National Lacrosse League 3 Stars: Week 7

Garrett Billings (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
Garrett Billings (Photo: Larry Palumbo)

Four players had weekends that were easily worthy of first star status in IL Indoor’s National Lacrosse League 3 Stars this week. That means a tough break for someone: the person having to pick the stars. Just kidding…obviously it means a player will be relegated to the Honourable Mentions even though they are deserving of top-level kudos. A week like this makes one ponder how to ascribe honours in the game. Defenders have it tough because they have to do a lot to stand out enough to earn an overall award without numbers or metrics backing them up. Goalies have an edge on their defensive brethren because a save percentage well north of .800 can be quite dazzling and the spectacular save is an attention-grabber. But let’s face it, the guys who put the ball in the net or orchestrate the plays that wind up with it getting there are gonna grab the lion’s share of attention. Make the jump to see how it all plays out this week.

First Star

Mark Matthews, Edmonton Rush
11 goals, 2 assists
Either of his games would have made him a solid candidate to appear here. That means it’s pretty much impossible not to drop him in the top slot. The big fella is a legit star in the league already, just like everyone figured he would be. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion he’ll be rookie of the year and an MVP candidate for years to come. Looks like the big question remaining is when will he lead the Rush to its first championship.

Second Star

Garrett Billings, Toronto Rock
6 goals, 4 assists
Another 3 Stars ranking dilemma arises. Does one great game deserve to rank ahead of two really good ones? We’re going to go with Billings here not just for the numbers—which are pretty impressive—or for leading the Rock to a huge win over their rivals for first overall, which was also impressive. When the competition is this close, little things can make a difference. And Billings’ backhand goal was as beautiful an example of the art as we’ve seen in a long time. Running one way, shooting back the other without any tell-tale indication the shot was coming, and spotting it perfectly—there’s no point using that goal as an instructional video because it’s beyond what most people could imagine, let alone do.

Third Star

Anthony Cosmo, Buffalo Bandits
54 saves, .900 save percentage
Hands up if you weren’t thinking, at least at the back of your mind, that the Bandits may be in trouble cause Coz wasn’t looking much at all like Coz. You in the back, be honest, put your hand up. Well, he was his old self on Saturday and he gets the Third Star nod not just for his numbers but because the way he played infected the whole Buffalo roster with confidence that helped the turn things around from a beating to a big win in the home and home with Rochester.

Honourable Mentions

Shawn Evans (Calgary): 2g, 11a, 13LB, 2FT. The winner of the screwed-over in the 3 Stars award, Evans was good against Toronto and really good against Minnesota. Week in, week out, he’s making it clear he’s ascended to the ranks of the elite in the league to anyone who didn’t think he was already there…Rhys Duch (Washington): 4g, 4a. A sign of how many great performances there were this week that Duchy’s 8-point night almost seems ho-hum. It wasn’t….Colin Doyle (Toronto): 3g, 4a. Ditto Doyle. Not ho-hum at all. The Rock captain was outstanding in helping to orchestrate the win that put Toronto solidly in first overall…Kiel Matisz (Minnesota): 2g, 4a. Having the kind of season that reinforces how ready young players are upon entering the league nowadays, and in most years would make him a legit Rookie of the Year candidate…Curtis Dickson (Calgary): 5g, 2a. The shorthanded hat trick in one period, including the last two Calgary goals in a one-goal win, were remarkable. But we can’t help wonder why they happened. How don’t you get someone back to stop the next two?…Ryan Benesch (Minnesota): 3g, 3a. You think Benny and his Jets aren’t asking themselves that question this week, too?…Dane Dobbie (Calgary): 8g, 4a. One of the best finishers around just keeps pouring in goals…Scott Ranger (Calgary): 7g, 4a. Sometimes big numbers aren’t as impressive as they might seem at first because they came in a romp, but Ranger put up his sock trick in a game the Riggers didn’t clinch till the final minute.

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 stamplax@hotmail.com.

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