NLL Season in Review: Vancouver Warriors

Vancouver Warriors’ captain Matt Beers goes airborne while Eric Penny watches from the net. March 22, 2019. (Photo: Jeff Vinnick)

Season in Review

The Vancouver Warriors had high hopes for the 2019 season with Canucks Sports and Entertainment taking over ownership, giving the team a new identity and new home in downtown Vancouver. But it turned out to be a disappointing season for Warriors’ fans, players and coaches as the team ended up with the second worst record in the National Lacrosse League with five wins and 13 losses. The team went 3-6 at home in their new digs at Rogers Centre and 2-7 on the road. It was a slight improvement from their 2018 2-16 record but they still failed to make the playoffs.

Part of the struggle came with an offense that scored the least number of goals in both the Eastern and Western divisions at just 179 for the season. Even the Philadelphia Wings, who ended with the worst record in the league, netted 218 goals. The Warriors also gave up more goals than anyone else in their division – 221. That number is four more than San Diego who also struggled with letting in goals this season.

With a .278 win percentage, the Warriors know they will have to come back with a stronger game plan for next season. The team certainly had its share of issues to worry about from player injuries to the cancer relapse of Aaron Bold’s wife. Bold honored his wife and her courageous fight by dedicating part of his helmet to her this season.

Because of this, Bold’s play was understandably limited. He played fewer games than Eric Penney. Although Bold’s record is listed at 2-6, his save percentage was .767 and he made 355 saves. He also recorded a season high 61 saves in one game in April. Penney was 3-7 and his save percentage was .773 with 371 saves. Both goalies can competitively hang with any other goalie in the league. Bold remains one of the most passionate players in the game.


Highlight of the Season

A number of player had impressive stats this season, beginning with Mitch Jones’s 35 goals and 48 assists. Coming in right behind him was Keegan Bal who ended his season with 32 goals and 48 assists. Bal signed back on with the Warriors in May. He’ll also be seeing more of Jordan McBride who signed a multi-year contract to remain with Vancouver. McBride ended the season with 31 goals. Tony Malcom also proved that he can score big goals when needed.

Defensively, Ian Hawksbee led the team with 153 ground balls. Right behind Hawksbee was Matt Beers who snagged 134 ground balls this season. Hawksbee also led the team with 24 caused turnovers. Matt Beers finished with 21 caused turnovers.


Biggest Disappointment

One of the things Vancouver will need to work on is having more of a total team effort on defense. Hopefully the entry draft will bring in some more defensive players who can contribute from the beginning and not have to adjust to the quick style of NLL play. They’ll also have to work on their faceoff game. With only 163 out of 472 wins, the team struggled with their transitions. Three of the four guys who played in all 18 games were on Vancouver’s defense.

Mitch Jones does his best to avoid Jacob Ruest while Logan Schuss watches. March 22, 2019. (Photo: Jeff Vinnick)


Team MVP

Mitch Jones played all 18 and positively impacted the team with 35 goals and 48 assists. It should come as no surprise that Jones led the team in goals. He finished 13thin league scoring. Jones was acquired from the Buffalo Bandits during the offseason for Corey Small, who had moved back to his hometown of Ontario. Jones is a Delta boy and plays with Warriors’ teammate Logan Schuss in the summer for the New Westminster Salmonbellies, so adding their chemistry to the lineup gave fans high hopes.


Expansion Draft Losses

The Warriors lost defender Brandon Goodwin to the Rochester Knighthawks and forward Jean-Luc Chetner to the New York Riptide. However, they reacquired Goodwin for their third round pick in this September’s entry draft. In his rookie season, Chetner scored five goals and 11 assists in 11 games.


Logan Schuss celebrates a goal with Jean-Luc Chetner. March 22, 2019. (Photo: Jeff Vinnick)

2020 Outlook

Vancouver has toiled near the bottom of the standings for too long and need to turn the ship around. They made strides this year, and the good news is that their glitches could be fixed with be minor adjustments and not a complete overhaul.

They’ve resigned players like Justin Salt, Chris O’Dougherty, and Jordan McBride. Qualifying offers have been tended to Jones and Schuss.

They also recently acquired 28-year-old Pitt Meadows native forward Mike Mallory for defender Travis Burton and a 2020 second-round pick.