With 31 points through 4 games, Shawn Evans of the Calgary Roughnecks leads the National Lacrosse League in scoring. And that’s to the surprise of absolutely no one. The younger Evans has long been a points producer during his time with the Rochester Knighthawks and now that he’s in his second season with the Riggers, he’s just doing what he does. Except there’s something about this season that might put the fear of offense in opponents: He’s in shape. That’s not to suggest Evans has been a slug in the past. It’s just that this year, there’s a sharpened focus on fitness. “I worked a lot in the offseason to get my body into better shape so it feels better than in past years when I was slower starting and finished stronger,” Evans told CalgaryRoughnecks.com.
“I want to be on my game early. After last year getting knocked out in the first round, we want to be ready and we want to get going this year.”
Yeah, last year. That’s the year the Riggers were knocked out of the playoffs earlier than expected. Losing stings the pride of any professional athlete, especially when the pursuit of championships consumes you. And even thought Evans has 1 NLL title, a Minto Cup and 4 Mann Cups, he wants more.
“You get remembered on championships and not individual awards,” he said. “The biggest thing is to keep winning championships from a team perspective.”
A 0-2 start to this season wasn’t what the Roughnecks or Evans envisioned. So when the team kicked off a 2-game road swing last weekend, Evans took control. He was nearly unstoppable in Friday’s win over Colorado, scoring 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) by halftime and finishing the game with a team-record 13 points.
“When we were down 4-0 so we knew we had to do something,” Evans said. “When the first couple shots went in, things were going good for us. Probably our next eight shots hit the back of the net so when that happens, it’s always easy.”
Evans scored 6 points in Sunday’s win over Philadelphia and just like that, the Roughnecks are 2-2 and right back in it. And they have Evans, the NLL Player of the Month, to thank for a large part of that.
Come May, Evans and the Roughnecks are hoping they have each other to thank for an NLL championship.
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The Edmonton Rush are 1-2 as defending West Division champions, but they have every intention of repeating. It’s just going to take some time to get in synch, coach and GM Derek Keenan says. “We have six new players on offense this year and it takes time. But our players have to understand that you aren’t going to score on every possession and not to get discouraged. They must grind away at it.” (EdmontonRush.com) … Not that he wants to lose, but Buffalo Bandits forward Luke Wiles told team play-by-play man John Gurtler that losing often says more about a team than winning. As in, how a team responds after a loss and this year the Bandits are doing a better job in that department, said Wiles. “To be honest with you, it’s pretty easy to win in this league but it’s very, very difficult to lose. So it shows your true colors when you lose, and can rebound after losses.” (Bandits.com) … At 1-2 so far this season, the Minnesota Swarm are 1 win away from reaching .500 and a win Saturday night in Colorado will help the Swarm get to where they want to be. “Nobody wants to go 1-3 when you’re right within grasp to get to .500, and get back into the winning column. You don’t want to go the other way,” coach Joe Sullivan said. (MNSwarm.com) … Veteran forward Dan Dawson will take over the Rochester Knighthawks’ Twitter account on Monday at noon to answer questions from fans. He’ll take questions for an hour. (Knighthawks.net) … The Toronto Rock have been to Buffalo before. And so has defenseman Chris White. He just hasn’t been there as a member of the Rock after leaving Buffalo as a free agent to sign with the Rock. “I’m feeling a little bit of excitement. Once you get on the floor you have to put those feelings and thoughts aside and focus on the game and the game plan we’ve got for Buffalo,” said White. (TorontoRock.com).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 firstname.lastname@example.org or go to RochesterSports.com.
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