Rookie Report: Newcomers make their mark as NLL season hits full stride in Week 3

Edmonton's Riley Loewen is tied for the lead in the rookie scoring race with 8 points. (Photo: Dale MacMillan)
Edmonton's Riley Loewen is tied for the lead in the rookie scoring race with 8 points. (Photo: Dale MacMillan)

There’s plenty of shuffling and jockeying for position in the Week 3 edition of the National Lacrosse League’s Rookie Report. That’s to be expected so early in a season as the rooks find their pace, find their spots and work on chemistry in new systems with new teammates. That said, there also are some indicators that a few of these rookies are ahead of the curve. Vancouver’s Tyler Digby was strong again in his second game, and Dillon Ward has been a bright spot in an otherwise slow start for the Colorado Mammoth. So who falls where in this newest edition of the Rookie Report? Read on, and discover.

1. Tyler Digby (Vancouver): The right-hander out of New Westminster had a hat trick in his debut and answered that with 1 goal, 1 assist and 4 loose balls to help the Stealth defeat Minnesota in the debut of their new home in Langley, B.C. The big rook clearly is comfortable in the early stages of his NLL career and is tied with Edmonton’s Riley Loewen for the rookie scoring race with 8 points. The only knock on Digby’s game right now is ball control: He had 5 turnovers on Saturday and now had a team-high 8 in 2 games.

2. Dillon Ward (Colorado): The Mammoth are 1-3 this season and Dillon’s record is 1-1, but his stats certainly don’t reflect that. In 2 Colorado losses this weekend, he combined to make 46 saves on 59 shots, giving him a save percentage of .780 for the weekend and .789 this season. The right-hander out of Orangeville has a goals-against of 11.29 and both of those numbers are significantly better than counterpart Tye Belanger. We’re not here to debate the goalie situation in Colorado, just to point out that as a rookie keeper in the NLL, Ward’s doing his job quite well in spite of what’s going on in front of him.

3. Riley Loewen (Edmonton): After scoring 2 big goals in Edmonton’s Week 1 win, the right-hander out of Burnaby, B.C., responded with a 6-point effort in Saturday’s home win over Colorado. He was 2-4 with both goals and 2 assists coming in the second half to help the Rush pull away in their 17-6 win.

4. Cody Bremner (Vancouver): The left-hander out of Victoria put forth another solid contribution as the Stealth improved to 1-1. Bremner had 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 loose balls and forced 1 turnover in Saturday’s home win over Minnesota. He has 11 LBs in 2 games to put him among the team leaders.

5. Logan Schuss (Minnesota): The left-hander out of Ladner, B.C., had 2 assists in road loss to Vancouver on Saturday. And while 4 points (1-3) in 2 games doesn’t exactly signal a struggle, coming into a season as the No. 1 overall draft pick usually brings with it lofty expectations. His 1 goal has come on 25 shots, so the math there isn’t impressive. Add in that the Swarm are 0-2 and have scored just 11 goals in those losses and it tends to magnify the situation. Given his track record before his NLL career, it’s a safe bet Schuss will find his scoring groove. The Swarm just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

6. Karsen Leung (Calgary): He had his biggest game yet for the Roughnecks, scoring 1 goal, his first in the NLL that turned out to be the game-winner, assisting on 2 others, scooping 3 loosies and forcing 1 turnover. His speed and quickness are well-known, and the right-hander out of Victoria, B.C., was all over the floor in Friday’s home win over Colorado.

7. Robert Church (Edmonton): He missed Edmonton’s opener as he recovered from the flu, but the right-hander out of Coquitlam, B.C., made his debut on Saturday night with 4 assists (3 in the second half) in the Rush’s home win over Colorado. He was scoreless on 7 shots and scooped 1 loose ball.

8. Ethan O’Connor (Toronto): The right-hander out of Milton, Ont., was scoreless on 2 shots but did scoop 4 LBs and forced 1 turnover in Friday’s road loss to Buffalo. His energy continues to bring a big boost of speed to Toronto’s middle and he’s part of a young corps that will serve Toronto well for seasons to come.

9. Garrett McIntosh (Calgary): The big right-hander out of Coquitlam, B.C., has yet to score (he’s taken just 1 shot), but he did have 2 assists, 1 LB, and 2 forced turnovers in Friday’s home win over Colorado. His first assist helped tie the game, 2-2, in the first quarter and his second gave Calgary a 6-5 lead in the second quarter, a lead the Riggers would never relinquish.

10. Scott Jones (Minnesota): The right-hander out of Port Coquitlam, B.C., scored his first NLL goal in Saturday’s road loss to Vancouver. The points aren’t exactly dropping for him at the clip he’d like but then again, they’re not really falling for anyone in Minnesota. Like Schuss, though, he’s got the scoring pedigree that will come with time.

Honorable mention: Philadelphia’s John Ranagan scored his first NLL goal in Sunday’s home OT loss to Buffalo. It was part of the Wings’ late rally and closed the Buffalo lead to 10-8 in the fourth quarter. He also had 4 loose balls and forced 3 turnovers after scooping 3 LBs in Saturday’s road loss to Rochester … Philly’s Brian Megill had 4 LBs in Saturday’s road loss to Rochester, then had 3 loosies and forced 1 turnover in Sunday’s OT loss to Buffalo … Philadelphia’s Pat Saunders did not play on Saturday against Rochester, but had 1 goal and 1 assist in Sunday’s OT loss to Buffalo … Philadelphia’s Garrett Thul was a scratch in Sunday’s loss to Buffalo, but he had 1 goal and 1 assist for the Wings in Saturday’s road loss to Rochester … Toronto’s Dustin Dunn scooped a pair of loosies in Friday’s road loss to Buffalo … Toronto’s Craig England had 6 LBs in Friday’s road loss to Buffalo … Calgary’s Tor Reinholdt scooped 2 LBs in Friday’s home win over Colorado … Calgary’s Cody Hawkins made his NLL debut and assisted on 1 goal in Friday’s home win over Colorado … Minnesota’s Jason Noble did not play, serving a 1-game suspension for an incident in a preseason game … Colorado’s Cameron Mann was inactive for Friday’s road loss to Calgary, but scooped 3 LBs in Saturday’s road 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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