A new chapter in the NLL begins as the two new teams to the league square off in their opening game. The Halifax Thunderbirds will open their gates for the first time when they host the New York Riptide.
While the players, coaches, and ownership are similar to last season in Rochester, the Halifax Thunderbirds are a completely new team in a new city looking to make a big impact in the NLL and the sport of lacrosse.
Familiar faces will lead the offense this season, with veteran and captain Cody Jamieson returning after a Team Offensive MVP campaign. Alongside him are prolific goal scorers in Kyle Jackson, who posted 30 goals last season, and Chris Boushy, making an immediate impact after being traded from Calgary in March last season. Also added to the offense are Clarke Petterson and Clay Scanlon, two rookies with different styles of play looking to bring a spark to the team. The Thunderbirds should have no issues putting the ball in the net with this dynamic mix of experience and young talent.
On the other side of the field, Graeme Hossack commands the defense. After being named team Defensive MVP in 2018-19 and the NLL Defensive Player of the Year in 2017-18, Hossack will look to lead the team again alongside other big bodied defenders in Brandon Robinson and rookie Nonkon Thompson. Warren Hill returns between the pipes, after posting an NLL leading .810 save percentage a season ago. With Jake Withers taking faceoff draws, this defense is ready to start the season making a statement.
After a long off-season and a lot of changes, the Thunderbirds are ready to finally open the gates on Saturday night.
“I am excited to finally get out there and play,” says defenseman Luc Magnan. “We have a great group of guys and are ready to go. It’s exciting and pretty cool to bring lacrosse to the great city of Halifax.”
The opening game will be the first action for the Thunderbirds in their new home against another team. Training camp over the past month concluded with the Purple vs. Orange scrimmage in front of a sellout crowd at the Scotiabank Arena. With former assistant coach and five-time champion Mike Accrusi now at the helm, the Thunderbirds are ready to debut professional lacrosse in Nova Scotia.
The 2019-20 NLL season demonstrates the growth of professional lacrosse across the world. There are not one, but two new teams joining league this season, the Halifax Thunderbirds and the New York Riptide, and what better way to welcome them to the NLL then by having them play their franchise opening games against each other.
“The home opener is exciting enough, but playing against a new team definitely helps the growth of the game. The game of lacrosse is for everyone. It’s the fastest game on two feet, and the NLL is a great product. I’m excited to see more teams join the league and providing more opportunities for players around the world to play the game at the highest level,” says Magnan.
The Thunderbirds will face the Riptide on Saturday, December 7th at 7:00pm AST/6:00pm EST. The game can be seen on B/RLive. B/RLive is free for the first two weeks of the season.