Hard to believe we’re heading into Week 6 of the National Lacrosse League, but here it is. Two games away from the halfway point, and there really aren’t that many surprises emerging. Top pick Mark Matthews is doing what was expected and his 21 points through 4 games puts him on a pace for 84 points, 5 shy of the rookie record of 89 set by Rhys Duch in 2009. What is worth keeping a closer eye on is what’s going on right behind Matthews. Dhane Smith of Buffalo is continuing his solid offensive production, while Minnesota’s Shayne Jackson has moved into second place in the rookie scoring race. The trio is laying the foundation for what could be an exciting scoring race but there is a party crasher looming in Minnesota’s Kiel Matisz. Let’s see what’s up after Week 5.
1. Mark Matthews, Edmonton Rush: He scored 2 goals, one of them an absolute beaut, and scooped 5 loose balls for the Rush’s home loss to rival Calgary. The pair of points was the lowest offensive output of the season for the left-handed forward out of Oshawa, but he’s still the team leader in goals with 10. He took 14 shots, the second time in 4 games he’s taken 10 or more, and his 21 points (10-11) leads all rookie scorers.
2. Dhane Smith, Buffalo Bandits: The right-handed transition man out of Kitchener, Ont., cooled off a bit, even though he had 1 goal and 1 assist. The downside? He took a team-high 13 shots. He did have 5 loose balls in the home loss to Toronto, though, and is 9 goals leads the Bandits. For the season, he’s got 16 points (9-7).
3. Shayne Jackson, Minnesota Swarm: He scored just 1 goal but did have 4 assists in the road loss to the Colorado Mammoth. He scored the first goal of the fourth quarter to cut Colorado’s lead to 10-8, but the Mammoth responded with a 4-goal run to put the game out of reach. The left-handed forward out of Bowmanville, Ont., is second among rookie scorers with 19 points (7-12).
4. Curtis Knight, Edmonton Rush: The forward was scoreless on 6 shots but did have 2 assists, both in the first half of Saturday’s home loss to Calgary. The right-handed forward out of Oshawa is scoreless in his last 2 games (9 shots) and has 14 points (4-10) through 4 games.
5. Kyle Buchanan, Washington Stealth: The forward didn’t have a goal but did have an assist in 7-6 road loss to Rochester, a game that did not lend itself to offensive stats for anyone. After scoring 4 or more points in 3 of his first 4 games, the right-hander out of Nepean, Ont., has just 2 points (2 assists) in his last 2 games.
6. Kiel Matisz, Minnesota Swarm: He had 1 goal and 2 assists with all 3 of those points coming in the first half of the Swarm’s road loss to Colorado. He also had 4 loose balls and forced 2 turnovers. The right-handed forward out of Stoney Creek, Ont., came into the game with consecutive hat tricks but the shots didn’t fall for most of his 8 shots on goal. Still, he’s rolling, scoring 13 of his 14 points (7-7) in 3 of his last 4 games.
7. Brock Sorensen, Minnesota Swarm: The left-handed transition man out of Peterborough had a pair of assists, his first of the season, and5 loose balls in his team’s road loss to the Mammoth.
8. Joe Resetarits, Calgary Roughnecks: He scored 1 goal and assisted on 2 others, all in the track meet of a first half, in Calgary’s road win over rival Edmonton. The right-handed forward out of Hamburg, N.Y., also scooped 3 loose balls and has scored at least 1 goal in 3 of his 4 games this season.
9. Tyler Garrison, Washington Stealth: The defender out of Coquitlam, B.C., had 1 assist and 3 loose balls in the team’s road loss to Rochester. He also forced a team-high 2 turnovers against the Knighthawks. He has scored at least 1 point in 4 straight games and has forced 2 turnovers in 4 of 6 games.
10. Alex Crepinsek, Minnesota Swarm: The right-handed defenseman out of Oakville, Ont., forced 2 turnovers in Minnesota’s road loss to the Colorado Mammoth.
Honorable mention: Minnesota Swarm F Matt Gibson made his NLL debut and his first professional goal was a beauty. Midway through the third quarter with the goalie pulled on a delayed penalty, Gibson found himself alone behind the cage. He faked a pass to push Colorado G Matt Roik to the far post and Gibson dove from behind to dunk the ball and cut Colorado’s lead to 9-6 … Colorado F Jaeden Gastaldo made his NLL debut and it was the kind of game that earns you more playing time: 1 goal, 1 assist and 4 loosies … Toronto Rock D Kyle Belton did not play against Buffalo, making Toronto and Rochester the only teams to not play a rookie this past weekend … Buffalo D Hayden Smith had 1 assist, but it’s his 5-minute high sticking major that is sure to get him an earful from the coaches. The penalty negated a Buffalo power play in the fourth quarter of a tight game … Washington F Mitch McMichael was scoreless on 2 shots against Rochester, but did have a season-high 7 loose balls … Washington D Justin Pychel had 3 loose balls against Rochester … Calgary F Matthew Dinsdale did not play against 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or go to RochesterSports.com.
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