2023-2024 Outlook: New York Riptide

2022-2023 Record: 5-13, 7th place in the East Division, missed the playoffs

New Faces: Kiel Matisz, Mitch Wilde, John Lafontaine, Colton Lidstone, Kevin Orleman, Petey LaSalla

Key Losses: Dan MacRae, Callum Crawford, Tyler Digby, Jake Fox, Dan Lomas, Scott Dominey, Steven Orleman

For fans in Long Island, the 2022-2023 Riptide season seemed to generate more questions than answers. The team stumbled out of the gates, dropping six of their first eight games. Some losses were of the heartbreaking (read: one-goal) variety. Others were disastrous blowouts that showcased a talented but inconsistent level of play. The only wins in that stretch were against an Albany team going through its own major rebuild. The second half of their season fared only marginally better, as the Riptide regrouped following a front office change, several major trades and a significant personnel change on the back end.

Riptide Executive Vice President and General Manager Rich Lisk, who assumed the GM role mid-season, has been hard at work retooling the roster, particularly on the defensive side. The hope is that these changes provide an element of stabilization seemingly missing from previous iterations of the team. Let’s take a look at how the New York Riptide shape up for the 2023-2024 season.

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Offense

Jeff Teat had yet another stellar season in 2022-2023, scoring 136 points, one shy of the NLL single-season record. Returning on the left side with him are veteran Reilly O’Connor, widely considered the leading candidate to be the next captain of the Riptide, and Larson Sundown, who is coming off a summer in which he helped the Six Nations Chiefs to their seventh Mann Cup championship. Dan Lomas signed with Rochester in the offseason, leaving an open spot on the left side. 2022 second round pick Tyler Davis and offseason signing Corson Kealey will likely be competing for that spot.

The right side will have a much different look, following the trades of both Fox and Crawford to Panther City, and Digby signing with Panther City in the offseason. Connor Kearnan, who registered a career high 75 points last year, now anchors this side of the floor. Veterans Brett Hickey and Mike Burke will compete for spots, along with Matt Anderson (acquired from Philadelphia) and 2021 draftee Jack Kelly. Colton Lidstone, one of several return players in the Crawford trade, will also be a player to watch. Lidstone has tallied 87 points in 32 games over the last two summers with the WLA’s Nanaimo Timbermen. The Riptide also have the rights to Austin Madronic, the #6 overall pick in 2022. However, it is not yet known if he will be in training camp this year.

Defense

The defense will also have a much different look this year. Veteran and inaugural team captain Dan MacRae retired this offseason. Goaltender Steven Orleman, who set a rookie record in saves last season, was traded to Buffalo after a comparatively subpar sophomore season. Cam Dunkerley, who started in net for the final few games of last season, returns as the interim starter. Steven’s older brother Kevin (another player involved in the Crawford trade) will also be competing for the starting role, along with Will Johnston, who spent most of last season on the practice squad.

One of the major weaknesses of the Riptide defense last year was the lack of overall experience within the unit. Lisk remedied that by acquiring transition players Kiel Matisz (trade with Philadelphia), Mitch Wilde (free agent signing from Calgary), and John LaFontaine (free agent signing from Albany). All three players have at least 9 years of service in the league. More importantly, all three also have experience winning an NLL Championship. This trio, along with veterans Damon Edwards, Chad Cummings, and Kevin Brownell, will play a vital role in passing on their knowledge of what it takes to reach the pinnacle to the younger core of defensive players.

That younger core consists of a mix of athletic guys who can stretch the floor (Ron John, Jordi Jones-Smith, Curtis Conley) and physically imposing players (Brent Noseworthy, Matt Marinier, Andrew Borgatti, Max Wayne). Add in some highly touted rookies (Zack Deaken, Callum Jones, Robert Morgan) with the veteran presence mentioned above, and the Riptide are poised to be one of the most improved defensive units in the league this upcoming season.

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“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.

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