MB scorer gives us Toronto and Philadelphia tied for first in the East followed by Buffalo and then Rochester. This is very similar to the standings but since first and last place in the East are separated by only two games, the difference isn’t that significant. In the West, we get Colorado, Calgary, Washington, Minnesota, and Edmonton, which is exactly the same as the West standings with one notable outlier – the 1-5 Stealth have Rhys Duch who’s fourth in the MB standings. In fact, only 5 of Duch’s 14 goals have not qualified for MB points.
Does it make sense for a team with such a record to have a player so highly ranked in this category? Sure, if he’s the highest-scoring player on a team that plays lots of close games, and therefore scores lots of game-tying and go-ahead goals even if his team ends up losing the games. Sure enough, the Stealth have played three one-goal games and two three-goal games. They did get blown out once but even though his team only scored 5 goals in that game, Duch ended up with 3 points.
Shattler is this week’s Money Ballers winner with 7.5 points, and moves from 9th into 3rd place in the MB standings. John Grant remains in the overall lead, with Curtis Dickson still in second place and Shattler only a half-point behind. Rhys Duch is in fourth place, a half-point ahead of both Garrett Billings and Brendan Mundorf who are tied for fifth.
Here are the Money Baller standings after seven weeks. The number in brackets after a player’s name is their ranking in the scoring race.
|As of Week 7||First||Fourth||OT|
|1||John Grant Jr. (1)||COL||4||1||3||11||0||0||1||0||1||0||2||0||0||1||30.0|
|2||Curtis Dickson (19)||CAL||2||3||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||1||1||2||0||0||24.5|
|3||Jeff Shattler (T15)||CAL||4||2||3||5||0||0||0||0||1||1||2||0||0||0||24.0|
|4||Rhys Duch (T9)||WAS||3||3||3||4||0||0||1||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||22.0|
|5||Garrett Billings (5)||TOR||2||5||3||4||0||1||1||1||1||0||1||0||0||0||21.5|
|Brendan Mundorf (T17)||PHI||3||4||3||1||1||0||1||0||1||0||0||1||0||1||21.5|
|7||Ryan Benesch (T9)||MIN||1||2||4||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||1||0||21.0|
|8||Gavin Prout (8)||COL||0||3||3||6||0||0||0||1||0||1||0||2||1||0||20.0|
|Dan Dawson (2)||PHI||1||7||1||6||0||1||1||2||0||0||0||2||0||1||20.0|
|10||Adam Jones (14)||COL||1||1||3||2||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||2||0||1||19.5|
|11||Luke Wiles (T15)||BUF||2||3||5||2||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||18.0|
|12||Drew Westervelt (T28)||PHI||2||1||1||1||0||0||1||0||1||0||2||0||0||0||17.5|
|John Tavares (T6)||BUF||2||6||5||6||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||17.5|
|14||Kevin Crowley (T9)||PHI||2||2||4||1||0||1||0||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||17.0|
|15||Scott Ranger (T28)||CAL||1||2||2||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||1||0||0||0||15.5|
|Shawn Evans (T21)||CAL||1||6||4||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||15.5|
|Weekly leader||Overall leader|
|Week 1||Scott Ranger||Scott Ranger|
|Week 2||Dane Dobbie||Scott Ranger|
|Week 3||John Grant||John Grant|
|Week 4||Garrett Billings||John Grant|
|Week 5||Rhys Duch||John Grant|
|Week 6||Ryan Benesch||John Grant|
|Week 7||Jeff Shattler||John Grant|
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