NLL Week 2 Rookie Report: Matthews does as expected, but late-round gems shine too

No. 1 pick Mark Matthews scored 5 points for the Rush, including a goal on his first NLL shot. (Photo: Dale MacMillian)
No. 1 pick Mark Matthews scored 5 points for the Rush, including a goal on his first NLL shot. (Photo: Dale MacMillian)

Nine of the 10 first-round draft picks were in action this weekend and by all accounts, the fellas did solid jobs in their National Lacrosse League debuts. No. 1 pick Mark Matthews and No. 8 pick Curtis Knight each had 5-point nights in Edmonton’s loss to Toronto, while No. 5 pick Dhane Smith got past his jitters of Friday’s opener to come back Saturday and score 3 goals for Buffalo, including the winner. What’s pretty cool, though, is to see how well Matthews did as the No. 1 overall pick for the Rush and how well Kyle Buchanan did for the Stealth — as the No. 48 overall pick. Buchanan has 9 points through 2 games for the Stealth and is the lowest pick from last year’s entry draft to make an NLL roster. About the only way to do better than finding a gem late in the draft is finding an undrafted gem, and Philadelphia’s Ethan Farrell just might fight that bill. It’s early, of course, but they’re all part of the discussion in our first installment of the Rookie Report.

Here they are, 1 through 10, for the first week. It’s bound to change, especially through the first few weeks as guys find their grooves and roles. The depth and breadth of this Class of 2013 may not approach what we saw in 2012, but then again, which class will? Last year was something special but make no mistake, the fellas of 2013 are no slouches.

1. Mark Matthews, Edmonton: The big left-handed forward out of Oshawa did as expected, dropping 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in his debut with the Edmonton Rush. The No. 1 overall pick in the entry draft even scored on his first NLL shot, 44 seconds into the game, but the Rush lost their opener, 10-9, to the Toronto Rock.

2. Dhane Smith, Buffalo: The right-handed transition man out of Kitchener, Ont., had 2 games to show his wares in his NLL debut weekend. He was a solid 1-1 with 2 loose balls and a forced turnover in Friday’s 13-8 road loss to Philadelphia. The No. 5 overall pick found his groove at home in Saturday’s 13-12 win over Minnesota with 3 goals (on 11 shots) and 1 assist, including the winner at the 10:49 mark.

3. Curtis Knight, Edmonton: The No. 8 overall pick was impressive with a 3-2 showing in Edmonton’s loss to Toronto on Sunday afternoon. And for being on the smaller side, it was nice to see his lack of fear on his third goal as he followed an open lane from the top right into the crease to bury his third goal late in the third quarter. The right-handed forward out of Oshawa scored all 3 of his goals on the power play.

4. Kyle Buchanan, Washington: The right-handed forward out of Nepean, Ont., is off to a solid start with 2 games already under his belt. He had 1 goal and 4 assists in Saturday’s 17-13 road win over the Colorado Mammoth after dishing out 4 assists in last weekend’s winning opener at home against the Rochester Knighthawks. He also had 6 loosies against the Mammoth. Not bad for the No. 48 overall pick.

5. Shayne Jackson, Minnesota: The left-handed forward out of Bowmanville, Ont., was 3-1on just 4 shots in Saturday’s 13-12 road loss to the Bandits. Two of his 3 goals came on the power play, and the No. 4 overall draft pick also threw some very nice stick fakes on the crease. He also scooped 5 loose balls in the loss.

6. Tyler Garrison, Washington: The right-handed defenseman out of Coquitlam, B.C., has been a solid addition to a Washington Stealth defense that’s been considerably more aggressive and effective than it was last season. He scored a nice goal in transition in Saturday’s 17-13 road win over the Mammoth, scooped 4 loose balls and forced a pair of turnovers.

7. Ethan Farrell, Philadelphia: There once was an undrafted free agent forward from Nantucket. OK, maybe it’s not as poetic as our favorite limerick, but if this kid out of Lynchburg College via Massachusetts is going to play every week like he did in Friday’s opening win over the Bandits, he’s going to become a regular here. And the wicked flow doesn’t hurt, either. Farrell had 2 goals and 1 assist against the Bandits, and his first goal will be one to remember. Not only was it Philadelphia’s first goal of the game, but it came on a very nice dive across the crease.

8. Brock Sorensen, Minnesota: The big left-handed transition man out of Peterborough was activated from the PUP list just before Saturday’s game in Buffalo and he looked liked he belonged on an NLL floor. He didn’t score any points, but did scoop 5 loosies and more than justified his No. 2 draft selection position.

9. Joe Restarits, Calgary: The right-handed forward out of Hamburg had a very nice debut with the Roughnecks, scoring 1 goal and assisting on 2 in Saturday’s 13-11 home loss to the Toronto Rock. He added 3 loosies in the effort, too.

10. Rob Campbell, Philadelphia: The right-handed transition man out of Delta, B.C., was second on the team with 9 loose balls to help Philadelphia win its opener at home against the Bandits. Drafted by the Knighthawks, who was then shipped to Philadelphia as part of the trade for Paul Rabil, Campbell is adding energy to a defensive unit that sorely needed it.

Honorable mention: Minnesota Swarm D Alex Crepinsek had 4 loose balls in Saturday’s loss to Buffalo … Minnesota FT Kiel Matisz was scoreless on 6 shots in Saturday’s loss to Buffalo but did have 6 loose balls … Calgary Roughnecks F Matthew Dinsdale had 2 loose balls in Saturday’s home loss to Toronto … Buffalo T Hayden Smith scooped a pair of loose balls in Friday’s road win over Philadelphia, but did not play in Saturday’s home game against the Swarm … Washington D Justin Pychel scooped a loose ball in Saturday’s win at Colorado … Washington D Tim Henderson had 1 assist, 1 loose ball and an ugly elbowing major in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win at Colorado … Washington’s undrafted T Mitch McMichael scooped 4 LBs in Saturday’s win at Colorado after registering his first NLL in last week’s opener against the Knighthawks … Philadelphia’s Duke Duo of Mike Manley (1) and CJ Costabile (3) combined for 4 loosies in Friday’s win over Buffalo … Toronto F Kyle Belton played in both games this weekend, forcing 2 turnovers in Saturday’s road win over Calgary, then scooping a pair of loosies in Sunday’s win at Edmonton.

Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at bob.chavez@nllinsider.com or go to RochesterSports.com.

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