By Ted Montour, E-Lacrosse Indoor Lacrosse Editor
After the second week-end of the 2910 National Lacrosse League season, every team has seen action, and there have been some early noteworthy developments. In the East, the Rochester Knighthawks, with John Grant and Scott Evans back in the line-up, swept the season series against the Buffalo Bandits without John Tavares. The Toronto Rock, with new ownership, re-newed management and coaching staff, and Colin Doyle back in uniform, swept the Boston Blazers with a blow-out in Boston and an overtime beatdown in Toronto.
There was some early chatter about the K’hawks offence, most of it of the “there’s only one ball” variety, but it was Pat O’Toole and the defence holding Buffalo to 5 goals with no multiple-goal scorers in Rochester, and then Craig Point’s four goals, including 2 in a 4 – 2 third quarter that gave Rochester the lead for good in Buffalo, in an ugly contest that included 7 major penalties and a first-quarter ejection for Buffalo defender Ian Llord.
The Rock, with new Head Coach Troy Cordingley and GM / assistant coach Terry Sanderson, dispatched the Blazers to the early-season basement. Colin Doyle celebrated his return with 2 goals and a league-leading 14 assists in the home-and-home series, plus an overblown punch-up at the Air Canada Centre with Paul Dawson. Dangerous Dan’s not-so-little brother has made it in the NLL as a defender, but he’s a GOALIE; Rock fans everywhere, calm down, Doyle had a fight with a GOALIE. On a more serious note, I can’t say whether the downsizing of referee crews made any difference when things got ugly in Toronto and Buffalo, but the situation bears watching. One less zebra, one less pair of eyes — two-man crews mean calls will be missed.
And the Titans won their first game in Florida, before an announced crowd of 8,000+; it took three games to draw that many people in NY / NJ.
Out West, the champion Calgary Roughnecks split with Minnesota, winning in the Saddledome but coming up short in the Twin Cities. At least they have a healthy Tracey Kelusky. The Stealth, re-settled in Everett, Washington but, for the first time in team history, without guru / guiding light Johnny Mouradian, presented their new fans with successive home wins over the Colorado Mammoth and the Edmonton Rush. Jeff Zywicki scored 7 goals in the two games — too bad the Stealth don’t have Dave Huntley’s Philadelphia Wings on the schedule.
In Denver, team President and General Manager Steve Govett, after trading Captain Gavin Prout for the dubious distinction of having three guys named Gajic on the roster, fired Head Coach Bob McMahon after two losses, and decided to make his own coaching debut. Zywicki and the Stealth will, I predict, make the Mammoth 0 – 3 at home to start the 2010 season, and just about guarantee Govett a losing, non-playoff season as a rookie head coach. What then, Steve?