NLL Notes: Grand Debut for Swarm, NLL in Atlanta
A come-from-behind win in front of a near-capacity crowd in their new 11,385-seat home has given the relocated Swarm a solid foundation to build on in Metro Atlanta.
Rallying to a thrilling 12-7 victory over the Toronto Rock after relinquishing the first two goals provided the level of entertainment the players had craved to deliver in their home opener.
"The fans were great," coach Ed Comeau said. "They were very loud and seemed to figure out the game very quickly. We knew going into the weekend we were going to have a big crowd and we knew this game was not only important to us in the standings but important to our entire organization. We were glad that the team was able to get us an important home win."
Highlights: Toronto at Georgia (NLL)
Jan 12, 2016
One of the heroes, Brodie MacDonald, was a goaltender who usually watches from the end of the players' bench. In four previous NLL seasons, the 26-year-old British Columbian was mainly a backup. After a 16-15 road loss to the Colorado Mammoth in Denver on Jan. 1, when Zach Higgins tended goal for the Swarm, Comeau opted to go with MacDonald against the Rock, and the move paid off handsomely.
"Brodie settled in after the first quarter and made some key saves at key times," Comeau said.
After Toronto went up 6-5 at 4:09 of the second quarter, MacDonald did not allow a goal until 13:41 of the fourth, when the outcome already was decided. The stretch of perfect play stretched 39 minutes, 32 seconds.
"That allowed our offense to find its groove and get some goals on the board," Comeau said.
The 6-foot-7, 245-pound MacDonald has patiently strived to become a No. 1 NLL goalie. Everybody in the sport has wondered if it will ever happen. If it does, this will go down as a big first step. At the very least, MacDonald has earned the start against New England at home Sunday.
MAMMOTH GET TO VINC
Colorado, without a goal and down by four after one quarter, stormed back to win 16-14 in Rochester last Saturday night in what had to be the most sensational road win in franchise history. Imagine: nine goals against all-world goaltender Matt Vinc in the second quarter. Unbelievable. The last time the Mammoth ventured into Blue Cross Arena, they were drubbed 14-5.
Adam Jones leads the NLL with seven goals and 15 points for the 2-0 Mammoth, who scored 16 goals in each of their first two games. On the opposite side of the floor from lefty Jones, Callum Crawford (5g, 9a) is supplying exactly what general manager Steve Govett wanted when he signed the lanky free agent.
"That's a great team that we beat, so we're really proud to pick up that win," Crawford said.
Colorado defenseman Robert Hope, who did not score a goal in his rookie 2015 season, got his first with 3:04 remaining in Rochester and it stood as the winning goal.
"It's exciting to get the first one, as long as I can help the team win," said the 6-foot-3 Canadian, who played NCAA field lacrosse at North Carolina's Pfeiffer University.
A rookie defenseman scoring two goals in his very first NLL game?
Graeme Hossack, selected No. 2 overall in the 2015 entry draft by Rochester, accomplished the feat Saturday in the loss to Colorado. Two shots on goal, two goals.
"He's a fantastic player and he's only going to get better," teammate Dan Dawson said.
Hossack, 23, from Port Perry, Ontario, via Missouri's Lindenwood University, wasn't bragging about his goals afterward, considering the Knighthawks lost their home opener.
"It was good to get it out of the way," he said. "I was a little nervous before the game but I wasn't going to let that affect me."
Hossack is a fast learner.
"I have to get used to the pace and make sure that I learn from my mistakes," he said. "Keep moving forward."
NLL: Shawn Evans Behind-the-Back Goal
Jan 10, 2016
EVANS AT HIS BEST
It didn't take 2015 league scoring champion and MVP Shawn Evans long to show New England Black Wolves fans what they can look forward to when the team's home opener rolls around Friday night. In his first game with his new team, Evans scored four goals and set up two to earn first-star honors in a 17-7 road romp past the Vancouver Stealth.
Lefty Pat Saunders will be the beneficiary of Evans' playmaking skills all season. He had a career-high nine points, including four goals.
Goalie Evan Kirk was outstanding — Vancouver outshot New England 56-55 edge — and Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark was happy with the play of his defense. Time and again, New England defenders knocked down attempted passes.
"That is one of the things we wanted to preach," Clark told Stealth NLL beat writer Gary Ahuja. "We want to get our sticks in shooting lanes. We want to disrupt, be active with our sticks."
WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN?
When Vancouver starter Eric Penney was pulled in the third quarter, 39-year-old Chris Levis was thrown into action for the first time since Jan. 25, 2013, when he played for Colorado. Levis allowed five goals on 22 shots in his 24 minutes 23 seconds in the creases.
GEOFF SNIDER RETIRES
Geoff Snider announced his retirement Tuesday.
Snider, 34, of Calgary, spent the last five years of his nine-year NLL career with his home-city Roughnecks. Originally drafted fourth overall by Philadelphia in 2006 out of the University of Denver, Snider holds the league record for faceoff wins with 2,468. He was the 2006 world field lacrosse championship MVP in helping Canada win its first title since 1978.
"Geoff has been the ultimate competitor throughout his entire career," Roughnecks general manager Mike Board said. "He always gave 100 percent on the floor as a Roughneck and on the field representing Team Canada. Off the floor, Geoff has been an ambassador in the community for the Roughnecks organization and has worked extremely hard to grow the game of lacrosse in Calgary and across Alberta. His dedication to the sport at all levels is both genuine and passionate."
Added Roughnecks coach Curt Malawsky: "I have always said they broke the mold regarding Geoff. They just don't make them like that anymore. He is the fiercest competitor I have ever coached."
Snider is president of the coaching organization ELEV8 Lacrosse Inc.
"This game is part of our city and although I won't get to suit up again, I am proud to continue to help young student-athletes share in my passion of the game," Snider said during a Roughnecks news conference.
Buffalo transition runner Mitch Wilde, who was told earlier in the day he would be a healthy scratch, scored a big goal in the Bandits' 10-9 home win Saturday night. The 24-year-old native of Whitby, Ontario, via Robert Morris University, was inserted into the lineup after the league informed the Bandits that forward Alex Kedoh Hill was suspended for two games as a result of a match penalty assessed during a preseason game.
Wilde's goal put Buffalo up 8-6 in the fourth quarter.
"That was big-time," coach Troy Cordingley said. "We needed that. He told me earlier, 'Coach, I'm ready to go if he's suspended.' And we needed him."
FIRST GOAL AS A BANDIT
Daryl Veltman, who signed with Buffalo as an unrestricted free agent after five years with Calgary, scored his first goal with his new team. Dhane Smith's shot missed the net, caromed off the back boards into Veltman's stick, and he fired it into the net.
Veltman was No.1 overall in the 2008 draft via the renowned Orangeville, Ontario, junior box lacrosse program and he played NCAA field lacrosse at Hobart. Veltman, 30, has taken the left-side attack role left by the retirement of John Tavares.
"He has a lot of poise," Bandits coach Troy Cordingley said. "You can see him calming guys down on the bench. He's telling guys to relax. He's so intelligent. He's a good player."
"He's a huge asset to our team," said Smith, who broke a 9-9 tie with 70 seconds remaining. "When Ryan [Benesch] is not open, he's always in that sweet spot."
Highlights: Calgary at Buffalo (NLL)
Jan 10, 2016
CALGARY BETTER THAN 0-2 RECORD SUGGESTS
Calgary has lost its first two games — 10-8 to Saskatchewan and 10-9 to Buffalo — but it could have won both. The Roughnecks have played hard.
"It might take us a bit of time to find our groove," captain Mike Carnegie said. "We replaced a lot of players from last year and we've used four or five rookies the first two games, so it's going to take some time. Our goalie, Frankie Scigliano, is playing well and, defensively, we've had some minor breakdowns that are causing goals but we can shore that up. [Buffalo] scored quite a few goals in transition, off broken play or off faceoffs and on power plays. Those things are hurting us."
The schedule did not help, with Calgary opening against the defending champs and then having to go into Buffalo, always a difficult assignment. Carnegie and his teammates hope to get into the win column at New England on Friday.
"We're staying positive," veteran forward Dane Dobbie said. "We're 0-2, but we've had two hard-fought games. Our goaltending and defense have been great. Our offense needs to start clicking. There's no doubt in my mind that we will. Everybody in the dressing room, we're behind each other and we're just looking forward to the year still to come."
DOBBIE SETS TEAM RECORD
Dobbie, 29, has been with the Roughnecks since they drafted him fourth overall in 2007. He scored his 274th career goal in Buffalo to tie Kaleb Toth's franchise record, then scored his 275th to break it.
Dobbie, a 5-foot-8 lefty from Elora, Ontario, has been known to absorb a beating to score a goal.
"It's one of those things I was taught to do when I was young," he said. "If you can't score from the outside, you've got to get to the inside to make plays. I'm willing to do it. Some games it pays off, other games I can't bury the ball."
Upon emerging from the visitors' dressing room, Dobbie paid tribute to Toth.
"Kaleb Toth is an unbelievable player," he said. "To get that [record] is pretty cool, but it's not something I'm thinking about right now. I'm all team right now. If I'd got a couple more we would have won the game. I've put in nine hard seasons, and hopefully I've got more to come."
FIRST GOALS AS ROUGHNECK
Tyler Digby, who was unable to score in Calgary's opener, fired in three goals in the second half against Buffalo. "I talked to him in the third quarter," Malawsky said. "He was getting a little frustrated."
Accquired in the trade that sent Evans to New England, Digby knows he is expected to produce goals. He scored 38 with Vancouver last season.
"We targeted him when we had to make the deal for Evy," Malawsky said. "We told him, 'We trust you. You're a great player. You don't have to do it all yourself.' He settled in and he scored some big goals."
"That's nice and, overall, we did a lot of good things," Digby said. "But we didn't come out with a win, so that's all that really mattered. Both our games could have gone either way. We need to come up with those little plays that can make the difference. We weren't able to get those in the first two games."
Added captain Mike Carnegie: "We need goals from all our forwards every night. To get Tyler going is great."
Digby, 24, is a 6-foot-3 forward from New Westminster, British Columbia, who played NCAA field lacrosse at Robert Morris.
COSMO GETS THE WIN
Calgary outshot Buffalo 50-43 and were frustrated time and again by saves by Bandits goalie Anthony Cosmo, who earned the white hard hat Bandits players award after each game they play.
"It was a big win for us, especially against a good team," Cosmo said. "Their offense moves the ball really well. Curt has great systems in place that they follow to a T. They did a great job against us. Any time you keep a team under 1,0 you should win. The D on both sides played incredible. There weren't many 5-on-5 goals. Most of them were power play or tranny goals. Compliments to the guys in front of me."
"Cozzy was sensational," Cordingley said. "He made some big saves for us."
SHAWN WILLIAMS RETURNS
A familiar face was seen at First Niagara Center.
Shawn Williams now is an assistant coach with the Buffalo Bandits. He scrutinized the action on high from the press box Saturday. When he played his last NLL game in 2014, Williams was sixth on the all-time points list with 1,152, including 444 goals in 257 games.
PLAYERS WELL PROTECTED
Bandits equipment manager Ted Cordingley on equipment improvements in recent years:
"A lot of the equipment is lighter and provides more protection in the right areas, plus it's easier to clean and disinfect.
"Lacrosse heads and shafts are also getting lighter and stronger. When I first started in the NLL nine years ago, it would be nothing to change 15 or more shafts and a few heads in a game due to breakage. With the new Under Armour heads and shafts we use in the NLL, you might only change one or two shafts in a game and the heads can last all season.
"The goalie equipment from Boddams we use is a lot lighter, offers more protection, and they're always coming out with new ideas and technology.
"I have to say the best change is in helmets, which have improved a lot to help prevent head injuries and concussions. The helmet has come a long way. They are lighter now with a lot of different types of shock absorbing materials and technology in them."
WEEK 3 GAMES
Rochester, Toronto and New England all play twice. All times Eastern.
Rochester (0-1) at Toronto (0-1) - Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Last Saturday, Rochester opened with a 16-14 home loss to Colorado, while Toronto lost 12-7 at Georgia. This will be the first meeting since the Rock defeated the Knighthawks to win the East final in Toronto last May, ending their string of three straight championships.
Calgary (0-2) at New England (1-0) - Friday, 7 p.m.
Calgary lost 10-8 at home Jan. 2 against Saskatchewan and lost 10-9 in Buffalo last Saturday. New England opened with a 17-7 win at Vancouver last Saturday.
Vancouver (0-1) at Saskatchewan (1-0) - Friday, 8:30 p.m.
Vancouver lost its opener 17-7 at home to New England last Saturday. Saskatchewan won its opener 10-8 in Calgary on Jan. 2 and had a bye last weekend. Saskatoon's mayor, Don Atchison, has declared Friday to be Saskatchewan Rush Day in the city.
Toronto at Rochester - Friday, 7:30 p.m.
This one comes two days after the teams will have squared off in the Rock home opener Thursday. Brothers Brad and Scott Self, both Rochester defensemen, are listed as physically unable to perform.
Buffalo (1-0) at Colorado (2-0) - Friday, 9 p.m.
Buffalo won its opener 10-9 at home over Calgary last Saturday. Colorado won its opener 16-15 at home over Georgia on Jan. 1 and won 16-14 in Rochester last Saturday. In the lone 2015 meeting, Colorado lost 14-11 in Buffalo on Feb. 28.
New England at Georgia (1-1) - Sunday, 2:05 p.m.
These teams met four times in 2015 and the Swarm, calling Minnesota home at the time, had the upper hand. They won three games by four or more goals. Their one loss was by one goal.
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