Welcome to the last regular-season edition of IL Indoor’s National Lacrosse League 3 Stars, where we run smack dab into the quandary of weighing career achievement versus weekly performance. The ideal is when something happens that merits consideration under both criteria. The 3 Stars will come down somewhere in the middle, between overvaluing milestones and records on one hand and ignoring them on the other. I can sense you’re edgily chomping at the bit to see how we manage that balancing act. More likely, in fact, you’re just keen to see who gets the nod as the top stars in the game this week. Well, make the jump and your waiting will be over, your nervousness assuaged and your patience rewarded.
Lewis Ratcliff, Washington Stealth
7 goals, 4 assists
Ratcliff has had an off year offensively, right? Well, while he certainly struggled at times by his standards, his 11-point night in the season’s final game vaulted him into tenth in the NLL in scoring, tied with Adam Jones. You don’t want someone taking 19 shots every night, but when they keep finding the back of the net why would you want them to stop shooting? A win would have been a nice way to end the year, but dropping seven goals on someone’s not a bad consolation.
Garrett Billings, Toronto Rock
5 goals, 3 assists
Billings already had the single-season assists record sewed up when the Rock hit the floor, thanks the Wings playing an earlier game and Dan Dawson not catching him on the list. That didn’t appear to affect Billings’ game much. His role in the Rock offence has grown throughout the year, to the point where he’s running much of the show the past few weeks. As Colin Doyle said on Boxla Beat last week, “when Josh and Blaine and I are gone, it’ll be his team to run out there.” With the way he’s performing, Billings is getting the passing of the torch underway already.
Kyle Rubisch, Edmonton Rush
7 loose balls, 6 forced turnovers
Most weeks, the league leader in forced turnovers will have three or maybe four. Six is a huge number in that category. It was almost half of Edmonton’s total of 13. Rochester as a team had six in their game against Philadelphia. Rubisch is a beast on defence and by far the league leader in taking the ball away from opponents. He had 43 Fts for the season. That’s 65% more than second-place Jeff Gilbert. That would be like John Grant, Jr. scoring 188 points to Billings’ 114 or notching 68 goals to John Tavares’ second-place 41.
John Grant, Jr. (Colorado): 2g, 4a, 4lb, all-time single-season scoring record. There was a lot of pressure on Grant, much of it applied by himself. And it typical Junior fashion, he polished off his pursuit of the record with a beauty of a goal…John Tavares (Buffalo): At 43, he finished second in the league in goals and seventh in scoring. On Saturday, he had a hat trick and two assists. Of course the third goal was the winner in overtime. That’s just the way JT rolls…Brendan Mundorf (Philadelphia): 4g, 3a. Had a hand in every Wings goal in their 9-7 loss to the Knighthawks….Jordan MacIntosh (Minnesota): 2g, 4a, 13lb JMac is a real contender for Rookie of the Year. He’s played a massive role in the Swarm’s overachievement this year…Matt Vinc (Rochester): 35 saves, .833 save percentage. The Knighthawks couldn’t hope for a better development than Vino returning to the form that won him the last two NLL Goalie of the Year awards as they head into the playoffs…Colin Doyle (Toronto): 1g, 7a He had assists on four of Billings’ five goals. The latter’s role is clearly increasing, but Doyle is still the heart of the Rock offence…Rhys Duch (Washington): 4g, 4a,7lb. Duch continued to produce as the Stealth season spiralled away from them, and Saturday’s wrenching overtime loss was no exception…Ryan Benesch and Callum Crawford (Minnesota) 4 assists each, 3 goals for Benny and 2 for Crawford. Colorado had better find a way to control this dynamic duo if they want to get through to the division finals…Brodie Merrill (Philadelphia): 2a, 17lb, 3FT. The Wings captain continues to provide his teammates a model of how to pour yourself into the game…Stephen Keogh (Rochester): First four-goal game of his career and added a pair of assists in Rochester’s huge, home-playoff-game-clinching win…Brett Bucktooth and Athan Iannucci (Washington): Each had an 8-point night, Bucktooth with one goal and Nooch with a pair…Mark Steenhuis and Roger Vyse (Buffalo): Hat tricks for the Bandits. Steenhuis added 4 assists, Vyse 1…Joel Henry (Minnesota) Rookie notched his first hat trick, giving him 9 goals for the season…Shawn Williams (Edmonton): Decidedly not a rookie, Willy had his second hat trick of the season and a pair of assists.Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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