NLL: Riptide’s personnel changes don’t pan out in loss to Rochester

New York Riptide vs Rochester Knighthawks
Regular season NLL
NEW YORK1/15/2023

The New York Riptide look a little different this week. After their third consecutive loss, the team made some cosmetic changes they hope will provide some deeper results. However, the changes will have to play out over the long run, as they fell to 0-4 after a Sunday afternoon 11-8 loss to Rochester.

First, they fired general manager Jim Veltman and named executive vice president Rich Lisk as the interim GM.

The team released the following statement: “We would like to thank Jim for his contributions to the organization and we wish him the best in all of his future endeavors.”

That was a pretty basic sendoff for a legend of the game who did everything he could for the team short of taking the floor himself.

The Riptide have Jeff Teat and Callum Crawford. They have depth on offense, and veterans on defence. But now in their third season, they still aren’t winning, despite their cushy start to the season – four consecutive home games before they hit the road and plenty of bye weeks for rest. So what’s the problem?

One – there is too much pressure on Steven Orleman. He’s been given a lot to handle at his age and experience level. A lot of young goalies have had the benefit of developing behind a veteran – think Origlieri behind Scigliano, Buchan/Shananan behind Vinc, Hutchcraft/Holowchuk behind Rose. And even Kevin Orleman, who played behind Mike Poulin for awhile in Georgia. Steven Orleman was thrown into the fire immediately, and he has done an incredible job adapting. But, he currently lacks that total shutdown mode that veteran goaltenders can seemingly switch on. He’s also missing captain Dan MacRae in front of him, who is out with an injury.

Orleman is their guy. He’s going to develop in their system until he becomes one of the league’s elite. And right now, there just aren’t that any seasoned goalies available who could come in and help out. Teams have to wait for their young guns to get the experience they need, and patience is required.

But the Riptide have run out of patience in their losing record, and it was Veltman who paid the price, despite bringing in the talent that should be getting the job done.

Which brings us to the other reason why the Riptide aren’t winning: because the teams that have beaten them are just as good as they are. At this point it’s honestly a toss up of who could win on any given night in the NLL, and the luck just hasn’t come for New York. It’s the same in Vancouver, who also parted ways with both their GM Dan Richardson and AGM Ken Thomas last week. They have the roster to win, but even scoring 19 goals this past weekend, they still let Las Vegas score 16 on them.

New York lost by a single goal to the NLL’s hottest team (San Diego). Nothing to be ashamed of there. But then there were two less evenly matched losses to Halifax and Toronto – but Halifax and Toronto are both expected to dominate this season, so can you really be surprised they did just that? Rochester has yet to lose a game and sits at the top of the league at 5-0.

At this point, the pieces are there. Is firing Veltman really going to get them that first win?

The team also made a trade, sending forward Jake Fox to Panther City for defender Chad Cummings. I didn’t see this trade coming at all. Panther City traded away their captain, which is odd. Fox had been a member of the Riptide since day one.

However, this works out in Fox’s favour – Panther City made noise in their first season and seem to be doing the same in season two. In the MSL, Fox was traded from perennial champion Peterborough to rebuilding Brooklin, so it’ll be nice for him to be back on a team likely to go pretty deep in the playoffs. He was held pointless in his first PCLC game, but the team did get the 12-10 win over Philadelphia.

Cummings is a great leader and has a few years under his belt in the league. He joins a defence that already boasts Damon Edwards, Jay Thorimbert and Kevin Brownell. They’ll be even stronger when Dan MacRae returns.

Something has got to give in New York. The Riptide are a hard working bunch. They’re going to have to start making their own luck.

We’ll see if any of their recent changes take effect on the floor when they play their first road game this Saturday, January 21 against the Albany FireWolves.