Last year, the suspense atop the National Lacrosse League scoring race for most of the season was simply whether John Grant, Jr. would be able to break John Tavares‘ single-season scoring record. He did it, of course, though not without a second-half push from Garrett Billings and his record-breaking assists total. In 2013, though, we’ve got real races and they’re a lot of fun to watch. Billings is pushing Shawn Evans for the points title with Rhys Duch lurking just a monster night away from being right in the thick of things. The overall lead is pretty tame to the game of hot-potato that is the goal-scoring race, though. The lead has been tossed around in the course of an evening and five players sit within four goals at the top. When you break it down by goals per game, Grant and Mark Matthews lead the way, but Duch, Dobbie and Curtis Dickson are all contenders. [Editor's update: Dobbie has only played 9 of Calgary's 11 games, so he actually leads in goals per game. We apologize for the error.] What’s all this got to do with this week’s IL Indoor NLL 3 Stars? You’ll see after the jump.
Dane Dobbie, Calgary Roughnecks
6 goals, 4 assists
Dobbie’s providing quantity and quality. Among his 10-point night are a pair of goals that found their way into IL Indoor’s Goal of the Week fan poll. Put him on one side of the floor and Evans on the other, with the potent supporting cast the Riggers have around them, and it’s no wonder Calgary’s scored 16 or more goals in 5 of their 11 games.
Callum Crawford, Minnesota Swarm
3 goals, 7 assists
Much like with Ryan Ward’s effort last week, you can break down the big assist total that Crawford put up and see that they weren’t gimmes coming from just passing the ball around and happening to be one of the last guys to touch it before a goal. Four of the seven were absolute beauties, immediately creating scoring chances that the acting captain’s teammates buried. Huge night in a game where, though they couldn’t come all the way back, the Swarm simply wouldn’t give up.
Tye Belanger, Colorado Mammoth
45 saves, .789 save percentage
He didn’t have the best numbers, but Belanger may have made the biggest statement between the pipes in Week 10. The 22-year-old stepped into the crease Friday night and gave up a goal on the first shot he faced. After that, he settled down and performed creditably, helping the Mammoth stay in the game and build some confidence in what had been a shaky, to say the least, goaltending situation. Then he made his first NLL start Saturday and turned aside 30 of the 36 shots he faced to down Buffalo. Granted the Bandits helped him out by not creating more chances, but Belanger led his team to a win that down the road they may look back on as being a turnaround for not only the season, but the franchise’s fortunes as a whole. Have the Mammoth found their goalie of the future? Dan Lewis will still have something to say about that, but it’s safe to say they have for at least as far as this Saturday’s rematch with Buffalo.
Rhys Duch (Washington): 5g, 3a. The Stealth are partying like it’s 2010/11, making it look like they could be up for a third title tilt against the Rock in four years. Duch is an even bigger cog in the machine now than he was then….Anthony Cosmo (Buffalo): 48 saves, .800 save percentage. Sure, the Bandits stunk it up against Colorado, but you can’t dump the blame on Coz, who faced a ton of rubber and did what he could to keep them in it…Colin Doyle and Garrett Billings (Toronto): 2g/6a, 1g/6a respectively. Every time the Rock need a big play on offence, one of these two is in the middle of providing it…John Grant, Jr. (Colorado): 4g, 6a. He’s not going to break his scoring record again this year. The fact that that’s a bit surprising is a huge testament to how remarkable Grant’s career renaissance has been…Ryan Benesch (Minnesota): 4g, 3a. Benesch has been good for a long time, but he seems to be getting even better at making those around him better. A big reason why Kiel Matisz and Shayne Jackson are proving so effective as rookies…Jeff Shattler Shawn Evans (Calgary): 4g/ 2a, 1g/7a respectively…Tyler Richards (Washington): 42 saves, .808 save percentage. Don’t forget to look way out to the west coast when you’re trying to pick your goalie of the year…Adam Jones (Colorado): 4g, 5a, 14LB.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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