It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, of course I’m talking about the beginning of the National Lacrosse League season, and another season of the Money Ballers. In this weekly feature, we analyze the previous weekend’s games to decide which players are the most "clutch" offensively. "Clutch" can be defined in many ways and not all definitions involve goals being scored or even stats being measured. But in this case we look at game-tying, go-ahead, and game-winning goals. Each such goal and the assists on those goals are assigned a point value, and we will keep track of these Money Baller (MB) points over the course of the season.
Here’s how we assign MB points to each goal and assist:
|FIRST THREE QUARTERS||FOURTH QUARTER||OT|
As you can see, the later in the game the goal occurs, the more points it’s worth.
In the six previous seasons of the Money Ballers, we’ve had six different winners. It’s interesting that three of the six regular season winners have come from the Washington (now Vancouver) Stealth, and only one has come from the East division. Here are the previous winners:
|2013||Curtis Dickson||Rhys Duch
|2012||John Grant||Cody Jamieson|
The 2014 season began with the oldest rivalry in the league: the Bandits (with a new coach and new offensive leader) hosting the Wings (with a new… everything). The Wings bombarded Anthony Cosmo and Kurtis Wagar with 68 shots and with that many, you’re going to score a bunch even if the goalies stop 75% of them, which they did. Evan Kirk stopped 75% of his shots as well, but he only faced 52 and so the Wings prevailed 17-13. The scoring came in bunches — the Wings scored three or more straight goals three different times, including Jordan Hall scoring four straight in just over 5 minutes, while the Bandits scored three in less than two minutes in the second. Newcomer Kyle Buchanan and Hall led the Wings with 8 and 7 points respectively, but it was Kevin Ross who led the Money Ballers with 5.5 MB points. The Bandits only had two game-tying goals in the game so the goal scorers, Glen Bryan and Ryan Benesch, picked up a point each.
The second game was a rematch of last year’s Eastern final between Minnesota and Rochester, and the two games were surprisingly similar. Each team scored 4 fewer goals and so the end result was the same, a Knighthawks victory. But just like last year’s game, the Knighthawks kept the Swarm scoreless in the first, three goals were scored in the third, the Swarm took a lead about five minutes into the fourth, and then the Knighthawks came up big later in the fourth to take back the lead and seal the win. The Money Ballers in this game, however, were quite different. Joel McCready, who didn’t play in last year’s Eastern final, had 2 goals, 3 assists, and 6 MB points to lead the game while Tyler Hass improved on his zero-point performance from last year, picking up a pair of goals which netted him 4.5 MB points.
The first Western game of the season featured the Colorado Mammoth hosting the Edmonton Rush. The Mammoth got off to a quick start, scoring their first goal of the season just 36 seconds into the game, and nine minutes later led 4-1. But the Rush scored six in the second quarter and opened the third with three more, the third of which was the game-winner coming from Alex Turner. John Grant scored three and assisted on another after Turner’s goal to make a game of it, but the Mammoth just couldn’t get that one extra to tie it. Turner led the game with 3 MB points, while Adam Jones picked up 2 for the Mammoth. Rookie Riley Loewen was impressive in his debut, picking up 2.5 MB points on a pair of goals less than a minute apart in the third. The first tied the game and the second put the Rush ahead, so we may be seeing Loewen’s name among the rookie Money Ballers quite a bit this season.
The early Money Baller leader is Rochester’s Joel McCready, who accumulated more MB points (6) in Saturday’s game than he did all of last year (5). But McCready may not want to get too comfortable in the captain’s chair, since not only are the Knighthawks off next weekend, but this early in the season we can see a lot of change in the leaderboard from one week to the next. Then again, there are only two games next weekend. The Rock, Roughnecks, and Stealth make their season debuts, and only the Mammoth play again. So a low-scoring weekend (or one where neither of the games are close) could certainly leave McCready at the top of the list. You’ll have to check back here next Monday to find out.
Here are the Money Baller standings after week one. The number in brackets after a player’s name is their ranking in the scoring race.
|As of Week 1||First||Fourth||OT|
|1||Joel McCready (T8)||ROC||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||6.0|
|2||Kevin Ross (T8)||PHI||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||5.5|
|3||Tyler Hass (T26)||MIN||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||4.5|
|Dan Dawson (T3)||ROC||0||0||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||4.5|
|5||Alex Turner (T26)||EDM||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3.0|
|6||Riley Loewen (T26)||EDM||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.5|
|Ryan Ward (T3)||PHI||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||2.5|
|8||Adam Jones (T3)||COL||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.0|
|Kyle Buchanan (1)||PHI||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.0|
|Jarrett Davis (T8)||EDM||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.0|
|Cody Jamieson (T26)||ROC||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||2.0|
|Kevin Crowley (T15)||PHI||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||2.0|
|Weekly leader||Overall leader|
|Week 1||Joel McCready||Joel McCready|
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