The National Lacrosse League has announced three finalists for the 2015 NLL Most Valuable Player Award. The Buffalo Bandits’ Ryan Benesch, Calgary Roughnecks’ Shawn Evans and Edmonton Rush’s Mark Matthews were voted as the top trio of players in the league this season.
Benesch won the NLL goal scoring title with 55 goals and finished third in the scoring race with 113 points including 58 assists which were ninth-most in the league. Benesch tied for the league lead with four game-winning goals and tied for second with four shorthanded goals while his .229 shooting percentage was ninth among all players with 10-plus goals. Benesch scored at least one goal in all 18 games played, including 11 hat tricks, and had five or more points in 15 games. The nine-year NLL veteran recovered 99 loose balls, which led all forwards, ranked 10th among non-faceoff men and 18th overall. The Kitchener, Ont. native, the first overall selection in the 2006 NLL Draft who won NLL Rookie of the Year in 2007, was named NLL Player of the Month for April.
Evans set the new NLL single-season scoring record with a league-high 130 points, tied the league record with 83 assists, and had 47 goals which were sixth-most overall. The 10-year veteran led the league in shorthanded goals (5) and power play assists (31) while his 96 loose balls ranked third among forwards, 12th among non-faceoff men and 21st overall. Evans scored at least two goals in 15 of 18 games played including nine hat tricks, had four or more points in every game, and four-plus assists in 13 games. The 29-year-old previously won the NLL MVP award in 2013. The Peterborough, Ont. native, who played collegiately at Bellarmine University, was the second overall pick in the 2005 NLL Draft.
Matthews recorded 115 points, which were second-most in the league in 2015 and third-most all-time, while his 53 goals were second-most in the NLL this season. The 25-year-old added 62 assists and 64 loose balls in 18 games played for the Rush, who later went on to win the Champion’s Cup with Matthews as the Finals series MVP after leading the postseason in scoring. Matthews scored two or more goals and four-plus points in every game including 10 hat tricks and seven or more points in nine games. The Oshawa, Ont. native, who played collegiately at the University of Denver, was the first overall pick of the 2012 NLL Draft. The third-year pro won the 2013 NLL Rookie of the Year award.
The 2015 NLL Season Awards are determined by a vote of the league’s Board of Governors, General Managers and Head Coaches at the end of the regular season. The winners will be announced at the NLL Season Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 29 in Toronto, Ont.
Schedule of finalist announcement for the remaining NLL Season Awards:
Monday, June 29: Teammate of the Year award finalists
Tuesday, June 30: Pinty’s Wingman of the Year award finalists
Monday, July 6: Media Person of the Year (The Tom Borrelli Award) winner
Tuesday, September 29: 2015 NLL Season Awards Ceremony