Week 8 of the NLL season saw a number of rookies make their NLL debuts, with Mike Burke in Colorado, Matt Bennett in Buffalo and Josh Johnson in New England all appearing in their first NLL games this season. While Burke has the most noticeable impact on paper, both Bennett and Johnson faired well in their NLL debuts, proving they deserve more playing time moving forward. With the NLL moving in the direction of youth and speed, it shouldn’t shock anyone that so many youngsters are getting their shots. With Miles Thompson and Ben McIntosh not in action this weekend, Black Wolves lefty Mark Cockerton stepped up and claimed the number one spot in this week’s rookie ranking, despite being a healthy scratch in his team’s first game of the weekend. Joel Matthews and Mike Burke make their rookie report debuts, and despite both having played two NLL games prior to this season, they are given rookie status by the NLL.
1. Mark Cockerton (O) – New England Black Wolves
After getting healthy scratched in his hometown against the Toronto Rock on Friday night, Mark Cockerton came out on Sunday against the Colorado Mammoth with a chip on his shoulder, and it showed. Cockerton put forth his best effort as a pro in the Black Wolves’ narrow 14-12 loss to the Mammoth, racking up a goal and three assists for four points. Cockerton would also scoop up four loose balls in the loss and now has totaled three goals and three assists for six points in his first three NLL games.
2. Joel Matthews (O) – Rochester Knighthawks
While Matthews did suit up for two games with the Bandits in 2014, he is being given rookie status by the NLL, and with that being said he makes his In Lacrosse We Trust Rookie Report debut. Matthews had another strong weekend with the defending champs, racking up a goal and two assists for three points in the Knighthawks 13-12 win over the Bandits. Mathews also scooped a career high six loose balls in the matchup against his former team, and now has totaled three goals and five assists for eight points in four appearances this season.
3. Mike Burke (O) – Colorado Mammoth
If Joel Matthews has rookie status, Mike Burke should also have rookie status in the NLL, as he also had just two games of NLL experience under his belt heading into Sunday’s matchup with the New England Black Wolves. After tearing up the Canadian Lacrosse League to the tune of 25 points in just six games the Mammoth came calling, and Burke did not disappoint in his Mammoth debut, racking up a goal and two assists for three points, along with one loose ball.
4. Robert Hope (D) – Colorado Mammoth
Hope didn’t reach the score sheet this week for the Mammoth, but he was an integral part of the team’s defense in their win over the New England Black Wolves. Hope would scoop four loose balls in the Mammoth’s fourth win of the season. Through seven games this season, Hope has picked up two assists, 35 loose balls and forced 13 turnovers, all while providing excellent team and one-on-one defense, as well as solid transitional skills.
5. Conrad Chapman (D) – Vancouver Stealth
Though Chapman’s Stealth allowed the Calgary Roughnecks to pick up their first win of the season, Chapman continues to excel at the defensive end of the floor for the Stealth. Champman’s size alone gives him an advantage at the defensive end of the floor, however he’s continuously improved his ball skills and transitional play throughout the season. This past week Chapman picked up a single assist, four loose balls and forced two turnovers.
6. Brandon Goodwin (T) – Buffalo Bandits
Goodwin’s Bandits took a narrow loss at the hands of the rival Rochester Knighthawks this past weekend, however Goodwin continues to contribute at both ends of the floor. This past weekend Goodwin picked up a single assist and four loose balls. Appearing in all nine games with the Bandits this season, Goodwin has picked up three goals and three assists for six points, along with 16 loose balls and two forced turnovers.
7. Sheldon Burns (D) – New England Black Wolves
After being a healthy scratch against the Rochester Knighthawks on February 15, Burns was back in the line up for both games this past weekend. While Burns didn’t find the back of the net in either of New England’s losses, he did record single assists in both games, and scooped up nine loose balls over the two game span. Burns isn’t flashy, but he’s effective.
8. Matthew Bennett (T) – Buffalo Bandits
Bennett made his NLL debut this past weekend in the Bandits loss to the Knighthawks, and while he didn’t reach the score sheet offensively, he did scoop four loose balls in the losing effort. More importantly, Bennett did not look nervous or out of place in his debut, and should have earned the respect and trust of his coach with his exceptional pro debut.
9. Josh Johnson (O) – New England Black Wolves
Another NLL rookie who made his NLL debut this past weekend. Josh Johnson finally got into the Black Wolves lineup after patiently waiting as Matt Crough, Quinn Powless, Will O’Brien, Sheldon Burns and Mark Cockerton all made their NLL debuts before Johnson this season. While it was a long wait, it was well worth it for Johnson, as he picked up an assist and five loose balls in his debut against the Toronto Rock.
10. William O’Brien (D) – New England Black Wolves
The fourth Black Wolves player to make the NLL rookie report this week, O’Brien continued to make an impact at the defensive end of the floor for New England. His physical play has really made offensive players take notice, as O’Brien is usually good for at least one huge hit a night. Through two games this weekend, O’Brien picked up one assist, three loose balls, two forced turnovers and two penalty minutes.