With the first round of the playoffs in the books, and the best two out of three division finals upon us, I thought I would look at the four teams that were left. The East division yields no surprises with the #1 & #2 seeds (Buffalo vs. Toronto), but the West division has the #1 & #3 seeds (San Diego vs. Colorado).
A brief recap of the elimination round had Toronto beating Halifax 13-12 in overtime, Colorado upsetting Calgary 16-12, Buffalo beating Albany 10-5, and San Diego eliminating Philadelphia 9-8 in a classic defensive battle.
The remaining Teams:
This team has been a contender all season with scoring coming from everywhere. Ryan Lee, Connor Robinson, Eli McLaughlin, and Chris Wardle led a potent Colorado offense. Erik Turner, and speedster Joey Cupido in transition can cause fits for their opponents at any time.
The Mammoth defense is a good mix of youngsters and veteran players, with All-Star goalie Dillon Ward between the pipes.
Make no mistake about it, this team will give San Diego a tough series.
San Diego Seals:
This team was expected to contend this year. With the nucleus intact from the Covid shortened season, and superstar Dane Dobbie added to the mix, the pundits all thought the Seals would walk through the season, and challenge for the cup.
Dobbie was joined by Austin Staats, Wes Berg, Zack Greer, Casey Jackson, Tre Leclaire, Jeremy Noble, and a late season trade for Brett Hickey to bolster up the team. Brodie Merrill led a solid group in transition
No one could have guessed that this team would slide into a six game losing streak, even Jeopardizing their playoff aspirations.
Frank Scigliano had an up and down year in the Seals net, not always instilling confidence in his players, or fans. The last two weeks had the team playing much more efficiently, but still were having problems scoring.
This team took a little time to get rolling, but once they did, they were the hottest team in the league, going 11-2 down the stretch. Scoring came from everywhere with Tom Schreiber leading the way. Rob Hellyer, Dan Craig, Dan Dawson, Reid Reinholdt, and Zach Manns were also consistently on the score sheet. The Rock transition game was quite lethal as well with Challen Rogers, Brandon Slade, and Latrell Harris.
Solid defense was led by the duo of Brad Kri, and Mitch de Snoo, who together led the league in caused turnovers. Sheldon Burns, Bill Hostrawser, Josh Jubenville are also part of this stifling Rock defense. TD Ierlan has been excellent on the faceoffs, giving Toronto many more possessions this season.
Nick Rose is my vote for Goaltender of the Year. He has been sensational this year, keeping the Rock in games all year long.
The league leading Bandits are this year’s favorite to win it all. A great compliment of offense and defense has this team rolling. Josh Byrne, Chase Fraser, Dhane Smith, Tehoka Nanticoke, Chris Cloutier, and Connor Fields are an All-Star cast that can run the score up on any team. Captain Steve Priolo, as well as Kevin Brownell, and Ian MacKay are a formidable foe in transition.
The defense of Matt Spanger, Frank Brown, and Bryce Sweeting all have had good years, and are an integral part of the Bandits team. Add Max Adler as a very underrated faceoff man, and you have the complete package.
Matt Vinc is a seven time NLL goalie of the year, and knows what it takes to win. Matt has three championships to his name, and hopes this year will be his fourth.
When and Where is Game One:
Colorado Mammoth vs. San Diego Seals is Friday May 13th at 10pm (ET) at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego.
Toronto Rock vs Buffalo Bandits is Sunday May 15th at 6pm (ET) at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo.
Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.
An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.
Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.
In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.
Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).
Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.