After a competitive opening weekend of play in the National Lacrosse League last week, that saw both seasoned and young teams take to the floor for the first time during the 2001-2002 season, the action in the second weekend will only continue to rise and intensify with five more teams all vying for an season opening win.
The first team to be awarded a franchise last season, the Calgary Roughnecks, will officially open up its season when they welcome fellow Canadian expansion team, the Montreal Express, to the Pengrowth Saddledome for a 1:30 pm (Mountain Time) matinee. Both the Roughnecks and Express will attempt to become the first expansion team this year to win their first ever indoor lacrosse game.
Later on in the same day goaltender Rob Blasdell and the Albany Attack will look to avenge a 9-8 preseason loss to the Rochester Knighthawks just three weeks ago, when they travel up to the Blue Cross Arena for a NLL Central Division match-up with the Knighthawks at 7:30 pm (Eastern Time). For the Attack, they will try to gain their second straight victory and keep a hold on first place, while Rochester hopes to begin their season and home opener on a good note.
In what is a repeat of the last year's opening game, the Washington Power will travel up north to the HSBC Arena and the Buffalo Bandits for an 8:00 pm (Eastern Time) showdown. After losing a heart breaking 9-8 contest in the 2001 NLL Semi-Final's against Toronto in their first year in the nation's capital, the Power begin a new season this weekend. For just the second time in their 11-year existence the Bandits failed to qualify for post-season contention last year, falling one game shy of qualification to the same Power club. Head Coach Ted Sawicki's squad will do all they can to get back into
the playoff hunt this season and with the Buffalo faithful watching on this weekend.
Below are this weekend's game capsules:
Sat. Nov 24 Montreal Express @ Calgary Roughnecks 3:30pm, Pengrowth Saddledome
TV: SportsNet, RDS Network
2000-2001 Record: Calgary (did not play); Montreal (3-11, 8th place)
Key Players for Calgary (2001 Team): Forward Jason Wulder (New York); Defense Bruce Alexander (Ottawa); Forward Kaleb Toth (Toronto); Goaltender Derek Collins (Ottawa/Buffalo)
Head Coach: Chris Hall (1st season)
Key Players for Montreal (2001 Team): Forward Tracey Kelusky (Columbus: NLL Rookie of the Year, 2nd in team scoring with 51 points); Forward Joe Hiltz (Washington: 4th in team scoring with 46 points); Defense Brad MacArthur (Rochester: 1st in team face-offs won with 148 wins); Goaltender Curtis Palidwor (Columbus: 1st in team saves with 266) Forward Ted Dowling (Albany: 4th in team scoring with 26 points)
Head Coach: Terry Sanderson (1st season)
Notable: This will be the first of two meetings between the two teams in less than six days when the Express hosts the Roughnecks at the Molson Centre this Thursday?Calgary went 1-1 in 2001 NLL preseason?Montreal played the most pre season games and registered a 1-4 record?The game will mark the debut of the Express on the RDS Network.
Tickets: At Pengrowth Saddledome Box Office, through Ticketmaster
Charge-by-Phone at (403) 777-0000 and online at www.Ticketmaster.ca
Sat. Nov 24 Albany Attack @ Rochester Knighthawks 7:30pm, Blue Cross Arena
Radio: Rochester-WYSL (1040 AM), Craig Rybczynski (play-by-play) and Bill Meagher (analyst)
Webcast: www.NationalLacrosse.com, www.WYSL1040.com
Record: Albany (1-0, 1st place Central Division); Rochester (2001:10-4, 3rd place)
Key Players for Albany: Forward Josh Sanderson (1st in NLL assists with 7); Forward Mike Regan (2nd in NLL goals with 5); Goaltender Rob Blasdell (3rd in NLL save percentage with a 16.00 average)
Head Coach: Bob McMahon (1st season)
Key Players for Rochester (2000-2001): Forward John Grant (Tied for 2nd in NLL scoring with 90 points); Forward Cory Bomberry (2nd in team scoring with 66 points); forward Duane Jacobs (Tied for 2nd in NLL power play goals with 16); Goaltender Pat O'Toole (2nd in NLL save percentage with a 10.58 average)
Head Coach: Paul Day (5th season)
Notable: Rochester ranked 2nd in power play percentage with 58.0?The Knighthawks ranked 3rd in league attendance with an average of 9,147?The Attack allowed the 3rd lowest goals last season with an average of 12.1.
Tickets: At Blue Cross Arena Box Office, through Ticketmaster Charge-by-Phone at (716) 232-1900 and online at www.Ticketmaster.com
Sat Nov 24 Washington Power @ Buffalo Bandits 8:00pm, HSBC Arena
TV: CNNSI, HDNet
Web Cast: www.NationalLacrosse.com
2000-2001 Season's Record: Washington (9-5, 4th place); Buffalo (8-6 5th place)
Key Players for Washington (2000-2001): Forward Gary Gait (Tied for 2nd in NLL scoring with 90 points); Forward Paul Gait (Tied for 3rd in team scoring with 52 points); Forward Jessie Hubbard (2nd in team scoring with 54 points); Goaltender Devin Dalep (1st in team saves with 385); Forward Rodney Tapp (4th in NLL face-offs with 125 wins)
Head Coach: Darris Kilgour (2nd season)
Key Players for Buffalo: Forward John Tavares (NLL MVP and 1st in NLL scoring with 115 points); Forward Chris Driscoll (Registered 35 points for Buffalo last season); Forward Pat Maddelena (1st in NLL short-handed goals with 5); Forward Mike Accursi (4th in team scoring with 70 points); Goaltender Steve Dietrich (12.73 goals against average for Rochester last season)
Head Coach: Ted Sawicki (3rd season)
Notable: Washington was tied for the best away record last season at 5-2?Both teams split the season series last season? Proven face-off veteran and newly signed Randy Fraser will make his debut in a Buffalo uniform
Tickets: At HSBC Arena Box Office, through Tickets Charge-by-Phone at 1-888-223-6000 and online at www.Tickets.com