NLL Week 7 Rookie Report: Matthews puts on a show with 11-goal weekend for Rush

Justin Pychel (20) is among the 4 or 5 rookies who have re-energized defense in Washington. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)
Justin Pychel (20) is among the 4 or 5 rookies who have re-energized defense in Washington. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)

We knew Mark Matthews was going to be good. But this good? The left-handed forward scored 11 goals in 2 games over the National Lacrosse League weekend. Better yet, the Rush won both of those games and they went from being a 1-4 team to a 3-4 team in the span of just more than 24 hours. Matthews pulled away in a big way from other rookie scoring contenders, putting a 13-point cushion between him and Minnesota’s Shayne Jackson, who is second in scoring among rookies with 25 points. Matthews has been outstanding in the early part of the season as he adjusted to the pace and quickness of the NLL. But this past weekend’s display suggests his learning period just might be over and he’s in a comfort zone that could be the early chapters of what’s to be a storied and historic NLL career.

1. Mark Matthews, Edmonton Rush: The left-handed forward out of Oshawa had 6 goals and 1 assist in Friday’s home win over Washington. He scored the first 2 goals of the fourth quarter to help the Rush pull away from a 12-7 lead. He followed that with a 5-goal, 1-assist performance in Saturday’s road win over Colorado. That’s a 13-point weekend, 11 of which were goals. All 11 of those goals came at even strength, meaning he didn’t score any “cheap” power-play goals. Of his 23 goals this season, only 2 have come on with the extra man on the floor. His 38 points (23-15) continue to lead the team in scoring and his 23 goals is tops in the NLL. He ranks fifth in NLL scoring.

2. Dhane Smith, Buffalo Bandits: The right-handed transition man out of Kitchener, Ont., had 2 goals (on 12 shots), 1 assist and 4 loose balls in Saturday’s road win over Rochester. His 11 goals are tied with Aaron Wilson for the team lead and his 60 shots on goal is by far the most on the team, by at least 12. He was held to a single point 2 weekends ago, but he responded with a 3-point effort on Saturday to push his season total to 20 points (11-9).

3. Shayne Jackson, Minnesota Swarm: the left-handed forward out of Bowmanville, Ont., had 2 goals and 2 assists in Saturday’s home loss to Calgary. It was his first multi-goal game since scoring 3 against Washington in Week 2 and his 25 points (9-16) is second on the team and second among all rookies.

4. Curtis Knight, Edmonton Rush: the right-handed forward out of Oshawa had 3 assists and was scoreless on 5 shots in Friday’s home win over Washington. Two of his assists came in the fourth quarter to help the Rush seal the win. In Saturday’s road win over Colorado, he rediscovered his scoring touch to contribute 2 goals and 2 assists. It’s his first multi-goal game since scoring 3 in the season opener and his 23 points (7-16) is tied for third among rookies.

5. Kiel Matisz, Minnesota Swarm: The right-handed forward out of Stoney Creek, Ont., had 2 goals and 4 assists in Saturday’s home loss to Calgary for a career-best 6 points. He’s scored 2 or more goals in 4 of his last 5 games and has 23 points (11-12) to rank third in team scoring.

6. Brock Sorensen, Minnesota Swarm: The left-handed transition man out of Peterborough scooped 1 loose ball and was scoreless on 2 shots in Saturday’s home loss to Calgary.

7. Kyle Buchanan, Washington Stealth: The right-handed forward out of Nepean, Ont., had 1 goal (on 1 shot) and also assisted on a goal in Friday’s road loss to Edmonton. His goal was his first since Week 3, snapping a 2-game streak without a goal.

8. Joe Resetarits, Calgary Roughnecks: The right-handed forward out of Hamburg, N.Y., was scoreless on 7 shots in Friday’s road loss to Toronto, but contributed 7 loose balls. He did not play in Saturday’s road win over the Minnesota Swarm.

9. Tyler Garrison, Washington Stealth: The defender out of Coquitlam, B.C., forced 3 turnovers in Friday’s road loss to Edmonton along with 1 assist and 2 loose balls. He has 13 forced turnovers this season, second on the team behind Kyle Sorensen’s league-leading 17.

10. Alex Crepinsek, Minnesota Swarm: The right-handed defenseman out of Oakville, Ont., forced 2 turnovers in Saturday’s home loss to Calgary. He has 6 forced turnovers this season, second on the team only to Tyler Hass.

Honorable mention: Toronto Rock D Kyle Belton had 1 assist and 7 loose balls in Friday’s home win over Calgary … Washington D Justin Pychel scooped 2 loose balls in Friday’s road loss to Edmonton … Calgary F Matthew Dinsdale scooped 5 loose balls in Friday’s road loss to Toronto and carded his the first NLL points of his career (2 assists) in Saturday’s road win over Minnesota … Colorado T Jaeden Gastaldo scooped 4 loose balls in Saturday’s home loss to 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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