Andy McNamara – Staff Writer
Scoring piles of goals is exciting, but goaltending wins championships. Let’s look at the power rankings for the last line of defense heading into Week 8 of the National Lacrosse League season.
4. Mike Poulin – Georgia Swarm
”The Poulin Wall” slips from first to fourth in the power rankings after getting pulled early in what turned out to be an eventual victory for the Swarm over New England. Consider this a bump in the road for the solid veteran. However, it’s worth noting that in Poulin’s last two outings the results were a loss (Week 6) and getting rescued by his teammates in that thrilling comeback win against the Black Wolves. He takes on the Rock in Toronto next on Friday in a battle for the best record in the NLL.
3. Dillon Ward – Colorado Mammoth
Ward could be considered more of a ”2A” than third here as he has shot up as one of the more dominant netminders over the last two weeks. After an inconsistent start to 2017 for Colorado, the 25-year old back-stopped his club to hand Georgia their first loss of the season, and followed that up by holding Vancouver to only nine goals in a ”W” this past Sunday.
Currently the Orangeville, ON native sits second in the league with a 11.13 GAA and sixth in save percentage. On a two-game winning streak, Ward will have his hands full on Saturday when the Mammoth square off against the red hot Rush in Saskatchewan.
2. Aaron Bold – Saskatchewan Rush
Now in his 12th NLL season, Bold is playing as well as ever after stumbling a bit to begin the year. He jumped from third to second in these rankings and has won four straight, during which he’s allowed an average of 10.75 goals per game.
Saskatchewan’s offense is exciting, but it’s their defense that gives them a real edge. The combination of the ”D” clearing traffic and Bold’s ability to inhale shots to limit rebounds reminds us of why the Rush are defending NLL champions.
1. Nick Rose – Toronto Rock
When it comes to goalies right now it’s Nick Rose and everyone else. If there’s a level beyond elite, Rose is there with an unreal 8.40 GAA and a .809 save percentage, both tops in the league. In fact, his goals against average are 2.73 better than second place. Toronto’s defense is improved over last season, but the 2008 third round pick has still been relied upon to make stellar saves when breakdowns do occur.
The Rock’s toughest test from an opposing offense comes Friday evening when the NLL’s highest scoring team, the Georgia Swarm, come to town.
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.