The National Lacrosse League has announced their preseason schedule and there seems to be more exhibition contests than ever, including a rarity of seeing the Buffalo Bandits on the preseason schedule.
Four games open the preseason on Saturday, December 6, with games in Vancouver, Buffalo, Toronto, and Rochester. It will be the debut of the New England Black Wolves and also the first game the Bandits have hosted in years. To top it off, the Toronto Rock Athletic Facility opens for the pre season as the NLL’s home base, and the Swarm travel to Rochester for the annual free preseason game.
Saturday Dec 6, 5 pm Edmonton @ Vancouver: Edmonton and Vancouver debut new rosters and storylines. We get our first look at Vancouver’s defense without their captain, Kyle Sorensen, and the likely debuts of Rory Smith, Tyler Hass, Tyler Burton, and Johnny Powless. We also learn the Stealth goaltending hierarchy and see who follows Tyler Richards; Eric Penney or Matt Roik? Lastly, we will get our first look at Tyler Carlson in a Rush uniform and find out if he will be contested by Adam Shute as a backup, and Corey Small makes his return.
Saturday Dec 6, 6 pm New England @ Buffalo: Obviously, this will be the first time we see the Black Wolves play, but we will also learn about their team. Who makes it from their free agent camp? How do rookies Mark Cockerton and Ty Thompson look? Who is their backup goalie? Buffalo meanwhile has another goalie situation on their hands where Dave DiRuscio has a chance to win the backup role. We will also see the debuts of Nick Weiss and their rookies.
Saturday Dec 6, 6 pm Calgary @ Toronto: Calgary still doesn’t have Andrew McBride or Scott Ranger signed, so how will their roster look? Jeff Moleski will make his debut for them, along with Jordan McBride. This will also be our first chance to see the Toronto offense without Colin Doyle and Garrett Billings while Brodie Merrill, Brock Sorensen, Jeff Gilbert, Hayden Smith, and Brett Hickey get their first looks.
Saturday Dec 6, 8 pm Minnesota @ Rochester: Rochester will be playing their first game in their championship era without Johnny Powless. Who takes those touches? Does Derek Hopcroft become a permanent part of the offense? What is Kyle Perriera’s role after signing a three-year deal? For Minnesota, they lost Gilbert and Tyler Hass, so how does Mike Grimes lead their defense? Is Zach Higgins cut out to be a starting goaltender? How does Marcus Holman look in his first box game? Ethan O’Connor also with his Swarm debut.
The next day sees one game as the Calgary Roughnecks play their second game as well and Minnesota turns around in a pretty harsh preseason back-to-back with a day game after a night game in Toronto.
Sunday Dec 7, 12 pm Calgary vs Minnesota (in Toronto): There likely won’t be many cuts, but on a game right after night games the day before, we should see some third-string goalies, which means Peter Dubenski and for the Swarm, they don’t have a third string yet. Also likely to see a lot of rookie play and role players such as Nick Cotter, Sam Bradman, and Ian Crawford in Minnesota.
The second week of the preseason has a rematch with New England playing in Buffalo again while the Colorado Mammoth make their preseason debut in Toronto.
Saturday Dec 13, 4 pm New England @ Buffalo: Cuts will be made, so how do these teams look? Is New England looking at American players? Are guys like Adam Will still with Buffalo?
Saturday Dec 13, 7 pm Colorado vs Minnesota (in Toronto): This is Minnesota’s last game so they should have a clean roster. This is also Colorado’s debut, which means we might see Alexis Buque for the first time. Their rookies make their debuts, and it will be the first box game for Terry Ellis. Questions also emerge of if Casey Powell will be there.
Sunday has Colorado turning around for an even harsher back to back than Minnesota, playing at 11 am in Buffalo as the Bandits play their last of the preseason. Rochester and Toronto also play the now semi-annual Montreal game.
Sunday Dec 14, 11 am Colorado @ Buffalo: Colorado faces the same things that Minnesota and Calgary did in their back to back. Buffalo also has their last preseason contest.
Sunday Dec 14, 2 pm Rochester vs Toronto (in Montreal): Being in Montreal is an event for new Rock player Brodie Merrill. This is also Rochester’s last game.
The preseason ends with Toronto hosting the Black Wolves third and final contest while Edmonton and Calgary’s Alberta rivalry closes things out at the SaddleDome.
Saturday Dec 20, 6 pm New England @ Toronto: In New England’s last game, who is their backup goalie? Are players like Craig England, Jayson Crawford, Ryan Hotaling, Jesse Fehr, and Mike Burke still there? Who emerges to take over for Kyle Sweeney? In Toronto, has Hayden Smith emerged?
Saturday Dec 20, 7 pm Edmonton @ Calgary: Calgary has a pretty set roster but their role players will be interesting. Same for Edmonton and we find out if Carlson is there to stay.