Rookie Report: Calgary’s Leung, Edmonton’s Loewen steadily climbing with confidence

Robert Church, right, has scored at least 1 goal in 3 straight games for the Edmonton Rush. (Photo: Dale MacMillan)
Robert Church, right, has scored at least 1 goal in 3 straight games for the Edmonton Rush. (Photo: Dale MacMillan)

Much like last weekend, 3 National Lacrosse League games don’t give us a lot of rookies to watch, so it’s more about quality than quantity these days. And in some cases, quality certainly is applicable. Calgary’s Karsen Leung has been tearing it up for the Roughnecks, and Riley Loewen’s been a steady presence in Edmonton. And then there’s Eric Law in Toronto, where he isn’t exactly tearing it up. But we did notice that he’s the first U.S. player to suit for the Rock since Bill McGlone played 11 games for the Rock in 2009, and we thought that was pretty cool. There are more, of course, but that would sort of defeat the purpose of a Rookie Report, were we to sum all the rooks in a single sentence. Besides that, these fellas deserve more ink than that so that’s what we offer in our weekly report on the freshman, which follows just after the jump.

1. Tyler Digby (Vancouver): The right-hander out of New Westminster did not play last weekend.

2. Karsen Leung (Calgary): The right-hander out of Victoria continues to rise with strong play, growing more and more confident. It showed on the stat sheet with 2 goals and 2 assists along with 1 forced turnover in Saturday’s home win over Toronto. But even more importantly, it shows with the way he’s carrying himself during play. He’s running with confidence and getting to his spots with authority. The Riggers have been praising his “engine” and it was firing on all cylinders Saturday night.

3. Logan Schuss (Minnesota): The left-hander out of Ladner did not play last weekend.

4. Riley Loewen (Edmonton): The right-hander out of Burnaby scored 2 goals and assisted on 2 others in Friday’s home win over Toronto. His first goal was Edmonton’s first of the game and the second goal capped a 3-0 run early in the fourth quarter that helped the Rush turn a 7-6 deficit into a 9-7 lead that they would never relinquish. Loewen’s ability coming into the season was not an unknown, but it’s clear by the way he’s playing that his confidence continues to grow and that’s an invaluable asset in keeping the offense balanced.

5. Robert Church (Edmonton): The right-hander out of Coquitlam had 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 LBs and 1 forced turnover in Friday’s home win over Toronto. Much like Loewen, Church’s progress to the NLL pace is evident and it’s clear that he’s becoming more comfortable and confident in his play.

6. Dillon Ward (Colorado): The goalie out of Orangeville played a full 60 for the third time in 4 games and while he didn’t get shellacked in Saturday’s home loss to Rochester, a slow start put the Mammoth in a hole they couldn’t climb out of despite a spirited rally. Ward made 31 stops on 42 shots as Colorado lost its second straight.

7. Cody Bremner (Vancouver): The left-hander out of Victoria did not play last weekend.

8. Jason Noble (Minnesota): The left-hander out of Orangeville did not play last weekend.

9. Garrett Thul (Philadelphia): The undrafted left-hander out of West Point did not play last weekend.

10. Ethan O’Connor (Toronto): The right-hander out of Milton scooped 6 loose balls in Friday’s road loss to Edmonton, then had 1 goal and a team-high 14 LBs to go with 1 forced turnover in Saturday’s road loss to Calgary. O’Connor’s goal was big, coming just 8 seconds into the third quarter for a Rock team that was trailing 14-6 at the time. It helped spark a big second-half for the Rock, whose rally made a game of it but ultimately came up short after a rough first half.

Honorable mention: Toronto F Eric Law played his second game of the season in Saturday’s road loss to Calgary. He had 2 assists in the game after being activated because veteran D Pat Merrill battled sickness … Toronto D Dustin Dunn scooped 3 LBs and forced 1 turnover in Saturday’s road loss to Calgary … Toronto G Zak Boychuk saw 6:34 of relief action in Saturday’s road loss to Calgary after starting G Nick Rose was pulled for a spell after a tough start.

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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