Edmonton Rush forward Curtis Knight was Stephen Stamp's First Star for NLL Week 16 on IL Indoor. (Photo: Dale MacMillan)
Which trio of players shined the brightest this past weekend in the National Lacrosse League? Check out Stephen Stamp's Three Stars of Week 16 on IL Indoor below featuring several young stars who made a difference for their teams as the regular season winds down.
"It’s getting close to playoff time in the National Lacrosse League," Stamp writes. "That means a little extra pressure in some of the games where playoff spots are on the line. A couple of the IL Indoor NLL 3 Stars this week will be guys who stepped up when their team really needed them and helped to get their club either into or closer to the postseason.
"The importance of games is always magnified at this time of year, and the spotlight shines on the players who play the best at the most important times. Of course, there are players who always play well, and you’ll find some of them among the Honourable Mentions as well after an exciting Week 16 of the NLL season."
Curtis Knight, Edmonton Rush
6 goals, 5 assists
Knight falls under the category of guys who always seem to play well. Consistency is his forte. But he took things to another level Saturday when he scored 5 goals and added 3 assists in Edmonton’s win over Calgary. Admittedly, the game had no playoff implications because the Rush and the Roughnecks are already locked into the West Division’s first and second seeds, respectively. But Edmonton didn’t want to suddenly have a losing streak after starting the season 14-0, and they always want to beat Calgary. Knight was the main reason they were able to.
Dillon Ward, Colorado Mammoth
42 saves on 50 shots, .840 save percentage
Ward’s performance was one that was magnified by the playoff pressure, and shone even brighter because it allowed Colorado to become the first team to beat Edmonton this season. The Mammoth played a solid defensive game, but Ward needed to be there to bail them out several times. He was particularly sensational in the final five minutes, which Colorado spent shorthanded after a major penalty. The win to which Ward led them reduced the Mammoth’s magic number for clinching third in the West to one.
Rob Hellyer, Toronto Rock
3 goals, 5 assists
From never appearing in the 3 Stars to back to back appearances, Hellyer’s performance the past two weeks show how his game has matured this season. The talented righty stepped in to help fill the void left by Garrett Billings‘ departure for the rest of the year with by far the two best performances of what has been by far his best year in the league. It’s not just that Hellyer is putting up points. He’s playing a poised, dynamic game that is keeping opposing defences from being able to focus too much on the left side of Toronto’s O.
Note: The Three Stars of the Week on IL Indoor is not affiliated with the official NLL awards system, which consists of the Three Stars of the Game along with monthly and yearly player awards.