Training camps are done, pre-season games played, and the rosters have been finalized. We are now only 4 days until the opening of the 2013 NLL season. There are new faces in the league, old faces on new teams, and some faces that have been left off the rosters. This should be a very exciting 2013 Season.
Calgary Roughnecks…(2012– 12-4… Western Div Champion Regular Season) One of the most balanced teams in the NLL. Led by Shawn Evans, Jeff Shattler, Daryl Veltman, Scott Ranger, and Dan Dobbie, this Roughneck team was able to score 216 times for 2nd overall in the league, and only allow a league low 170 goals against. Goaltender Mike Poulin notched a 10-3 record. .Draft picks Matthew Dinsdale and Joe Resetarits add youth and speed to this already potent offense and make them a top contender for the Champions Cup.
Rochester Knighthawks.. 2012 Champions. Finished 7-9 in a tough Eastern Division. After a strong camp and a pre-season win over the Swarm, Led by Cody Jamieson, Stephen Keogh, Johnny Powless and Cory Vitarelli, add in a returning veteran Casey Powell and newly acquired Dan Dawson to the lineup and it makes this Knighthawk team very strong. Goaltender Matt Vinc had an up and down 2012, but I wouldn’t count on a second season of that.
Toronto Rock.. Winners of the Eastern Division at 9-7 and led by All-Time Assist leader Garrett Billings, Colin Doyle, Stephan LeBlanc, & Josh Sanderson look to lead the Rock offense once again, and Goaltender Nick Rose looks to build on his 2012 season with the Rock. Free agent Scott Evans and defender Kyle Belton and the Rock look to once again win the East and be the first team to win 7 titles in the N.L.L.
Colorado Mammoth….. Finished 11-5 last season, then suffered a 14-10 playoff loss at home to the Minnesota Swarm. Led by John Grant Jr’s record 116 points last season, Rookie of the Year Adam Jones, cagey veteran Gavin Prout, and Sean Pollock, this high powered offense can definitely fill the net and look to add more to that total by signing Colton Clark in the 2012 entry draft. In 2012 the Mammoth scored the most goals (217), but also let up 201 for 6th in the league. Chris Levis and Matt Roik will anchor the goaltending duties which seems to be in question after the pre-season beating by Calgary.
Buffalo Bandits… Finished 4th in the East with a 7-9 record. . Led by veterans Johnny Tavares, Mark Steenhuis, & Luke Wiles the Bandits look to make a push to be one of the elite teams again. In the 2012 draft the Bandits selected Dhane Smith 5th overall, and also obtained veteran Shawn Williams from Edmonton. They hope Smith & Williams can add to the Bandits offense.
Philadelphia Wings Finished 7-9 and in third in the east. After a strong camp for the rookies and the veterans, the Wings played back to back pre-season games. First game they fell to the Bandits 16-11. This was the first game the entire roster was together after the blockbuster deal that sent Dan & Paul Dawson to the Knighthawks, and had Paul Rabil, Jordan Hall, Joel White, and Rob Campbell to town. The second game had the Wings go against the Rock, unfortunately falling 12-9 in a much closer game as players are starting to gel.
Key acquisitions Kevin Ross, & Kevin Buchanan look to help make up the points they will miss from Dan Dawson. Drew Westervelt & Kevin Crowley (36 goals a piece) look to lead the offense. Rookies Will Harrington and Ethan Farrell look to help the offense, and defenseman Chad Wedmaier, C.J. Costabile and Mike Manley hope they can help a already young defense which is led by veteran Brett Manney. Goaltender Brandon Miller looks to rebound from a very sub-par year between the pipes while newly acquired goalie Kevin Croswell now give the Wings a solid 1-2 punch in the net
Minnesota Swarm… Finishing at 9-7 The Swarm selected Brock Sorenson (2), Kiel Matisz (3), Shayne Jackson (4), and Alex Crepinsek (10). All four of these picks are expected to be inserted into the lineup for the Swarm. Sorenson, Matisz and Jackson will be helping the offense already led by Crawford and Benesch. Goaltenders Tyler Carlson (5-2) and Evan Kirk (4-4) look to carry the team to the top of the west and another shot at going to the champions cup. They may not get there this year, but look out in the next few years…this team will only get stronger
Edmonton Rush.. Finished 6-10 and obviously the biggest surprise of 2012. The Rush went into the 2012 playoffs and defeated Calgary by a score of 19-11. The Rush then go to Minnesota and completely destroy the Swarm 15-3. In the Championship game at Rochester the Rush went into halftime leading 5-1 and in control of the game. A third quarter collapse put them behind to stay as they fell 9-6 in the championship. So you ask, What can they do? Enter #1 overall pick Mark Matthews. Matthews is already tabbed as the rookie of the year, and is the man slated to carry this Rush team back to the Championship once again. Question is, Can he do it? Add Ryan Ward, Tom Johnson, this team will make an impact. Goalies you have Aaron Bold who has proven he is a number 1 goalie in the NLL, now add Brodie MacDonald who has another year of WLA experience with the Langley Thunder leading them to there second straight WLA title and second Mann Cup appearance and you have a pair of goalies who can win. This is a young team that can make some waves.
Washington Stealth…. Finishing at 4-12 and out of the playoffs the Stealth look to right the ship. In 2010 they win the Champions Cup overToronto, and in 2011 they faced each other again, this time Toronto came out on top. Led by Rhys Duch, Lewis Ratcliff & Athan Iannucci, the Stealth look to once again not only make the playoffs, but to be a force in the west. Goaltender Tyler Richard looks to get back that championship form. The Stealth didn’t draft until round two when they drafted Tyler Garrison and Billy Hostrawser at numbers 11 & 12 overall
2. 2 Rochester
8. 8 Edmonton
All these questions and more to be answered in 4 days as the NLL season kicks off!