Albany did what now?
There’s a heck of a story brewing up in the capitol region. The Albany Firewolves, picked by many to be a bottom three team in the NLL this year, are now off to a 2-0 start, with the most recent win coming against the defending champions. Albany put up eight goals in the 2nd quarter, part of a 10 goal first half. As the game went on, Albany played like season vets. Buffalo would close within two, and Albany would find a timely goal to push to lead back up to three. The thing is, Albany ain’t a lot of seasoned vets. The young core of Alex Simmons, Tye Kurtz, and Ethan Walker has now announced to the league that Albany never got word they were supposed to be a bottom feeder. The trio combined for 20 points. Simmons in particular is really already a star, scoring five goals on the night, and it felt like he always got the one that Albany really needed, when they needed it. And the young talent goes on from there, Travis Longboat 7 points, Marshall Powless hat trick. When Albany trailed for exactly three minutes and six seconds in this game. A truly impressive outing. Next week they’ll travel to Philly to try and stay hot.
Mark Matthews remains handsy.
It was a close battle between Josh Byrne and Mark Matthews, but I’m giving goal of the week to Matthews. He’s been doing this so long, it’s hard to imagine there are too many tricks in his bag that will truly amaze you. And yet he still does it. The 33 year snag a feed out of the air with one hand, while a defender was draped on him, brought it down and scored a goal in a manner that really can just be described as “Matthews-esque”. He’s earned these plays being named after him at this point. Matthews joined Toronto this years the Rock try to get themselves over the hump and back to the Championship. Regardless of what uniform he has on, he will always be good for highlights.
Philly power play looks very good.
The Wings only managed seven goals against Toronto. I think some regression was to be expected, as the Rock defense is definitely a formidable foe than the Riptide defense. That said, the power play continues to be impressive. Now 4-6 through two games, there aren’t many teams in the league who can go across the top quite like Philly can. Mitch Jones and Blaze Riorden continue to be a dangerous duo, but on the powerplay ou add space for players like Joe Resitarits to carve you up. Fouling against the Wings looks like it’ll be a dangerous proposition this year.
I'll never be worried about Buffalo
Losing the opening to Albany, not concerned. Just going by the box score, things on offense went according to plan. Josh Byrne nine points, Dhane Smith five assists in a six point night, two and two for Tehoka, Cloutier four goals, and on down the roster. They’ll be doing that week in and week in, because that’s just who the Bandits are. More than anything it felt like an uncharacteristic night from Matt Vinc. Surrendering 17 is not the norm. He’s got a career GAA of about 10. Over the course of 300-plus games. At the end of the day this roster is still stacked, they’re still coached by John Tavares, and Matt Vinc is an all time great who probably won’t give up a goal total like that again any time soon.
Toronto transition and D to O is omnipresent
I, a novice, had a lot of questions about what Toronto would look like to start the year. No Schreiber, no Harris, how many teams can handle losing two players of that caliber and maintain their highest level of play? Well it seems like at least one can. What really stood out to me was how well Toronto found transition changes. They capitalized on plenty (de Snoo three assists, Jubenville a goal, Kri one and one), but just to watch casually it felt like every time I looked over, Toronto was pushing a transition opportunity for a shot on Higgins. The defense is sturdy and pushes, and with Nick Rose behind it all, Toronto makes for a fun group to watch run right now.
Lyle was cookin
The Bandits lost in Albany, and Colorado lost in Georgia, The two teams from the finals last year lost to two teams that missed the playoffs last year. NLL rules. Anyway, a big reason Colorado lost was Lyle Thompson. A seven point night on four goals and three assists, the pressure on Colorado was constant. It’s smart to try and pepper a netminder who’s not the typical starter, and Georgia did exactly that. The sent 51 shots at Tyler Carlson, Lyle alone took 10, more than anyone else in the game. Georgia has a ton of firepower, and that’s even after trading Ryan Lanchbury this week, Brett Dobson in net means they also have world class play in goal. Speaking of Lanchbury…
Rochester made a big move, and saw some early dividends
The Knighthawks sent two first round picks, one for 2024 and the other a conditional pick (either 2024 or 2025) to Georgia in exchange for Ryan Lanchbury. That’s a LOT of draft capital. You pull the trigger on a deal like that, you better be real sure the player you get back is going to be a difference maker. That’s not exactly a stretch with Lanchbury, just on potential. He was taken 2nd overall in the draft in 2021, and didn’t put up a ton of points last year with Georgia but spent most of the season banged up. Now healthy, and in Rochester, Lanchbury looked every bit the part of a number two overall pick. He had four points on two and two, providing serious balance to the offense. Rochester makes no secret about the fact that Connor Fields is the key; the straw that stirs the drink. A lot of attention gets paid to that left side as a result. Lanchbury should be able to cook on the right side of the offense, and a game in, already looked comfortable.
Overtime is just bonus fun
Who needs football sunday? NLL had the fireworks for you. Most of the teams in the NFL suck anyway, turn on some lacrosse. Vegas made the trip to Texas to take on Panther City. The Desert Dogs lost in week one after playing a penalty ridden game. A cleaner game is a must for them, as they aren’t as loaded with talent as some of the top tier teams. They executed this weekend, allowing only three power plays to Panther City. Rob Hellyer had five points and remains the most important player and leader on the Vegas offense. Jack Hannah had four points and his arrow remains pointed skyward. Really, there were two heroes in this one. First, rookie Sean Westley, who scored from range with less than a second left on the clock in regulation to send the game to OT. And then, the OT hero, Zack Greer, who is anything but a rookie. Greer got underneath his man running off the bench and tucked the game winner into the low far corner. Panther City will learn a lot in this one. They took the lead in the 2nd quarter, and weren’t trailing until the game ended in OT. That’s a tough way to lose, but early lessons for a young group can pay big dividends down the road.