After five exciting matchups in NLL Week 5, preview the Three Stars of NLL Week 5 by Stephen Stamp on IL Indoor below to check out which National Lacrosse League stars came through for their teams during the action-packed weekend.
Johnny Powless, Georgia Swarm
7 goals, 6 assists
The top three—actually, the top four—were so tightly bunched that if I were doing this again tomorrow they may well change. Ultimately, Powless wound up on top because he had two very good games in which he had a huge impact on Georgia’s success. He now has twice as many points in five games this year (13/13/26) as he did in six games after joining the Swarm from Vancouver last season (5/8/13). This is the Johnny Powless we’ve been waiting for since he was drafted in the first round as an 18-year-old. Does it mean he entered the league too early? Not at all; he was a valuable contributor to three straight Champion’s Cup titlists. It just means that at 22 he’s elevating his game. It also looks like he’s having the most fun he’s had on a lacrosse floor as a professional.
Logan Schuss, Vancouver Stealth
5 goals, 4 assists
He wasn’t even named the first star in his own game, but I thought Schuss was the best player on the floor Saturday night. You know things are clicking for you when you score the kind of ridiculous goal that Schuss put in—the shorthanded, one-handed underhand marker you’ve probably seen by now, which unfortunately those of us watching live on TSN missed at first because the college basketball game being shown went to overtime. If you haven’t the play, go check it out here. Schuss matched his production from the first three games of the season on Saturday and he did it because he finally got his shot dialled in. While he shot 15 times Saturday, scoring five times gives him an excellent .333 shooting percentage. I won’t even tell you what shooting percentage his 2 goals on 34 shots over his first three games was, but it wasn’t pretty. Schuss getting hot is a huge silver lining in Vancouver’s loss to Calgary.
Rob Hellyer (Toronto): 3g. 7a. It’s not often that a 10-point game won’t earn you a spot among the 3 Stars, but it was that kind of weekend. In fact, it’s been that kind of season early on, with offence winning out over defence. That was certainly the case in the 37-goal scoring barrage that was Friday’s game in Toronto…Dhane Smith (Buffalo): 4g, 4a. Despite all that scoring we’re seeing this year there is only one man who is ahead of the pace that Shawn Evans set last season in establishing the new single-season points record. That’s Smith, and he showed off the full range of his skill set Saturday: speed, quickness, vision, power and accuracy…Shawn Evans (New England): 2g, 7a. After being held to a single point in a Week 2 loss to Calgary, Evans has posted 8- and 9-point games…Mark Matthews (Saskatchewan): 4g, 2a. His 6-point outing doesn’t sparkle next to the numbers put up by some other players in Week 5, but Matthews’ performance came in a game where defence was still a major factor. The Rush were still looking to find their stride this season. Matthews led the way as they found it in a win that showed they’re still the class of the league, even if it’s by a slim margin over the Mammoth…Lyle Thompson (Georgia): 3g, 10a. After three games, Lyle had just 5 points. That’s not the production you expect from a first overall pick. But he wasn’t drafted for three games. He was selected to help Georgia compete for championships in the long haul. His 10-point outing Friday hinted at what he’s capable of as he adapts to the pro game…Dane Dobbie (Calgary): 3g, 5a. Dobbie had a strong offensive game, as we’ve grown accustomed to from him. He also remained disciplined in a confrontational game, which Curtis Dickson didn’t manage to do. That’s why Dobbie is here instead of his teammate…Stephan Leblanc (Toronto): 4g, 3a. Leblanc came out Friday night with an intensity that infected his teammates, spurring the Rock to the offensive breakout we’ve all been expecting…Evan Kirk (New England): 56/67, .836 save percentage. He leads the league in GAA by 1.75 and in save percentage by 58 points. Those are huge margins and make it clear that Kirk is by far the best goalie in the league to this point in the season…Rhys Duch (Vancouver): 3g, 5a. Duch is like the rain in Vancouver: you know it’s coming but you can’t do anything to stop it…John Grant, Jr. (Colorado): 2g, 3a. Saskatchewan held the Mammoth offence to 7 goals (defenders Jordan Gilles and Dan Coates had 3 of Colorado’s 10 markers). Grant was in on 5 of them…Kevin Crowley (New England): 6g, 1a. This feels late in the column to be getting to a phenomenal performance by Crowley. He shouldn’t take it as a slight. Crowley was excellent overall and sublime on the around-the-world goal he scored after swooping in to scoop a rebound one-handed…Craig Point (Rochester): 3g, 2a. On a night when Brodie MacDonald and the Swarm held Cody Jamieson and Dan Dawson to a single goal on a total of 27 shots, Point was the Knighthawks’ top gun…Brodie MacDonald (Georgia): 78/101, .772 save percentage. MacDonald wasn’t great Friday night—there really weren’t a lot of strong defensive performances in that 37-goal fire wagon of a game. But he bounced back when he returned to the game and made some big saves that the Swarm really needed. Then he was great on Saturday. That earned him a spot here…
Click here for the Third Star and full list of honorable mentions on Stephen Stamp’s Three Stars of Week 5 on IL Indoor.