The NLL Shocks, Surprises and Maybe Some Disappointment

With all but one of the franchises in the National Lacrosse League reaching the one-third mark of the schedule, some are the halfway point, I thought we would break things down.

Early surprises?

The East Division has been eye-catching. New England shot out of the gate and ran off to a 4-0 mark and was one of the top teams in the entire league.

Doug Jamieson has shown that he has become a legitimate starting netminder.

Defensively the Blackwolves are second in the league in goals allowed with 53.

Despite their fiery start, New England has come back to earth and have been saddled with two consecutive defeats.

Georgia, despite all the scoring weapons, started off with a win over Philadelphia before dropping three straight.

Shayne Jackson is a mild surprise and leads the NLL in goals with 21 in the seven games.

Georgia has seemed to rediscover it’s mojo and has won two consecutive and, potential playoff tiebreaker with two victories over Philadelphia.

Zach Higgins has been one of the biggest surprises in the early stages of the season and Philadelphia, as a team, has shown major improvement over their freshman season.

Higgins is second in the league with 335 saves. The Philly back liners have done a nice job keeping shooters to the outside and having a healthy Brett Hickey (17 goals) has been a boost.

The Wings went on a winning streak and surprised the lacrosse world with a victory over Calgary.

The losses have come within the division with New England winning an Overtime contest and Georgia taking a home game and holding on in the Wells Fargo Center.

Philadelphia has two wins over New York and has beaten Rochester and Vancouver. The schedule gets a bit harder so the next few games will determine how good this team is.

New York lost two to Philly and is showing improvement each week.

The Riptide is the epitome of an “expansion” team and is getting cohesion.

In the North is another battle with two games separating three squads.

Halifax is the surprise of the early season by starting off going undefeated and are leading the North at 6-1.

Buffalo, despite the loss of Shawn Evans and injury to Steve Priolo, have not missed a beat with Dhane Smith and Chris Cloutier stepping up.

Corey Small has also upped his game and Matt Vinc always gives the Bandits a chance to win.

The Bandits remain a strong candidate to go far in the playoffs and sit at a game behind Halifax at 5-1.

Toronto has made it work without Adam Jones and Tom Schrieber.

Nick Rose has had a few outstanding games and has calmed the waters to bring the Rock to a 4-2 start.

Rochester, the other expansion team, has struggled at times and has been good at others.

With a bit of luck, this team could have three wins and not looking at 1-6.

To me, the biggest surprise has been the West. Not one team has been consistent and, in fact, all resemble each other thus far.

The Saskatchewan Rush has been a puzzle… what happened to the offense?

The defense has been fine and has only permitted 44 goals in their five games.

The Colorado Mammoth have been streaky all season. Dillon Ward (379 saves) leads the league but, the Mammoth are also struggling to score at a consistent clip at sit in second place at 4-5.

Before the season kicked off, if someone told you, “Vancouver will be ahead of Calgary and San Diego in the standings”, you would have asked them what they are smoking.

But, parity is what it is and Vancouver is in fact, ahead of both clubs.

The Warriors are much improved and maybe starting to click.

Sitting at 3-4, the Vancouver squad is right in the thick of things.

San Diego is getting the injured back and the level of play is getting back to what Seals fans witnessed last season.

A big win in Las Vegas maybe just what the doctor ordered.

Showing why he was MVP, Dane Dobbie is suspended and the Calgary Roughnecks have shown how much he is needed.

Factor in injury to Jesse King and it’s clear why the team is struggling mightily and sitting in an unfamiliar 2-4 and last in the West.

Kevin Neibauer
Kevin Neibauer

Kevin has followed and promoted the game of lacrosse since May 19, 1974.
The same day the Philadelphia Flyers won the Cup, the Philadelphia Wings were introduced to Neibauer and Philadelphia.

Kevin has covered many sports, including baseball, football, basketball, and.. lacrosse. A former licensed football referee and baseball umpire, Kevin brings a unique insight to his game coverage.

A published writer in JustHockey Magazine, Kevin covered the American Hockey League as well as a monthly story on a pugilist where Kevin used the pen name, The Rink Rat. Neibauer turned his attentions to lacrosse for a few years and does his part, whether podcasting or writing to grow the game. Kevin branched out to his roots and currently provides insight for all Philadelphia teams for Edge of Philly as well as his full-time duties with LaxPhilly.