This week I will continue with my mid-term report cards, looking at the West Division.
San Diego Seals (6-1) – Grade: A+
This is one of the most complete teams in the NLL this year. Wes Berg, Tre Leclaire, Casey Jackson, Austin Staats, Dane Dobbie, and Jeremy Noble headline a potent offense that has already scored 87 goals in only 7 games. Broadie Merrill leads a veteran group of defensemen that have been quite stingy. Frank Scigliano has played very well on net, twice only giving up four goals in a game. Look for more of the same in the second half from this team. As long as the team stays healthy, they are the team to beat in the west.
Colorado Mammoth (6-2) – Grade: A
Good teams find ways to win, and the Mammoth have been very creative this year. Scoring coming from everywhere, a transition game that can erupt at any time, stingy defense, and an All-Star goalie is a good reason for the success of the team. Tyler Digby, Chris Wardle, Ryan Lee, Zed Williams, and Eli McLaughlin to name just a few lead a strong offense. Joey Cupido is always dangerous in transition. A veteran defense led by Robert Hope, John Lintz, Scott Carnegie, and Jordan Gillies. Dillon Ward is always solid in net. This team has played well all year, but I think the best is yet to come. The games against San Diego will be epic!
Vancouver Warriors (5-3) – Grade B
The Warriors have been the most improved team this year. This is by no means a pushover team anymore! Mitch Jones, Keagan Bal, Adam Charlambides, and Matthew Dinsdale have been on fire this year scoring 91 goals in only 8 games. Alex Buque has been solid in net, and with a tough defense led by Brett Mydske, with Owen Barker, Reid Bowering, and Garrett McIntosh, no one is pushing this team around.
If they can keep this level up in the second half, a playoff birth will be in the cards for this group!
Calgary Roughnecks (3-5) – Grade: C
This team is still finding it’s post Dane Dobbie identity. Although they started well, an injury to their captain Curtis Dickson set them back. With a healthy Dickson, Zach Herreweyers, Tyler Pace, Cole Pickup, Dan Taylor, and Jesse King, this group can keep up with any offense in the league. A younger defense is growing into their roles, but with Christian Del Bianco in net, every game is winnable. Look for a dogfight between the Roughnecks and the Warriors for the final playoff spot down the stretch.
Saskatchewan Rush (2-6) – Grade: D+
I’m not used to seeing this team this low in the standings, but this is a re-tooling year for the Rush. Having lost character players like Brett Mydske, Ben McIntosh, and Evan Kirk, this team is still trying to find their mojo. Ryan Keenan, Josh Currier, Jeff Shattler, Mark Matthews and Robert Church are solid offensive threats, add in Dan Lintner and this is a very strong front end. Mike Messenger has been good on faceoffs, and excellent in transition as well. Matt Beers, Kyle Rubisch, Jeff Cornwall, and Holden Garlent are all veteran defensemen capable of turning this ship around. Adam Chute has played decent in net, but has not been able to steal any games for the Rush. This team is much better than it has been playing in the first half. Look for more intensity from this group in the second half.
Panther City Lacrosse Club (1-8) – Grade D
This expansion team is having growing pains, but has been much more competitive as of late. Phil Caputo, Patrick Dodds, Nathan Grenon, Will Malcom, as well as the newly signed Cam Milligan, is a good mix of veterans, and rookies. With Randy Staats back next year, and top junior pick Jonathan Donville coming, this team will be a juggernaut for years to come, but are struggling this season. With Liam Patten, Jordan Trottier, Connor Sellars, and Ryan McLean, this is a big tough defense. Jeremy Thompson has been good on faceoffs and transition. Nick Damude in a good netminder, and should help get this team to the next level. I expect this team to be a much tougher opponent in the second half.
The coaching staff of Head Coach Tracey Kelusky, Offensive Coach Dan Teat, and Defensive Coach Steve Toll, are one of the best groups to lead this group out of expansion growth, to be a viable contender. This team will be dangerous sooner rather than later.
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.