As the 2016 NLL season continues to roll along, preview which first-year National Lacrosse League pros are making an early impact on the turf by previewing the NLL Rookie Report for Week 3 by Mike Mackley on IL Indoor. Follow the progress of the league’s talented crop of young stars all season long on Inside Lacrosse.
“Week 3 of the National Lacrosse League season wasn’t as kind to the freshmen plying their trade across the league as there were no real standout performances, unlike the first two weeks of the season,” Mackley writes. “With that being said, there still were some impressive outings from the likes of Wesley Berg, Graeme Hossack and Chad Tutton. Week 3 was a week of debuts, however, as Bryce Sweeting (Colorado), Jordan Durston (Vancouver), Derek Searle (Rochester), Mitch de Snoo (Buffalo) and Dan Lintner (Toronto) all got their first taste of NLL action. While all had impressive debuts for one reason or another, it’s hard not to pinpoint Searle’s debut as he was forced to drop the gloves against Toronto Rock tough guy Billy Hostrawser in a spirited go of things at the conclusion of the Knighthawks dominating win over the Rock.”
1) Wesley Berg (RF) – Calgary Roughnecks
1-2-3 – 5 LB – 3 TO – 4 PIM – 1 CTO – 10 SOG
Berg had yet another standout performance for the Roughnecks in their 9-8 victory over Buffalo. The native of Coquitlam, BC continues to play like a seasoned veteran, demanding his touches and making things happen in possession. While many rookies come into the league, take time to adjust and play with some tentativeness to their game, Berg has done anything but that. With a tremendous amount of confidence to his game, the twenty-three year old has found consistent offensive production this season. Sitting with nine points in three games, Berg finds himself behind only proven high end offensive threats Jeff Shattler, Dane Dobbie and Curtis Dickson in Roughnecks scoring.
2) Graeme Hossack (D) – Rochester Knighthawks
2 GP – 0-1-1 – 12 LB – 0 TO – 0 PIM – 3 CTO – 0 SOG
It’s not often that a rookie can slide on to a legitimate championship contender’s roster and make a huge impact. It’s even less likely for a defensive rookie to slide into a team’s lineup and do so. However, that has been the case with Hossack. Now we all knew the second overall pick in this year’s NLL draft was good and pro ready, but Hossack has arguably already become the Knighthawks top defender. I don’t throw that sentiment around lightly, but if you watch the Knighthawks play you quickly realize Hossack is not only an elite shut down defender, but excellent in transition, highly intelligent, and a vacuum on loose balls. Excelling in all facets of the game, in a short time Hossack has certainly proved his worth as the second overall pick.
5) Jordan Durston (LF) – Vancouver Stealth
2-0-2 – 1 LB – 0 TO – 12 PIM – 0 CTO – 3 SOG
Durston had a fairly interesting NLL debut on Friday night in Saskatchewan. The 22-year-old lasted just thirty minutes before exiting the game. Durston drew an Unsportsmanlike Conduct and Game Misconduct as the second quarter came to a close on Friday and it was disappointing because the former Six Nations Arrows star was thriving. With two goals in the first quarter, Durston showed his immense offensive ability, finishing when the opportunity presented itself. While he’ll likely continue to play in a depth role for the Stealth moving forward it was intriguing to note that Durston could be effective in that role as it’s something not all Jr scoring sensations can adapt to.
7) Dan Lintner (RF) – Toronto Rock
2 GP – 0-3-3 – 7 LB – 4 TO – 0 PIM – 1 CTO – 9 SOG
Lintner made his NLL debut on Thursday night as the Toronto Rock took on the Rochester Knighthawks. While it wasn’t a statistically dominant debut, it was a fairly impressive one. Lintner did pick up an assist in the Rock loss on Thursday. More impressive was the diminutive offensive threat’s ability to get inside on a physical Knighthawks defensc. Lintner looked extremely confident in both games this weekend, showing a willingness to drive the net to create offence. Lintner’s effort level was excellent as he was arguably the Rock’s most consistent offensive threat over the two-game weekend despite limited offensive success. Lintner’s quick feet and high end skill make him tough to contain and it will only be a matter of time until the Courtice, Ontario native finds the back of the net for his first career NLL marker.
8) Randy Staats (RF) – Georgia Swarm
0-2-2 – 5 LB – 0 TO – 4 PIM – 0 CTO – 2 SOG
After back to back seven-point performances, Staats’ point production was bound to drop off at some point. On Sunday afternoon we saw that, as Staats put up just two assists in Georgia’s 11-6 home loss to New England. It wasn’t that Staats was bad, or did anything different than he had been doing in his first two games. It was more a matter of the New England defence successfully keying in on him. When you add in the fact that Jesse King was absent from the Swarm lineup, you quickly realize why it was so easy to key into the right side of the Swarm’s offence on Sunday afternoon. Still Staats tried to create, showed his elite vision and playmaking skills and was just as impressive as he had been in the first two weeks, minus the point production.