Fans had been waiting for this day for months and the National Lacrosse League’s opening night did not disappoint. Saturday lived up to the hype and anticipation which had many switching back and forth between all three games on The Lacrosse Network’s YouTube feeds.
Lots of players stood out in week 1, including Philadelphia Wings CJ Constabile, Tracey Kelusky and Kyle Buchanan as well as Edmonton Rush goalie Aaron Bold to name a few, but there can only be three; here are the NLL Three Stars for Week 1.
3rd Star – Jeremy Thompson of the Edmonton Rush
It didn’t surprise too many when the Rush took it to the Colorado Mammoth on opening night at the Pepsi Center in Denver. At 13-10 the score was close but with the exception of two short lapses by Edmonton in the first and fourth quarters (both spans seeing four unanswered Mammoth goals), the Rush controlled the majority of the game. Jeremy Thompson was a vacuum cleaner on Saturday scooping up 11 loose balls, most of them from staying with the play after a broken face-off. Thompson took 24 of the game’s 27 face-offs, going 50% for night. Thompson hustle and hungry play gives him the third star this week.
2nd Star – Matt Vinc of the Rochester Knighthawks
It was a special night for the Rochester Knighthawks who raised their 2013 Champion’s Cup winning banner before Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Swarm. It was a great ceremony that included Ted Nolan, interim Head Coach of the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres, participating in the ceremonial face-off. Once the celebration ended it was a goaltenders dual for the next 60 minutes that saw the Knighthawks edge the Swarm 8-6. Matt Vinc won this goaltending dual hands down, stopping 45 of the 51 shots that the Swarm launched his way; at least 10 of those were game savers in the fourth quarter. Vinc’s stellar (but not surprising) play in Rochester’s opening night win was good enough to land him second star.
1st Star – Jordan Hall of the Philadephia Wings
The Wings surprised a few people on Saturday in their convincing 17-13 win over the Buffalo Bandits. They showed a ton of offensive fire power and although they have some new players going out the front gate, they played as though they’d been together for years. New Wings Tracey Kelusky and Kyle Buchannan looked good in the Wings uniform as did Ryan Ward who is returning to Philly’s lineup after stints in the Minnesota Swarm (2006-2009) and most recently the Edmonton Rush (2010-2013). Jordan Hall was the standout in this one though; he was scoring from everywhere, forcing the Bandits to keep an extra eye on him which in turn created open space out there for his teammates. Hall’s 5 goals and 2 assists earn him the number one spot for week 1.
Honorable mention goes out to Philadelphia Wings goalie Evan Kirk who stood on his head in their 17-13 win over the Bandits. Kirk saved 39 of 52 shots in his first game with Philly, proving to be yet another great off season acquisition for the Wings.
Scott Arnold is Lead Writer and Toronto Rock Beat Writer for In Lacrosse We Trust. He is also the Director of Broadcasting for The Lacrosse Radio Network and the play by play radio voice for the Peterborough Lakers, Canadian Lacrosse League and Major Series Lacrosse. His Three Stars can be found right here every week and you can also follow him on Twitter @ScottArnold12