Wow, what a weekend in the National Lacrosse League! Three one-goal games featuring lead changes in the final two minutes of play. And sprinkled through the four games of Week 3 of the 2013 season were enough brilliant performances to make picking IL Indoor’s 3 Stars a formidable task. We saw the two best goalies in the league so far this year go head to head and not disappoint. A super-rookie and a living legend who just keeps getting better both put on awesome scoring displays. The Wings took flight, the Rush exploded and the greatest American hero returned in style. Make the jump to see how it all played out in this week’s 3 Star selections.
John Grant, Jr., Colorado Mammoth
6 goals, 2 assists
Junior ran away with the IL Indoor best shooter poll and after Saturday night’s display he just may garner some more votes. He almost single-handedly kept the Mammoth in the game until they could climb their way out of an early hole and beat the Roughnecks in overtime. For all his amazing shooting, his best play of the night may have been the pass he rifled to Jamie Lincoln for a quick-stick goal on the edge of the crease. By the way, Cliff Smith isn’t on pace for Grant’s scoring record any more after posting just one assist yesterday, but guess who’s close? That’s right, Junior is a quarter of a point per game off the pace to match last year’s mark. After watching Saturday, is anyone sure he can’t do it again?
Brandon Miller, Philadelphia Wings
53 saves, .883 save percentage
Mea culpa. I left Miller out of last week’s honourable mentions when he clearly deserved to be there. No such oversight this week. A lot of Wings played well to leave Philly as the only undefeated team in the league after three weeks, but none was more responsible for their comeback win over the Rock than B Miller. Nick Rose has gotten plenty of attention for his excellent start and was great again Saturday at the ACC, but Miller one-upped Rosey with his sensational play. Shall we just send those two the tickets for their flights to the All-Star Game now?
Mark Matthews, Edmonton Rush
4 goals, 5 assists
Everyone knew he’d be great in the NLL but it was hard to imagine it would be this fast. Matthews is tied with Grant atop the league at 7 points per game and had a similar impact for the Rush in their huge 18-10 crushing of the Stealth. It’s not just the 9 points he put up that were impressive, it was the variety of ways he earned them. Matthews scored twice on outside bombs and twice on quick catch-and-shoot goals cutting through the slot and his passing was just as impressive as his shooting.
Nick Rose (Toronto): 48 saves, .857 save percentage. Rose gave up one goal on 21 shots in the first half. His save rate dropped to “only” .800 in the second half but throughout the game it took excellent shots by Philadelphia to beat him…Casey Powell (Rochester): 2g, 4a. CP returned to the Knighthawks with panache, putting up a team-high 6 points…Shawn Evans (Calgary): 4g, 3a. Evans has emerged as the clear leader of the Roughnecks’ O…Shawn Williams (Buffalo): 2g, 6a…Rhys Duch (Washington): 3g, 2a. Third straight hat trick and looked good on a day when not that many Stealth did…Drew Westervelt (Philadelphia): 2g. His second Air Gait won the game for the Wings with 11 seconds to play…Reid Mydske (Edmonton): 2g, 6lb, 2FT. Another strong night defensively and Mydske scored a pair of goals that were in transition but weren’t breakaways. Both involved setting his feet and firing like a sniper…Matt Roik (Colorado): 29 saves, .829 save percentage. If there were a backup goalie of the week award Roik would take it hands-down for his performance in helping the Mammoth come back to beat Calgary…Brodie Merrill (Philadelphia): 1g, 10LB. Scored a dandy, hoovered loose balls with aplomb and led a Wings D that made the night difficult for Rock forwards…Colin Doyle (Toronto): 2g, 2a. The best of the bunch offensively for the Rock and the only one to beat Miller more than once…Geoff Snider (Calgary) 2g, 1a, 12LB, 22/25 faceoff wins. Gave the Riggers possession after almost every goal and potted a couple himself. He was also credited with nine forced turnovers but I watched the game keeping an eye out for them and didn’t see any. Nothing against Snider—he didn’t award himself the FTs—but that number may be the clarion call for the NLL to make an effort to explain to its official scorers just what constitutes a forced turnover…Bob Snider (Washington) 2g, 1a, 10LB, 27/32 faceoff wins. Eerily similar numbers for the brothers Snider. Bob even celebrates his faceoff breakaway goals like his older sibling…Ryan Ward and Corey Small (Edmonton): 3g, 3a; 2g, 5a respectively. Though overshadowed by Matthews’ display, both were excellent for the Rush…Jon Sullivan (Colorado): You rarely see #23 on the back of a Mammoth jersey near an opponent when they score at even strength…Sandy Chapman (Toronto): 8LB. The leader of a Rock defensive effort that limited Philadelphia to three dunk goals, two PP rockets by Kevin Crowley, a beautiful transition finish by Joel White and a pair goals that finished off precision passing plays. Nothing came easy for the Wings against Chappy and the Rock D…Kevin Crowley (Philadelphia): 3g, 2a. The straw that stirs the drink…Stephen Keogh (Rochester): 3g, 2a…Mike Hominuck (Buffalo): 3g. With the video feed from the Bandits win over the Knighthawks not working, Keogh and Hominuck get credit for posting posting hat tricks sight unseen…Gavin Prout (Colorado): 1g, 6a. It’s possible to have quiet 7-point nights when you play with Junior…Jeff Reynolds (Philadelphia): 8LB, 15/19 faceoff wins. Has definitely forced his way into the small fraternity of elite faceoff men in the league…Steven Holmes (Philadelphia): The prototype of the American defender who brings great coverage skills from the field to the box and gradually evolves outstanding floor awareness in the tight confines…Mike Poulin (Calgary): 41 saves, .759 save percentage. Not earth-shaking numbers for Poulin, but he kept the Roughnecks ahead almost the whole way through a game in which their normally stout defence allowed Colorado a ton of high-percentage shots. His overtime-forcing saves just before the buzzer alone were spectacular enough to warrant consideration for this list.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 email@example.com.
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