A trio of matchups marks Week 2 of the 2018/19 National Lacrosse League season. The Warriors make their home debut in downtown Vancouver, while the world gets a first look at the expansion San Diego Seals. Let’s not overlook the always entertaining old school East Division rivalry whenever Toronto and Buffalo meet up.
All the action starts Friday night, let’s get to the game predictions!
NLL staff members Andy McNamara, Renee Washington, Devan Kaney, and Brian Shanahan deliver their game predictions every week.
Send us your picks @NLL on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using the specific game hashtags for each match-up below.
Toronto Rock (0-0) at Buffalo Bandits (1-0) – Friday, 7:30pm ET
Few rivalries match the intensity of Toronto/Buffalo NLL battles over the years. The way both clubs are built for 2018 should produce some epic classics.
The Bandits edged out a road victory in front of the always rowdy Philly fans to shake off some of that offseason rust. Sophomore Josh Byrne was a stud setup man with seven assists, while newcomer Corey Small seem to fit right in by burying five goals.
Each team is stacked with offensive firepower and great goaltending. Plus a healthy “Captain America” Tom Schreiber for the Rock to ignite their attack cannot be overlooked. I’ll still give a close decision to Buffalo.
Toronto has a strong returning core with Challen Rogers, Rob Hellyer, and
a healthy Tom Schreiber. However, the Bandits are looking like a top team this season with the addition of Matt Vinc and Corey Small to an already talented group of Dhane Smith (If he is able to play Friday), Steve Priolo, Shawn Evans, and Josh Byrne. They spoke last game on their excitement to get to play back in front of their fans. So With a win and first game under their belt, I think they will win this matchup, but it will be a fun one to watch!
OK – I know this is the home opener in Banditland, but I’m going to go with the Rock on this one. People have counted Toronto out due to all of their injuries last season, but let’s not forget this team had the top scoring offense in the East and they haven’t taken too many L’s in terms of lost talent in the off-season. The Bandits have a lot of talent as well, but based on last week’s performance, they have a lot of teambuilding to do in order to play like one cohesive unit. My money is on the now-healthy Tom Schreiber and the Rock.
Tweet at @NLL using #TORvsBUF
Calgary Roughnecks (0-1) at Vancouver Warriors (1-0) – Friday, 10pm ET
The second leg of a western home and home is setting up to be a can’t miss clash. The newly revamped Vancouver franchise started off the Warriors era with a 14-13 overtime victory in Calgary. Can the Roughnecks return the favor of ruining a home opener?
We know they are evenly matched, however, i’ll bet on the goaltending of the Roughnecks Christian Del Bianco over the inconsistent (yet at times brilliant) Aaron Bold. I don’t know if this encounter will also go to OT, but it should be within a couple of goals.
This is a tough pick after the excitement of last game’s overtime thriller. Behind Logan Schuss’ two goals and three assists to force OT, Vancouver came back and got the win at the Saddledome.
Calgary Head Coach Curt Malawsky said, “They were hooting and hollering in our rink, and making sure we heard it.” The Roughnecks still feel the sting of that loss, but I don’t think it’s enough to win Friday. Dane Dobbie had five goals, three assists in the first half and just one point in the second half. I picked against Vancouver, but I’m not doing that again. I think this underdog team boxes in Dobbie all game and pick up where they left off in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The Roughnecks are out for revenge and they’re going to get it! This is a team that won every aspect of last week’s game on paper. They have the talent (even though they are still down two key players), the coaching, and the drive to be a really great team. Last week’s loss to the Warrior’s came down to that one goal in OT. If Del Bianco can step it up and Dane Dobbie gets a bit more help on offense, Calgary will take this game.
Tweet at @NLL using #CGYvsVAN
San Diego Seals (0-0) at Colorado Mammoth (0-0) – Saturday, 9pm ET
This expansion San Diego franchise has built itself up the right way. A terrific mixture of established veterans with a stellar rookie class (including 1st overall pick Austin Staats) makes them instantly competitive. Unfortunately for Seals fans they’ll need to wait for that first victory as they visit Colorado and a Mammoth crew that is ready to give Saskatchewan a run for their money as kings of the West Division. I’ll roll with as complete a team as you’ll find in the NLL.
I am not sure what to expect from Head Coach Pat Merrill and his new team. Players like Austin Staats, Brodie Merrill, and Adrian Sorichetti will have a big impact on the Seals, but for game one it is tough to beat the Mammoth at the Loud House.
On paper, the Mammoth are looking like a top team in the West Division that will not only get back to the playoffs, but past the first round. I think Ryan Benesch, Stephen Keogh, Joey Cupido, Jeremy Noble, and the Mammoth start that journey to the finals on Saturday.
Hot take – the Mammoth will be the best team in the league this season. This team has a lot of the same guys returning on offense as well as Dan Coates coming back from an ACL injury on D. Oh, and let’s not forget they have arguably the best goaltender in the league in Dillon Ward. Now I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see San Diego play – I mean, have you SEEN the talent on that team?! Rookie-of-the-year shoe-in Austin Staats, veteran (and brother of the coach) Brodie Merrill, and Dan Dawson just to name a few…But I think Colorado has the experience and those guys have been looking for their chance to de-throne the Rush in the West, and this is their year. Mammoth are taking the “W” at home.
Tweet at @NLL using #SDvsCOL
Andy McNamara has been a play-by-play commentator for the NLL on TSN, NLLTV.com, and world lacrosse tournaments since 2011. He’s also a sport talk host and anchor on TSN 1050 sports radio. Follow Andy on twitter @AndyMc81.