The 2013 National Lacrosse League regular season got into gear this past weekend as seven team played their openers. (Photo: Bill Wippert)
The 2013 National Lacrosse League regular season got into gear this past weekend as seven teams played their openers over the five-game Week #2 schedule. Three teams emerged undefeated while five clubs are still looking for their first win this season.
After Saturday night's win in Calgary, the Toronto Rock (2-0) completed their weekend road sweep in Alberta with a 10-9 win over the Edmonton Rush (0-1) on Sunday afternoon in their home opener at Rexall Place.
“It’s absolutely huge,” said Rock head coach Troy Cordingley. “To come out of this road trip with a pair of wins over two incredibly talented teams says a lot about the character of our group. We’ll enjoy this one for a couple hours, then get right back to business."
Rush rookies Curtis Knight (3+2) and Mark Matthews (3+2), the first overall pick in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft, both recorded a team-high five points in the loss.
“They played well, I thought Curtis was probably our best player on the floor," Rush GM and head coach and Derek Keenan told the Edmonton Journal here. "Mark got his chances, didn’t shoot the ball particularly well at times, but that’ll come for him. Those two guys were obviously our best guys on offense. Give up 10 (goals), you’ve got to win. That’s the bottom line in this league, defensively."
The Toronto Rock (2-0) defeated the Calgary Roughnecks (0-1) on the road to by a score of 13-11 to spoil their 2013 NLL home opener on Saturday night before a crowd of 11,653 at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Calgary Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky didn't pull any punches about his team's offensive play in his NLL coaching debut.
“I haven't seen that many balls on the turf from a professional lacrosse team in a long time,” Malawsky told the Calgary Herald here. “Overall, I was happy with our back end and the way our goaltender played. (Mike) Poulin made some amazing saves. If it wasn’t for Mike, it would have been a complete blowout.”
The Rock wasted no time out of the gate as Stephen Hoar won the opening faceoff and scored just seven seconds into the game. After a furious comeback attempt by the Roughnecks, Kasey Beirnes scored two late goals off passes from Rock captain Colin Doyle to secure the win.
"Kasey and Colin with the back-to-back goals, what can you say, those were hard battles and these guys know what it takes,” Rock head coach Troy Cordingley told The Canadian Press here. “We had to fight for everything, every inch tonight, and we earned that win."
The Washington Stealth (2-0) stayed unbeaten with a 17-13 win on the road against the Colorado Mammoth (0-1) in their home opener on Saturday night at Pepsi Center.
"It makes everyone's life a whole lot easier when (the opponent) doesn't know who to check," Stealth forward Lewis Ratcliff told the Everett Herald here. "If we keep this up we are going to be a tough offense to stop."
After a disappointing 4-12 record during the 2012 NLL season following consecutive title game appearances, the Stealth have already matched half of their win total from last year.
“We talked about building off of last week,” Stealth head coach Chris Hall told the Everett Herald here. "Tonight, with five rookies in the lineup, we know that those guys can step up in the league. It's still early but we are back in a sense that we know that we are certainly a contender in here."
What a night for the fans in “Banditland” on Saturday night as the Buffalo Bandits (1-1) erased a three-goal fourth quarter deficit in their home opener to defeat the Minnesota Swarm (0-1) by a score of 13-12 before a crowd of 15,238 at First Niagara Center.
"We thought we should have won that game," Swarm forward Ryan Benesch told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Overall, I think it's pretty positive. We have a lot of rookies and they stepped up tonight."
But it was Buffalo's 2012 first-round draft pick (5th overall) Dhane Smith who scored the game-winning goal to complete his hat trick with 4:11 to play on a bounce-shot. It was a great game for Smith, as nerves may have played a factor during his NLL debut against Philadelphia the night before.
“[Smith] was pretty nervous,” Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour told the Buffalo News here. "We had a good talk after that. He’s the future of the team. He’s going to be a tremendous player.”
Kilgour pulled starting goaltender Anthony Cosmo for the second straight game as Kurtis Wagar again replaced the former All-Pro netminder.
“Obviously I’m a backup guy who knows his role,” Wagar said. “Cosmo’s our guy. I was pretty surprised by the move, but I’m not going to say no.”
On Friday night, the Philadelphia Wings (1-0) defeated the visiting Buffalo Bandits (1-1) with a 13-8 win in their home opener at Wells Fargo Center.
Wings newcomers Ethan Farrell, Jordan Hall and Paul Rabil all had strong performances in their debuts, while former Bandits forward Kevin Buchanan got revenge against his former team with six points (3+3).
"It felt good," Buchanan told the Philadelphia Inquirer here. "I was glad I was on the Wings' side tonight. There are a lot of friends you have on a team, and you went through blood, sweat, and tears together, but you have to put that aside and fight for the jersey you are playing for."
The rookie Farrell was another pleasant surprise after scoring twice on acrobatic dives, including the game's opening goal.
"It felt great to contribute," Farrell said. "The energy from the crowd was awesome tonight. To be able to come out and score the first goal was an amazing feeling."
Eight teams will play in Week #3 as four games, three on Saturday night and one on Sunday evening, are on the schedule for this weekend.
Check back on NLL.com later this week for previews featuring insight from players and coaches for each and every game.