NLL Season Preview
Published: Thursday, Dec 7th 2017, 2:12pm
By Cody Stranger (@stranger_Cody)
For the 2018 National Lacrosse League season, a lot of teams will be without a key player, due to injury or retirement.
The Rush have lost key goaltender Aaron Bold, to the New England Black Wolves, in exchange for Evan Kirk. Kirk is as good, if not better than Bold, so it will be interesting to see how the season goes for him. The Rush will be without Nic Bilic until he is cleared to play, he is on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a broken leg, leaving a gap in the Rush defence. Luckily for the fans, and team, Coach Derek Keenan became aware of this issue and has placed other guys to take his position, such as Mike Messenge or Matt MacGrotty. On offence, the Rush’s roster remains pretty much unchanged. The 2017 NLL Runner-up for MVP, Mark Matthews leads the team with other “weapons” such as Ryan Keenan, Ben McIntosh, Robert Church, and new addition, Jeff Shattler.
The Knighthawks had a disappointing last season, finishing 7-11. The team remains pretty much the same. They will be looking for players such as Kyle Jackson to step up and take leadership roles coming into this season.
The Rock finished with a 9-9 record last season, which the organization wasn’t happy with. The players and fans wanted more. 2017 Rookie of the Year, Tom Schrieber looks to make another big impact this season, with help from the Transition Player of the year, Brodie Merrill.
New England Blackwolves:
The Blackwolves are hopeful of the 2017-18 season, and with their roster, it’s easy to see why. The Wolves have many returning players, such as Shawn Evans and Kevin Crowley. The Wolves will look a little different on defence, without goalie Evan Kirk and “The most hated player in the league”, the Enforcer, Bill O’Brien who was recently released. The Wolves will need more players to step up on defence and transition.
Despite the lack of attendance, and sweeping the Rush in the Champion’s Cup last season, the Swarm remain hopeful. Their roster is full of star players such as Lyle, Myles, and Hiana Thompson, Mike Poulin, Kiel Matisz, Randy Staats, and Jordan MacIntosh. The team is certainly exciting to watch and is hungry for another repeat, in hopes of drawing in bigger crowds.
In “BanditLand” the fans are excited for a fresh start, finishing with a 6-12 record, last in their division last season, the Bandits have returning stars such as Diane Smith and Steve Priolo, accompanied by goalie due David Diruscio and Alex Buque. The team is poised to do far better this season, and it’s easy to see why.
The Roughnecks finished 8-10 last season, finally beating the Rush in their final game. The team was rather disappointing, so say the least. The Roughnecks have star players such as Curtis Dickson, Mike Carnegie and Tyler Digby, who move the ball around well and are exciting to watch, however with them losing Jeff Shattler to the Rush, the team will be looking to fill a big hole.
The Stealth struggled both on and off the floor last season. They had terrible attendance, but still finished with a 9-9 record, losing to Colorado in the Playoffs. The team showed promise in the last few games, lead by players such as Corey Small and Rhys Duch. With the team looking good to finish off the year, they should be fun to watch this year.
The Mammoth finished with a 9-9 record last season and lost out to the Rush in the Western Finals. The team has a lot of talent, and is very fun to watch. One second, they’re out of the game, the next, they’re right back in it. The team never loses hope and is never really “out of the game”. The team will be ready to play this season, after last season’s loss to the Rush, where players like Mark Matthews and Adam Jones played huge parts in lifting the Rush over the Mammoth. The team will be ready to play, and are hoping to take the Rush out, in hopes of securing top-spot in the West.
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