Winners and Losers: ‘O’ in Rochester and Calgary, confidence in Colorado, Vancouver

The Rochester offense scored 17 goals in Saturday's win, more than its last 2 games combined. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)
The Rochester offense scored 17 goals in Saturday's win, more than its last 2 games combined. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)

Week 8 of the National Lacrosse League has come and gone but ILIndoor is not quite ready to let it go. Check it out as we look back at the week that was and get it off our chest in the form of Winners and Losers. There were a couple of offensive units that appear to have gotten back on track, while a couple of other units pretty much lost the momentum it appeared to have. There’s still plenty of lacrosse left to play in this 2014 season, however, which means there’s plenty of time to turn things around or have it turned around. But for now, we’re sticking with the week that was and next week, we’ll be back with more.

Winners

Stephen Stamp: @StampLax

Rochester Knighthawks offence.They needed a breakout game and they got it on the road against Toronto. The defence and goaltending have been consistently terrific; now you add the offence staring to click and Rochester looks like a pretty complete team and establish themselves as the favourite in the East, if they weren’t already. That’s not to overlook Buffalo, but we need to see more from the Bandits to believe they can keep doing it for the full season after their struggles the last few years. Rochester has tended to get better as the season goes on. If they get better from where they are now, look out.

Bob Chavez: @IL_Indoor

B.C. lacrosse. Seven of the first 11 most recent NLL draft picks are B.C. products and they’re doing the province proud. Guys like Karsen Leung, Riley Loewen, Robert Church and Logan Schuss and even Tyler Digby, who was a third-round pick, are making solid contributions to their teams and showing they were ready to step in and play NLL ball. That’s a credit to their work, of course, but it’s also a credit to the system in which they learned the game.

Ty Pilson: @SUNTyPilson

The Calgary Roughnecks offence. Much like Rochester, Calgary’s forwards desperately needed a breakout game as a group. Maybe not as bad as the Knighthawks, who were really struggling to score, but they still needed it. Curt Malawsky had taken his offence to task for holding the ball too long, not passing enough and players often trying to be one-man shows. The group responded with an incredible display on offence Saturday night, where they sliced and diced the Stealth defence and goaltending with surgical precision in a 20-9 drubbing. Four players scored hat-tricks for Calgary in a balanced attack which showed how lethal they can be when they move the ball.

Marty O’Neill

Rochester’s Knighthawks served notice that they will be a force throughout the 2014 schedule and that the rest of the East Division may get a few black eyes before we’re done. Rochester has has some problems over the years at the ACC in Toronto and the Rock looked sharp and ready coming into Saturday night. Instead, the defending champs laid a 2nd-half beating on the Rock that could send them reeling. The Rochester offense is scary good and still improving.

Casey Vock: @cvock

College Before the NLL: There’s two ways that some of the best young indoor players can go, given that a good portion of the best pro box prospects are also excellent field players. At Inside Lacrosse, we’ve tracked a lot of players as they weighed their options and decided whether to enter the draft or to try to get onto the roster at an NCAA team. It’s not easy for a lot of these guys, but I was in Syracuse last weekend to see a handful of guys who had to make that tough decision and ultimately chose the college route. And I’m glad they did. Albany’s Lyle, Miles and Ty Thompson and Syracuse’s Randy Staats are all players who could have ended up on NLL rosters at some point by now if they’d decided to not attend college. But they’re doing it, and it’s a treat to watch these guys bring their skills to the college field. Staats in particular, whose story we documented last year, was absolutely terrific and is all he’s been advertised to be, leading all scorers with five goals and two assists. It’s awesome to see a young player enter the NLL early and make a name for himself. But I think that the guys who first play in college might have a little something extra when they do make the jump to the NLL. Cody Jamieson — Staats’ cousin — is a good example of that. I think it helps develop character and maturity and Staats and all three Thompsons have a lot of great lacrosse in front of them, but it’s really exciting to see it played out right now in a college setting where it can have such a huge impact on the game overall.

Brian Shanahan: @sbdshanny

The Edmonton Rush are clicking on all cylinders and won their 7th straight game to start the NLL season, a feat that had not been accomplished since the 1996 Buffalo Bandits. In their next game (Friday February 28 at home against the Toronto Rock) Edmonton has a chance to tie the 1993 Buffalo Bandits record of 8 wins to start a season. Incidentally in 1993, the teams only played an 8-game season and one of the Bandits’ stars was none other than Rush Coach Derek Keenan.

Teddy Jenner: @OffTheCrosseBar

Anyone who gets to watch the Edmonton Rush. They are simply amazing to watch, front to back. No real weakness and they rely on no one player to carry them. 7-0 is no fluke for a team and organization that has truly paid their dues and are full value every time out.

Losers

Stephen Stamp: @StampLax

Colorado Mammoth confidence. Just when they were starting to look solid, the Mammoth get blown out by Vancouver and get another shaky goaltending performance. It could very well just be a blip on their way back to competitiveness, but a loss like that can rattle a team’s confidence, which is such an important element in being ready to go out and believe you can win every night. Given how quickly that game got away from them, the start to their next game will be critical.

Bob Chavez: @IL_Indoor

Three weeks off between games. The Buffalo Bandits are 6-2 and want to keep rolling. But their next game isn’t until March 8. The Vancouver Stealth are 3-7 and want to fix what ails them. But their next game isn’t until March 8. Bye weeks during the season are nothing new, but 3 weeks off? During the NHL break for the Olympics? NLL schedules can be a challenge to compile because of competing dates for arenas, but 3 full weeks between games seems a bit excessive and that’s a real shame because it seems now would be a great time to keep all the teams rolling in case there’s a hockey fan or two jonesing for some action.

Ty Pilson: @SUNTyPilson

The Colorado Mammoth. The club looked like they had turned a corner. They were steadily improving as the season went on until they hit a wall Friday night when they were demolished 19-9 in a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in front of their own fans at the Pepsi Center. It was a game where the Mammoth could have put some distance between themselves and the Stealth in the standings, but instead suffered one of the worst home defeats in franchise history.

Marty O’Neill

The Colorado Mammoth and the Vancouver Stealth. Both teams desperate for a spark and both teams getting one and losing it again in the very next game. Bruce Springsteen said it best: “One step up and two steps back.” These weren’t just losses, they were poundings that demoralize a team. Vancouver has a slight edge here from winning the tie breaker in goals from laying the beat down on Colorado before they got theirs the next night. The Stealth had Kyle Sorensen out of the lineup for Saturday’s game and that has to be another concern. The good news is one of these teams will make the playoffs in the West.

Casey Vock: @cvock

Lacrosse outside: With so much talk of weather having a negative impact on the early NCAA college schedule, I have to chuckle just realizing how different this is for the NLL. Plenty of teams are located in areas hard hit by winter, but it hasn’t seemed to have negatively impacted attendance, and definitely hasn’t hurt the viewing experience. Yes, obvious, I realize, but just a glimpse how different the worlds of lacrosse are at the moment. Bonus loser: professional field lacrosse. We saw last week the announcement that Major League Lacrosse has partnered with LXM Pro Tour, which could see MAYBE a dozen current LXM guys now able to join MLL. All we hear about it how it’s growing the game, and this could definitely help the pro outdoor league test some non-traditional markets. But I’d much rather see the MLL work out a better relationship — any relationship — with the NLL. There could be a number of benefits, the first being that some of the schedule/overlap conflicts might be sorted out.

Brian Shanahan: @sbdshanny

Toronto Rock. Up until this past weekend the Toronto Rock were winless, yet competitive, on the road and unbeaten and dominant at home. On Saturday against the Rochester Knighthawks, Toronto started well and was leading 7-5 with a few minutes left in the half. A couple of penalties led to two quick goals by Rochester and then the roof fell in. Before the half was over, Toronto allowed three goals in the last minute. Eventually Rochester scored 11 straight goals and at times Toronto’s defense looked like boys playing men. Toronto is hoping that the return of Chris White can bring some much needed help to the defense.

Teddy Jenner: @OffTheCrosseBar

The game of lacrosse. With all the talk of controversy and scandal in Sochi at the Olympic Games, it’s truly a shame that lacrosse hasn’t been a full Olympic sport for over 100 years. With acceptance into the Sport Accord, it’s everyone’s hope that lacrosse will finally make the jump. Imagine what a Canada-USA Olympic Gold medal final on prime time TV would do for the sport.

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