January 6, 2011

NLL West Division Preview

by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Geoff Snider has yet to play a game in a Roughnecks jersey, but he's already a fan favorite in Calgary.

This team-by-team breakdown (in order of last year's finish) of the National Lacrosse League's West Division appears in the January issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

The 2011 NLL season commences Saturday.

WASHINGTON STEALTH

Last year: NLL champions, 11-5, 1st in West
Who’s back:
F Lewis Ratcliff, F Rhys Duch, D Eric Martin, T Paul Rabil
Who’s new:
T Chris McElroy, D Jeff Moleski
Quick sticks:
Defending champs bring back the league’s highest scoring offense and a terrific goalie tandem in Matt Roik and Tyler Richards. Chris Hall is 19-8 as head coach since taking over during the 2009 season. 

CALGARY ROUGHNECKS

Last year: 10-6, 2nd in West
Who’s back: F Dane Dobbie, F Kaleb Toth, D Andrew McBride, F Jeff Shattler,
Who’s new: F Daryl Veltman, T Geoff Snider, F Cory Conway
Quick sticks: Youth movement is underway in Calgary, and Snider is a fan favorite heavyweight. The ‘Necks traded away the league’s top scorer, Josh Sanderson, and questions remain on offense. But Dobbie, Conway and Veltman will be familiar with each other -- they played together for the Coquitlam Adanacs this summer.

EDMONTON RUSH

Last year: West Division finalist, 10-6, 3rd in West
Who’s back: T Brodie Merrill, G Matt Disher, F Gavin Prout, F Ryan Ward
Who’s new: D Bruce Murray, D Bill Greer
Quick sticks: Rush return some standouts plus a solid group of 2010 rookies led by Brett Mydske, Corey Small and Scott Tinning. Newcomers Murray and Greer are playoff-experienced on defense.

MINNESOTA SWARM

Last year: 5-11, 4th in West
Who’s back: F Callum Crawford, F Aaron Wilson, F Ryan Benesch
Who’s new: D Andrew Suitor, D Rory Smith, F Matt Lyons
Quick sticks: Their final record in 2010 might not have been great, but the Swarm had three stud forwards who are back. Crawford, Wilson and Benesch all finished top-10 in the league in points.

COLORADO MAMMOTH

Last year: 4-12, 5th in West
Who’s back: F Alex Gajic, F Ilija Gajic, F Brian Langtry, D John Gallant
Who’s new: F John Grant, D Mac Allen, G Matt King, F Craig Conn
Quick sticks: Landing Grant in a trade from Rochester was a mammoth move. The 10-year veteran is the same age as Gary Gait was in 2003 when he arrived in Colorado. Can Grant lead them to a Champion’s Cup like Gait did? Also drafted Ned Crotty and Ken Clausen, but Clausen suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp.

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