Finally. The National Lacrosse League season, even though it started a week earlier than usual, just seemed to take forever to get here. I was glued to my computer watching the games Saturday night, as I’m sure many of you were. It was well worth the wait, too. Philadelphia was impressive with their season-opening win over the Bandits; Minnesota and Rochester waged a back-and-forth defensive battle with the defending champs pulling out the win; and the Edmonton Rush showed why they’re a chic pick to compete for this year’s title, holding off a determined Colorado Mammoth comeback to get their first W of the year. And now it’s time to celebrate the best of the players from the weekend, with this year’s first edition of the NLL 3 Stars. Make the jump to see who shone brightest.
Jordan Hall, Philadelphia Wings
5 goals, 2 assists
Hall tends to be a quiet contributor, but there was nothing quiet about his performance Saturday night. Hall scored 4 straight goals, the last one coming on a penalty shot, in the second quarter. He scored coming off the bench in transition and in the set offence, over screens and on naked looks. His blue kicks aren’t the only things that make him stand out in the Philly offensive zone; Hall looks like he’s ready to take on a leading role for the Wings and he showed on Saturday that he has the talent to do so.
Matt Vinc, Rochester Knighthawks
45 saves, .882 save percentage
Nothing new here. Vinc simply picked up where he left off in last year’s championship game, stoning the Swarm on numerous attempts. The Knighthawks D does a good job of forcing teams to shoot from where they want them to, and Vinc tends to like to face a good number of shots, but he still has to make the saves and they certainly weren’t all easy. Any night that Vinc is on his game—which is most nights—Rochester has a chance to win.
Curtis Knight, Edmonton Rush
3 goals, 3 assists
Knight was a good player last year as a rookie. This year, as coach Derek Keenan has pointed out, he’s stronger and more able to assert himself on the floor. The combination of his lacrosse IQ, wiliness on the floor, desire and a whole bunch of talent shone through in the Rush’s win over Colorado.
Kyle Buchanan (Philadelphia): 3g, 5a. Led all scorers on the first day of the season and showed no signs of succumbing to a sophomore slump. Buchanan scored the first goal of the 2014 NLL season and looked comfortable with his new mates all game…Dhane Smith (Buffalo): 3g, 1a. Great Dhane showed off his varied skill set coming out the back door, killing penalties and scoring on a trio of dandy shots…Adam Jones (Colorado): 4g, 2a. While John Grant, Jr. wound up with a hat trick, Jones was the main guy making the Mammoth offence flow this week…Alex Turner (Edmonton): 2g. After getting a reprieve from the practice squad after Dane Stevens was placed on the hold out list, Turner showed he wants to stay on the active roster by being a steady contributor to scoring chances and burying a couple. Almost made it a hat trick on a beauty of an Air Gait where his toe was on the crease line…Dan Dawson (Rochester): 2g, 4a. Typical sublime performance from the Dangerous one, keeping the ball moving, making smart decisions when to shoot, and leading the Knighthawks in scoring.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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