Rookie Report: Impressive debut for second wave of National Lacrosse League rooks

Dillon Ward made 30 saves in a relief appearance in Colorado's win. (Photo: Jack Dempsey)
Dillon Ward made 30 saves in a relief appearance in Colorado's win. (Photo: Jack Dempsey)

We finally got to see the other half in action, even if there were just 2 National Lacrosse League games last weekend. But even with that limited schedule, there were a handful of first-year players who put on quite a show in their debut. Dillon Ward, of course, we’d seen before but we got to see him again as he made another impressive relief appearance in goal for the Colorado Mammoth. So where does Ward land in our second week of the Rookie Report? He had plenty of competition from Vancouver’s Tyler Digby and Cody Bremner, while Toronto’s Ethan O’Connor and Calgary’s Karsen Leung also put in strong showings. It won’t be until this weekend that we get to see most of the NLL rookies playing in the same weekend, but that doesn’t stop us from bringing you another edition of our weekly watch of the NLL’s top rookies.

1. Tyler Digby (Vancouver): It was an impressive NLL debut for the right-hander out of New Westminster. He had 3 goals and 3 assists in Saturday’s road loss to the Mammoth and also scooped a pair of loose balls. The big athlete who also was a draft pick for the CFL in 2013 still has a decision to make between football and lacrosse. If he has more games like he did on Saturday night, we all hope he keeps the stick in his hand.

2. Dillon Ward (Colorado): The Mammoth may have a goalie controversy but then again, maybe they don’t. The right-hander out of Orangeville came on in relief of starter Tye Belanger for the second straight week and finished with 30 saves on 38 shots to help the Mammoth to their first win of the season, at home against Vancouver on Saturday. The Mammoth hit the road for 3 straight, starting Friday at Calgary, so it’ll be interesting to see who gets the starting nod.

3. Riley Loewen (Edmonton): Did not play.

4. Logan Schuss (Minnesota): Did not play.

5. Cody Bremner (Vancouver): The Stealth’s first-round draft pick (No. 8 overall) scored just 1 goal but it was a hard-fought goal through a ton of traffic in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s road loss to Colorado. The goal tied the game, 11-11, and when you factor in the 8 LBs the lefty out of Victoria corralled, he showed just why the Stealth made him a first-round draft choice.

6. Ethan O’Connor (Toronto): The right-hander out of Milton, Ont., scored 1 empty-net goal on 2 shots, assisted on 2 others and scooped 5 loose balls in the Rock’s home-opening win over Calgary. He was one of many parts of the machine in Toronto that contributed to an energy that’s been missing from the Rock in recent seasons and on Friday looked to be a team on a mission in the early part of this new season.

7. Jason Noble (Minnesota): Did not play.

8. Karsen Leung (Calgary): He didn’t register any points in Friday’s road loss to Toronto, but his speed and smarts were on an impressive display. He covers ground quickly and gets to his spots, which helped him in scooping 6 loosies for the Riggers. There are still some NLL nuances for Leung to discover, but he’s off to a great start and looks to have a foundation set for a solid NLL career ahead of him.

9. Scott Jones (Minnesota): Did not play.

10. Cameron Mann (Colorado): The right-hander out of Hamilton, Ont., scooped a pair of LBs in Saturday’s home win over Vancouver, and that doesn’t stand out too brightly. But he was a big part of the energy the Mammoth re-discovered in time to not only win, but avoid a 0-2 start at home to the season.

Honorable mention: Calgary’s Tor Reinholdt scooped a pair of loosies in Friday’s road loss to Toronto and did some nice work on defense, but also drew some tough assignments in his debut … Toronto’s Craig England brought some speed to the floor and delivered some big hits while scooping 3 LBs in Toronto’s home win over Calgary … Calgary’s Garrett McIntosh scooped 2 LBs and forced 1 turnover in Friday’s road loss to Toronto … Philadelphia’s Garrett Thul, Brian Megill and John Ranagan did not play this weekend.

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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