The San Diego Seals’ inaugural season is off to an outstanding 10-game start, as the NLL’s top rookie forward Austin Staats & Co. will play host to another first-year NLL team in the Philadelphia Wings (2-9) within a game’s reach of the top spot in the Western Division.
San Diego’s 6-4 record matches that of the division-leading Saskatchewan Rush, but the Rush still lay claim to the lead with 12 more goals scored than the Seals on the season. Of course, all of that can change with a dominant win over the low-flying Wings on Saturday night.
The Seals go as Staats goes, as the 2018 Entry Draft’s No. 1 overall pick leads the team and all NLL rookies in goals scored (25) and points (45) on the year. His 112 shots on goal also pace the NLL’s 2018-19 rookie class, as no other first-year player has more than 69 shots on goal so far this season.
Staats recorded eight points in San Diego’s back-to-back wins over the last two weeks, including a six-point outing in the team’s 13-10 win over the Vancouver Warriors on March 2.
Philadelphia will feature several high-performing rookies of their own, but first-year players Steph Charbonneau and Trevor Baptiste haven’t come close to the offensive efforts of Staats, yet their contributions elsewhere have been noteworthy.
Charbonneau leads all rookies in caused turnovers (15), and teammate Baptiste leads the group in loose balls with 100. Baptiste was selected 14th overall in the second round of the 2018 Entry Draft, while Charbonneau came off the board in the fifth round of the 2017 Entry Draft but didn’t see the pitch until this season.
Philadelphia’s Achilles heel, however, has been the team’s play in net. Wings’ Davide DiRuscio and Doug Buchan have split time at goalie through the 11 games, but neither of the two have had much success. Buchan has allowed 106 goals from 434 on-target shots (0.756 SV%), while DiRuscio has allowed 37 goals from 150 shots (0.753 SV%) on the year.
San Diego has quite the opposite level of success in net so far this season, as veteran Frank Scigliano leads goalies that have seen at least 70 shots this season in save percentage at .797.
Faceoff between the Seals and Wings is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. PT at San Diego Pechanga Arena, Saturday, March 16. The game will be broadcast live on FOX 5 San Diego and B/R Live.