Both winners on Saturday night, one team will improve their preseason record to 2-0. Minnesota defeated Rochester 14-8, while Calgary downed Toronto 14-5.
Minnesota is coming off a disappointing 2014 season in which they missed the playoffs after upsetting Toronto in 2013 to make it to the semifinals. A lot of changes were made to the core roster in the offseason, with goaltender Tyler Carlson being shipped to Edmonton for 6’7” Brodie McDonald. They also sent steady defensemen Brock Sorensen to the Toronto Rock in exchange for Ethan O’Connor, a first round pick in the 2013 draft.
Miles Thompson, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, made an immediate impact on the team versus Rochester, scoring four goals in his first NLL game. 2014 rookies Jason Noble and Logan Schuss, now with a year under their belts, will look to step up and be counted among the game’s elite players. Minnesota’s core is still a young team, with players like Andrew Suitor, Kiel Matisz, and Jordan MacIntosh making an impact in every game.
Calgary finished third in 2014 and beat out division rival Edmonton Rush to challenge Rochestor for the Champion’s Cup, which Rochester won in the tie-breaker game. Coming so close to a championship and being disappointed surely did not sit well with the players, who will look to make it back to the dance in 2015.
The Roughnecks were led on Saturday by third year forward Marty Dinsdale who scored five goals. Dinsdale will look forward to an increased role this year with the retirement of Scott Ranger in the offseason.
Today’s matchup will be a good test for the Swarm to see how their new squad matches up against the NLL’s elite, and it will also be a chance for the Roughnecks to work on bringing back some of the magic that got them to the final last year. With less than a month until the season starts, and training camp only on weekends, it will take time for both squads to gel as a team, so look for every player to make the most of their opportunities today to make an impression.