Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2012 OLA Jr. B Awards

It's awards season in Ontario and now the Jr. B League has announced their award winners. Each Conference chooses for their own conference so there are two winners for each award.

Rookie of the Year:
East- Derreck Downs (Mimico)
West- Lucas Ducharme (Windsor

Most Valuable Player
East- Dylan Goddard (Green Gaels)
West- Jake Weidner (Elora)

Most Valuable Defensive Player
East- Oakley Thomas (Akwesasne)
West- Eric Guiltinen (London)

Top Goaltenders (lowest Team Goals Against Average)
East- Akwesasne (Jake Lazore and Kanathason Horn-David)
West- London (Tyler Glebe)

Most Sportsmanlike
East- Bowman Webster (Newmarket)
West- Ian King (London)

Coaching Staff of the Year
East- Akwesasne
West- London

Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 OLA Jr. A League Award Winners and All-Star Teams

The Ontario Junior A League has announced their award winners and All-Star teams for the 2012 season. Some great players in this group.

Most Valuable Player (tie)- McIntosh Memorial Award
Dhane Smith- KW Braves
Jeremy Noble- Orangeville Northmen

Rookie of the Year- Nieuwendyk Award
Zach Herreweyers- Peterborough Lakers

Outstanding Defensive Player- Gus McCauley Award
Jason Noble- Orangeville Northmen

Outstanding Goalies- Melville Award
Alexis Buque and Lukas Coote- Whitby Warriors

Most Sportsmanlike Player- Powless Memorial Award
Curtis Knight- Whitby Warriors

Most Outstanding Player- Veltman Award
Jeremy Noble- Orangeville Northmen

Leading Scorer- Allen Award
Dhane Smith- KW Braves

First All-Star Team
Goal: Dillon Ward- Orangeville Northmen
Def: Jason Noble- Orangeville Northmen
Def: Ethan O'Conner- Burlington Chiefs
Off: Jeremy Noble- Orangeville Northmen
Off: Johnny Powless- Six Nations Arrows
Off: Dhane Smith- KW Braves

Second All-Star Team
Goal: Warren Hill- Six Nations Arrows
Def: Graeme Hossack- Whitby Warriors
Def: Kyle Issacs- Six Nations Arrows
Off: Randy Staats- Six Nations Arrows
Off: Mark Cockerton- Whitby Warriors
Off: Curtis Knight- Whitby Warriors

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Super Tuesday

Plenty of Junior B action tonight and every game has some sort of playoff implication. Follow our Twitter-fed liveblog from across the province and find out which team makes the grade for the 2012 playoffs.

Friday, June 15, 2012

LLB Live Quick Recap

Peterborough at Whitby

This game had all the hallmarks of an intense game. Both teams/towns are rivals in everything. Peterborough defeated Whitby earlier in the week with a spirited third period comeback. Whitby felt they were robbed on a controversial goal call during the game. We arrived expecting a tightly fought contest.

What we got instead was as thorough a victory as we have seen in some time.

Both teams started out sloppy in the first period as the compressed schedule is obviously taking a toll on the player’s focus. Reilly O’Connor scored a nifty goal as he drove the net, faked a shot to get Danko to drop down (it was a great fake) and then fired it into the top of the net all while he had a man draped all over him. Whitby got a couple of late goals from Ryan Keenan as they started to find their game. Peterborough had two late power plays to get a spark and couldn’t muster much.

The second period saw Whitby pick up their game as they popped 3 goals in the first 5 minutes to extend the lead to 6-0. Peterborough looking disinterested and even their angry penalties were more ire penalties. Nick Weiss finally breaks the shutout and you expect the Lakers to mount a surge. They push harder for the last 10 minutes but Whitby’s D slams the door time and again. The period ends with Graeme Hossack levelling a Lakers ball carrier who is a little to lackadaisical and pays the price. Danko is mercifully pulled after the 7th goal. Rob Crews plays the last half and acquits himself well in the net.

Being down 8-1 after two periods, you expect some fire in the belly response from Peterborough but they just don’t have it. Five straight to start the period by the Warriors brings out the fat lady for a song. I teasingly joke that a Hossack and Lum-Walker odd man rush isn’t like watching Cockerton and Knight on the same rush when Cockerton and Knight prove me right 3 minutes later as Cockerton finishes the scoring with a nice goal past Crews.

Peterborough Star:
I thought backup Rob Crews came in a played pretty well in the second half to give his team a chance to close the gap for the third period. His scorers were not up to the task this game.

Whitby Star:
Reilly O’Connor was great on Offence all night. His goal was a thing of beauty but his ball movement on O was precise and quick. He finished with 1 Goal and 5 Assists.

Unsung Player of the Game:
Graeme Hossack was great on Whitby’s defence all night and even got rewarded with a goal in transition as he fired a long bouncer past Danko. He used his size well to close the middle and was strong on looseballs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

LLB Live Quick Recap

Brampton Excelsiors at Burlington Chiefs

You’ve gotta love early season games where both teams are still down players due to US School commitments. Brampton was short Keane, Heseltine, Fereira and Newhouse from their regular lineup. Burlington was down most of the right side offence plus Cole from the left side.

The Chiefs make it plain as to their strategy. Run, run and run a bit more. In the first period they looked good in transition but were a bit rusty in completing passes when it counted and could only muster a 2 goal lead. Brampton tried to run with the Chiefs but that really isn’t their game and it showed.

Excelsiors coach, Dean George had obviously figured out that playing Burlington’s game was a path to failure and Brampton was noticeably better in shutting down the transition game of the home town team. They started to grind the defence down and that opened things up for them. Brampton dominated the first 15 minutes and save for a couple of Ethan O’Connor breakaway goals for the Chiefs, it was 8-0 for Brampton over this time. The tide had turned for the visitors.

The third was a tighter period as the Chiefs couldn’t muster much on their power play chances (taking penalties on offence while on the PP sure doesn’t help the cause) and were frustrated by Nate Barlow on a couple of opportunities. Brampton pushed the lead to 4 goals before giving up a couple in the last few minutes to make it a tight last 2 minutes. Not to worry for the boys in maroon as Burlington couldn’t cut the lead any further. Final score 13-11 for Brampton.

Burlington Star:
Ethan O’Connor was a force all game long. He finished with 2 and 2 but his speed in transition gave Brampton fits all night.

Brampton Star:
Wayne McCann finished with 2 and 4 before he was thrown out in the third on a hit from behind (the proper call). He was strong on looseballs and controlled the right side for Brampton.

Unsung Player of the Game:
Brandon Robinson (Brampton) had 2 and 1 but with some luck could have had 5 or 6 goals. He provided the size Brampton needed up front and helped clear a lot of space with his picks.

Full game Sheet:

Monday, April 30, 2012

LLB Live 2012 Schedule

We are less than a week away from the start of the Jr. A season and two weeks away from our first LLB Live Game of the Week.

On Monday, May 14th we'll come to you from the friendly confines of Central Arena in Burlington as the Chiefs host the Brampton Excelsiors. We're live at 7:55pm.

Here is our upcoming schedule of additional LLB Live games.

Sunday, May 20th Whitby at Orangeville 7pm
Friday, May 25 Six Nations at Orangeville 8pm
Tuesday, May 29 Orangeville at Whitby 8pm
Friday, June 8 Peterborough at Brampton 8pm
Thursday, June 14 Peterborough at Whitby 8pm
Monday, June 18 St. Catherines at Burlington 8pm

The last two weeks of the season we will switch to a Flex Schedule to bring our fans the best game possible as we lead into the Playoffs.

Visit our website on game day for your OLA Junior A Lacrosse fix this summer!

Don't forget our Jr. A Season Preview live chat with coach Derek Keenan, GM Bob Hanna and President Mark Brown of the Whitby Warriors. We'll look ahead to the season and also have a preview of their plans for the 2012 Minto Cup Tournament.


Friday, March 23, 2012

A Look at the 2012 OLA Junior A Schedule

The OLA Jr. A Schedule is out and it's going to be an action packed 2 months before Canada Day. The schedule was condensed to accomodate the large contingent of players heading to Finland for the Junior World Field Lacrosse Championships. The best of 5 Opening Round of playoffs will take place from July 1st to July 7th.

May Highlights:
KW hosts Peterborough on May 6th to kick off the season.
The Beach (aka- Northmen farm team) looks to impress their new leadership (Northmen alumni, Brodie Merrill and Bruce Codd) when they visit Tony Rose on May 11th.
Six Nations looks to avenge their two defeats to Brampton in 2011, starting with a visit to the rowdy Powerade Centre on May 18.
Our first rematch of the 2011 championship has the Minto Champion Warriors in Orangeville on May 20th.
The second game is back in Whitby on May 29th. Two great games to get out and watch.
The Beach visits Mississauga on May 27th. Two teams enter, one team leaves...victorious.
Six Nations plays a gruelling 3 games in 4 nights starting in Orangeville on May 25, then at home vs Burlington May 27 and on the road to Peterborough on May 28. That will be a real test for the Arrows.

June Highlights:
June begins with Peterborough at Orangeville on the 1st. Will the Lakers still be feeling the sting from the Game 7 heartbreaker in last year's playoffs?
June 3rd has two big matches as St. Catherines heads to Brampton and Orangeville visits Six Nations.
Peterborough travels to Brampton on June 8th after knocking the Excelsiors out of last year's playoffs with a surprising sweep. Brampton will be looking for a measure of redemption
Six Nations visits the home of the 2012 Minto Cup and sight of their demise last year, when they head to Whitby on June 23rd.
June 29th is the busiest day of the season with 10 of 11 teams playing. With the playoffs starting a couple of days later, watch for this day to be the determining day for seedings.
The regular season ends on June 30th with the always entertaining Six Nations vs St. Catherines derby. This could be a potential playoff matchup by this time of the year so look for both teams to battle tooth and nail to the finish.

The full schedule will be posted shortly, once it has been properly formatted.

For your OLA Junior A scoreboard, visit the league's website: http://www.pointstreaksites.com/view/olajralacrosse

Friday, March 9, 2012

Peaks and Valleys- A weekly look at the NLL

After a hiatus to handle some family stuff (a little blogger on its way), we are back this week with a look at the Buffalo Bandits. Coles notes version: Time to rebuild the team!

Peaks and Valleys- Buffalo what?

Oh how quickly a 2 and 0 start can evaporate. For the first 11 quarters of action, the Buffalo Bandits looked like they would run away with the East Division. They had soundly beaten Toronto and Rochester and were on their way to beating Philadelphia (leading 9-7 heading into the 4th quarter). Suddenly, the wheels fell off. Philly outscores Buffalo 6-1 to steal a win on the road and Buffalo hasn’t won since then.

The Bandits have dropped 5 straight games and look awful in doing it. They have trailed heading to the 4th quarter in their last 4 games (not a recipe for success). They traded for the rights to Anthony Cosmo thinking that goaltending was an area they needed to improve. Cosmo was rusty in his first action and didn’t last the whole game.

But what is the real issue for the dreadful results of late? Are there other issues that are getting missed? Let’s take a look at how they got here.

Step 1- Whiff the Boston Dispersal Draft
Buffalo took 2 players in the Boston Dispersal Draft, Kevin Buchanan and Damon Edwards. Edwards is now in Toronto after a stint in CLax and it looks like Buchanan left his game in Boston. For Boston in 2011 he had 24 goals and 33 assists. For Buffalo he has 2 goals and 10 assists. His points per game average has dropped from 3.8 to 2.0 this season. That is two picks that were misses for the Bandits and mistakes like that in a very competitive league doom a team to failure.

Step 2- Bad drafting
On top of whiffing the latest dispersal draft, Buffalo has been anemic in the Entry Draft too. They had no first round pick in 2011 and their 2010 first round pick (Travis Irving) has dressed for 2 games this season. In 2009 they took Kyle Clancey ahead of Stephen Leblanc and Scott Tinning, both of whom are contributors for their respective teams today. Clancey isn’t even on the Bandits active roster. They had no first round pick in 2007 or 2008. That’s five straight years without any influx of youthful talent.

Step 3- Keep on, keeping on
Darris Kilgour has been the coach since 2003. Mark Steenhuis has been a Bandit since 2003. John Tavares has been a Bandit his entire career.
The point? That’s a long time! These 3 are the core of the team but they are all now a little long in the tooth.

Steenhuis has gone from 101 points and 117 Looseballs in 2009 to 61 points and 82 Looseballs in 2011. This season he is on pace for his lowest point total since 2004. Like Buchanan, his point production has dropped by half over time. When your best player is over 40 and your second best player has production dropping like a stone, you are in a lot of trouble.

Step 4- Additions that are not adding much
Luke Wiles has had a fantastic season in Buffalo. His stats are up after his move from Washington and it looks like he is hitting his peak producing years. That is good for Buffalo.

What about another recent addition though? Tracey Kelusky has had a miserable year. In 2011 with Buffalo he had a respectable 54 points with a 3.37 per game average. In 2010 with Calgary he averaged 4.9 points per game and in 2009 he averaged a fantastic 5.25 points per game.

In 2012? Kelusky is on pace for 36 points (a career low!) with a measily 2.25 per game average.

Conclusion- A call for rebuilding
What now for Buffalo? It’s clear that they have an aging and underperforming roster in need of changes. It is also clear that they have few assets in the pipeline right now that will help them change that (Their 2012 first round pick was also traded away).

Do they move a player like Steenhuis while he still can draw some value in return? (Yes)

Do they change the coach in order to effect some changes in their organization and make a youth movement? (Yes)

Is this a team built for short term success? (No)

They may not want to hear this in Buffalo, but the Bandits need to move into rebuilding mode. They have some good pieces to build around (Wiles, good young defenders and Cosmo) and there several real quality players coming up in the next few years to draft to help speed the process.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Timeouts- A Coach's greatest weapon....for failure?

When we started our journey to look deeper at Lacrosse statistical analysis, we wanted to use other sports as areas that could generate some ideas for discussion.

In doing so, we keep getting drawn towards Basketball as a source of great information. It's a sport that has fully embraced statistical analysis and more importantly, it is the one sport that is most similar to Lacrosse in style of play. The depth of analysis in Basketball is comparible to what is being done in Baseball.

ESPN has been a real fountain of stats and they posted the following article the other day about Timeouts and the impact on team offensive success in the NBA. http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/37405/evidence-timeouts-hurt-scoring

In the study they noted that a team's shooting percentage was lower AFTER a timeout than it was WITHOUT a timeout being called. They looked at close games (less than 5 points behind or tied) and at various points in the final 5 minutes of the game (Winning Time as we like to call it).

How often have you been to a Lacrosse game and the trailing team calls their timeout with less than a minute to go? I coach and I know it's common. Heck even my team calls the timeout in that situation! Then I thought about the other side of it.

As the defending team, I like having 60 seconds to set our defence and get my best 5 defenders on the floor but why would I not think the opposite way as the attacking team? Why allow the opponent to rest their D guys and get on the floor where they want them to be? Why not force a defender to rush out on the floor, find his cover in transition and then also figure out what play is being run?

The questions is, would a trailing team be more successful if they eschewed the Timeout and had their offence attack in transition?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Peaks and Valleys- Ball Hogs part 2

If you read our posting from Tuesday, you will know that we were inspired by an article from Freakonomics to look at the relationship between volume shooters and efficient shooters. We are taking a look at the Top 15 Shots at Goal (SAG) vs Top 15 in Shooting Efficiency (eS%)and how that translates into team success. Special thanks to Dan Shirley for providing us with the date on eS% for individuals and the teams in general.

Top 15 SAG:
Player                Team        SAG    eS%    Team Win %age

Cody Jamieson   ROC        90      0.309         0.333
John Grant Jr.     COL        87      0.326         1.000
Lewis Ratcliff     WAS        84      0.201         0.200
Rhys Duch         WAS        75      0.222         0.200
Luke Wiles         BUF         74      0.299         0.333
John Tavares      BUF         62      0.371         0.333
Brendan Mundorf PHI        61      0.177         0.600
Kevin Crowley   PHI          61      0.335         0.600
Stephen Keogh  ROC        60       0.235         0.333
Jeff Shattler        CGY        59       0.256         0.600
Drew Westervelt PHI         58       0.370         0.600
Shawn Evans     CGY        56        0.227         0.600
Mike Accursi     ROC        56       0.287          0.333
Ryan Benesch    MIN         54       0.417          0.600
Dane Dobbie    CGY          53       0.214          0.600

The average Team winning %age for this group? It's .484.

Top 15 eS% (minimum 18 SAG):
Player             Team        eS%     Team Win %age

Adam Jones    COL       0.455          1.000
Johnny Powless ROC     0.441          0.333
Ryan Benesch   MIN      0.417          0.600
Jordan MacIntosh MIN  0.413          0.600
Cory Vitarelli    ROC      0.399          0.333
Corbyn Tao     MIN       0.393          0.600
John Tavares    BUF       0.371          0.333
Drew Westervelt PHI     0.370           0.600
Chad Culp        BUF      0.362           0.333
Josh Sanderson TOR      0.356           0.600
Kevin Crowley  PHI       0.335           0.600
John Grant Jr.   COL      0.326           1.000
Gavin Prout      COL      0.321           1.000
Scott Evans     EDM       0.321           0.250
Scott Ranger   CGY       0.321           0.600

The average Team Winning %age for this group? It's .585 which is a huge gap from the average for high volume shooters. I would read this as the better teams have more efficient offences. The game still comes down to the ability to outscore your opponents. If you can score on 30% of your shots at goal and your opponent only does it on 27% of their shots on goal, you are more likely to win unless you are outshot by a wide margin.

Colorado is undefeated because they have all 3 of their top Offensive players in the Top 15 in eS% including an incredible 0.455 for rookie, Adam Jones (not surprising to those of us in Ontario who knew how good Jones would be). Washington is in last place because Duch and Ratcliff are dominating the shot totals while being inefficient scorers. Efficient offence equals wins.

It was also interesting that 3 rookies are in the top 4 in eS% (MacIntosh and Powless on top of Jones) which shows how deep the past year's draft really was.

On a lark, I expanded the grouping to look at players with 10 shots or more (about an average of 2 per game)which should include more Transition players which are an important source of scoring this year. The top 3 in eS% in this expanded level would be Andrew Suitor of Minnesota (0.643 eS%), Jamie Rooney of Toronto (0.562 eS%) and Brodie Merrill of Philadelphia (0.467 eS%). It's no surprise that they all play for teams with winning records. Rooney is showing that he belongs in the Toronto lineup after being a healthy scratch in the Rock's first two games.

The Ugly side of that are Ned Crotty of Philadelphia (0.090 eS%), Joel Henry of Minnesota (0.100 eS%) and Dean Hill of Washington (0.109 eS%). Maybe those three should dish to the Offence and take less shots.

Those who wish to hear more stats talk from Dan Shirley, follow him on Twitter @danshirley. He talks Lax and Washington State University athletics (Go Cougs)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ball Hogs Get All The Girls

We retweeted an interesting article from the guys at Freakonomics yesterday that looked some statistics around group meetings and which person was viewed most positively after the meeting. Sounds kind boring but they took it a step further and compared that to Basketball and a team who has a high volume shooter.

The question became "does a high volume shooter benefit in his reputation simply because he shoots a lot?". It's an interesting question and one that can translate quite easily to Lacrosse. We have commented on the exploits of John Grant Jr. already this season but he is a high volume shooter (currently leading NLL in shots at Net per game). Cody Jamieson is another high volume shooter (second in shots on net). Do they benefit in the fan's mind from our bias towards thinking "the guy who shoots a lot is obviously the best player"? It is an interesting question and one that we will take a detailed look at later this week in Peaks and Valleys.

For now, here is the article from Freakonomics: http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/02/13/ball-hogs-and-long-meetings/#

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Peaks and Valleys- A Weekly Look at NLL Trends

It was All-Star roster week and there were some mild surprises on both sides. It is a bit premature to name the All Stars when most teams have played 1/4 of their season games but we will not split hairs here. Let's take a closer look at the rosters:

Valley- All-Star errors East Division

If the goal of the All Star Game is to reward those players which are playing the best that specific season then one player stands out on the East roster; Colin Doyle.

Doyle has had a fantastic career and this selection may have been a career achievement choice because his stats on the season are well below others and his own career stats. Sure he has missed the last 2 Rock games because of injury but 4 goals in 3 games is not the Popeye of old. More worrisome is his 4 looseballs. That's not an average, that's his total for the season!
Watching games this season, Doyle has seemed a step slow. It has translated to his early season stats. It may just be a concidence but Toronto's offence has been much better over the past 2 games and Stephen Leblanc has found his game after seeming lost early in the season.

Another error is the premature inclusion of Johnny Powless in his rookie season. Powless has had a solid start to his NLL Career but to name him to the All Star roster based on his early play neglects better choices from Rochester. He is 6th on his team in scoring (9G, 6A for 15 Points, 12 LBs) and has been outplayed in all areas by Stephen Keogh (9G, 12A for 21 Points, 16 LBs) and Cory Vitarelli (11G, 7A for 18 Points, 25 LBs) on his own Knighthawks team.

Powless will be a strong player in the future but Vitarelli or Keogh are more deserving of All Star nods based on this year's results.

Valley- All Star errors West Division

The West Division has been the better division after the first quarter of the season. It shows in the depth of their All Star choices. Grant, Prout and the rookie, Jones have been lights out for Colorado all season and are deserving choices. Crawford and Benesch from Minny are having quietly productive seasons. You can make a solid argument for all the players on the team.

The omission though? Scott Ranger from Calgary. Ranger has been a threat for Calgary in all their games and is tied for the team lead in goals with about half the shots at net when compared to Dobbie and Dickson. I think Ranger is caught in a "they all look the same" dilemma when trying to figure out Roughnecks All Stars. The difference between Ranger, Dickson, Shattler, Evans and Dobbie is so small overall that selecting the reigning league MVP (Shattler) is the easy choice.

Peaks- All Star Rookies

A number of first timers were selected and it is nice to see the league transition from the old guard to the new guard. Twelve players were selected to their first All Star game which is a good sign for the future of the league. Congratulations to them all and I hope they will be at many more All Star games.

One could argue that Mike Thompson as the East Starting goalie is an error but no goalie in the East Division has really exerted themselves over the season so far. You could throw a blanket over all the tenders right now. One of the problems with choosing All Stars after 3-4 games I guess. Given a few more games it is likely that someone would have risen from the East pack. I do think Thompson benefitted from a great performance against the Rock when he was clearly superior to Roik in a big game.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Peaks and Valleys- A Weekly look at NLL Trends

What a difference one weekend can make! Last week it looked like Toronto was done and Buffalo would take the East. A 2-0 weekend for the Rock has righted the ship, a poor result in Minnesota by the Bandits and suddenly the Philadelphia Wings (?) are in first place. The league is very tight and the small plays that go unnoticed can make all the difference.

Valley- Dane Dobbie reported as missing

In the Calgary's season opener at Toronto, Dobbie was at his mercurial best. Mixing it up with everyone, driving to the net hard and generally impacting the game with his effort. Fast forward to the rematch in Calgary this past weekend and notice the discrepancy in stats.
In Game 1 he finished with 3 goals and 3 assists. In Game 2 he had 1 goal and 3 assists. Both are respectable point totals but it's the other stats that tell the true story.
In Game 1, Dobbie took 17 shots at the net, had 3 LBs, 2 Turnovers, 1 Takeaway and a penalty. A typical Dobbie game over his career.
In Game 2 this past Saturday, Dobbie had 3 shots at the net, 1 Turnover and ZERO LBs and Takeaways.
For Calgary to have any success, they need a lot more of Game 1 Dobbie and a lot less of Game 2 Dobbie.

Peak- Kasey Beirnes, The underrated star in Toronto

I've always been a fan of Kasey Beirnes' game. He's not the fastest, doesn't have a booming shot and is not particularly imposing when you see his name next to Sanderson, Doyle, Leblanc and Billings. But make no mistake, Kasey Beirnes has a huge impact on Toronto's offence in all categories. Let's take a look at his season so far:
In 4 games he has 5 Goals and 6 Assists which is about on average for his career. Now in the 11th year of his career, Beirnes has averaged about 4.75 Looseballs per game and has been fairly consistent. This year though he has upped his average to 5.75 looseballs per game. Over the past 3 games he has 22 LBs (Many of which are LB Plus) which is an average over 7 LBs a game. That's a great average for any player. Beirnes may not be putting up the big points but his hard work is allowing players like Sanderson and Billings to post big numbers and for his team to win games.

Valley- Stealth; Having the ability to prevent detection

Never has a dictionary definition better described a Lacrosse team than it currently does with the Washington Stealth. Dropping their last game AT HOME to Edmonton by a 16-5 score is hopefully the low point for last year's Champions Cup Finalists. Oh and Three isn't the end of the world but averaging 8 goals a game on offence just won't cut it this year.
They have been outscored 12-5 in the first quarter so far this season which is a worrisome trend. In order to right the ship they will need better starts than what they have gotten so far.

Can someone please tell the NLL to add more servers to the system? The redesign is nice but there are many times when we are unable to retrieve data from their website because the servers are too slow/too few.
After watching 4 weeks of action it is time to come out and state our approval of the new rules. The 8 second count to cross centre has had some impact on speeding up the game. The tightened up change rules are allowing more transition shots which is improving flow. The best rule however has been the immediate drop the ball on possession changes. One simple rule has taken away all the stupidity and tactics that have slowed the game down for years. Now all we need is for that rule to come to the summer leagues in Canada. Let's get it done, CLA!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Peaks and Valleys- A weekly look at NLL Trends

Junior cracks 1000


We are taking a break from slagging poor performances this week to celebrate John Grant Jr’s 1000th point. He joined John Tavares, Gary Gait, Colin Doyle and Josh Sanderson in the exclusive 1000 Point Club as he led his Colorado Mammoth to a big win in Calgary last week.

Junior has always attracted a wide array of opinions during his career. For every person who thinks he is a magician, there is a dissenter who labels him an under-performer. Well 1000 points certainly doesn’t scream “under perform” does it?

Let’s take a look at his NLL Career stats: (Courtesy- www.nll.com)

                              Games Goals Assists Points LBs PIM

2000 R Rochester    12       37      40        77     76    32
2000 P Rochester      2         9        7        16       9      6
2001 R Rochester    14       42      48        90   124    18
2001 P Rochester      1         3        1          4       5      0
2002 R Rochester    16       52      53      105   102    43
2002 P Rochester      2         6        5        11     10      0
2003 R Rochester    16       46      53        99   115    20
2003 P Rochester      2         6        7        13     17      4
2004 R Rochester      5       16      19        35     34      6
2005 R Rochester    15       49      56      105     83    31
2005 P Rochester      2         7        6        13       7      2
2006 R Rochester    16       54      43        97     86    22
2006 P Rochester      2         8        2        10       8      2
2007 R Rochester    15       51      60      111     81    40
2007 P Rochester      3         8        7        15     24      0
2008 R Rochester    16       47      45        92   116    16
2010 R Rochester    15       39      44        83     85    17
2011 R Colorado     16       36      47        83     45    12
2011 P Colorado       1         3        1          4       2      0

Career Totals                     519   544    1063  1030  271

The raw numbers are amazing to look at especially for the balance. He isn’t a pass-first player nor is he a straight gunner. To amass 500 goals AND 500 assists is incredible.

What really stands out in the stats are his ability to put up consistently strong numbers throughout his career in all categories. He has 1000 points but also has 1000 Looseballs. For comparison Colin Doyle, has put up 1200 points and 965 Looseballs which is also incredible.

Looking at the stats even further you then remember that Junior only played 5 games in 2004 and missed the entire 2009 season due to injuries and illness. Using his averages around those missing season would add 150 Points and Looseballs to his totals.

It also seems that the cool Mountain air has rejuvenated him. Though playing with Gavin Prout and young gun, Adam Jones certainly helps, Junior is on pace for a career best 149 points at the age of 38.

So let us celebrate the career of John Grant Jr. He has persevered through a knee injury and a serious infection to continually provide brilliance season after season. He is one of the games greats.


We continue or work on LB Plus and anecdotally it seems that our thesis is being proven. Of course we will let the season play out and perform the work before claiming our brilliance to the Lacrosse world!

What is noticeable is the ability of the winning teams to limit second chances and the inability of losing teams to do the same. Toronto is winless because they give up too many second chances on Defence while simultaneously running countless 1 shot and out possessions on Offence. Philadelphia turned their game around after a terrible opener by performing on defence and limiting second chance opportunities.

Friday, January 20, 2012

2012 Six Nations Rebels Jr. B Tournament Schedule

What once seemed so far away is now closer as Six Nations has published their Pre-Season Tournament Showcase schedule. Just over 2 months to March 31st, fans.
We will be there and provide score updates via our Twitter feed.  http://twitter.com/LiveLaxBlog

All games at the ILA.

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM


10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Peaks and Valleys- A Weekly Look at NLL Trends

Peaks and Valleys

Your weekly look at the trends in the NLL

After the first full week of games, it’s time to look at some early items that pop out in the stats.

Peak- Calgary’s finishing touch

If you watched the first quarter of the season opener in Toronto, you would have thought Calgary was a men’s league team. They looked disorganized and sloppy. What changed? Well they got their transition game in order and started generating multiple shots on a possession and worked their way back into the game.

More strikingly, they have outscored their opponents 18-8 in the second half of games. Since those games have been against Toronto and Washington, Finalists for the past 2 seasons, you can’t complain about the strength of their opponent. Should this trend keep up throughout the season, look for Calgary to make a push for top seed.

Valley- Toronto Rock offence

The defending champs are 0-2 and looking decidedly old. Both Buffalo and Calgary exposed their transition game to generate several chances.

One can debate the current whereabouts of Stephan Leblanc but it’s a failure of the whole unit that stands out. Against Buffalo in the first quarter they generated 1 second chance opportunity. Buffalo had one sequence where Steinhaus got a rebound and was stoned by Roik, only to have Culp pick up the second rebound work it around a bit and then get it back before firing a goal past Roik to tie it at 3-3. Doyle, Billings, Sanderson and Carey have a combined 8 Looseballs over the first two games. If not for Kasey Beirnes with 11 LB’s vs Buffalo it would look even uglier.

In order to get their offence on track, they need to get their big guns doing more of the dirty work and generating more LB Plus and more second chances. Buffalo and Calgary used that formula to achieve success against Toronto.

Peak- Vintage Mike Accursi

Mike Accursi had a fantastic game at Philadelphia. 10 points is good. 16 total shots is solid. 10 looseballs is fantastic. His stat line looked like it was 2002 when he had 56 points and 98 LB’s for Buffalo. I expect his stats to normalize over the season but it’s nice to see a great player turn back the clock from time to time.

Valley- Philadelphia Defence

They gave up 22 goals. Gave up 7 PP Goals in 11 chances and generally looked awful in their home opener. They look like a two player team up from with Dawson and Crowley pulling the load.

However what really stands out is a lowly 3 forced turnovers. In 60 minutes of action it takes true ineptitude to only force 3 turnovers. Granted the game devolved into a penalty-filled punchfest but unless Philly gets better on D it looks like a long year is ahead in the City of Brotherly Love.


Further to our post last week on LB Plus, we have done some work with Dan Shirley of the NLLBlog to develop game logs for each NLL game this week. We will track every possession in a game as a way to further develop the field of statistics in Lacrosse. Look for more details as we advance through the season and work out the kinks.

I am also now questioning the recording of Turnovers and Forced Turnovers on the NLL website. In each game there are a larger number of TOs when compared to FTs. It would seem reasonable to state that to have a Turnover. Now with game logs we can hash out exactly how to balance turnovers and forced turnovers to make them match up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not All Looseballs Are Created Equal

It’s a simple game, Lacrosse. Score more than the other guy and you win. To score more however, you need to typically have the ball more than the other guy. You can accomplish this in several ways (make more saves for one) but the chief statistic we use and one coaches harp on repeatedly, is the looseball.

A looseball is a ball that is not in the possession of any player and therefore can be obtained by any player on the floor. Collect a looseball and your team can score. Miss a looseball and you can find yourself trudging to the bench after being scored upon. Win the looseball battle and you win the game 9 times out of 10.

The question though is, are all looseballs essential to the team’s success or are certain types of looseballs MORE important to a victory than others? Since Lacrosse boils down to goals and goals are the product of scoring chances or shots it would seem that in some instances a looseball that either denies an opponent a shot attempt or gives your team a second consecutive shot attempt would be more important to team success than picking up a looseball at mid-floor.

We at LiveLaxBlog have decided to study this phenomena which we call, the Looseball Plus (or LB+). A LB+ occurs when an offensive player recovers a ball for his team AFTER a shot at net and which leads to a subsequent shot attempt in the same possession. For the Defence, a LB+ occurs when a defensive player or goalie recovers a ball BEFORE any shot attempt by the Offence on that possession. All other looseball recoveries are simply Looseballs for the purpose of our experiment.

With that in mind, we will be using the 2012 NLL season as a barometer of the effect of LB+ on a team’s winning percentage. For each game we will be tabulating Looseballs and LB+ for each player. We will publish a weekly update, usually on Wednesday, with that week’s LB+ Leaders and the LB+ season leaders for both individuals and teams. Consider it our effort to push the analysis of the sport to a new level.

On top of that, we will be looking at a couple of other new statistics and will debut them as the season progresses. It is our hope that we will find new stats that show how effective (or efficient) an individual player is and how positively (or negatively) they impact their team’s success.

Look for our LB+ stats next week. One game in a weekend is not enough to get a true feel for the statistic. If you have any questions or comments please contact us. We are always happy to discuss and fine tune things to make them work for the game.

Monday, January 9, 2012

OLA Midget Draft First Round Results

Through our various sources we have confirmed the opening round picks for this past weekend's OLA Midget Draft.

1- G. Lewis (OS) to Barrie
2- J. Hulbert (Oak) to Beaches
3- J. Tinney (Gue) to Barrie
4- C. Brown (HH) to Mississauga
5- C. Shilling (Oril) to Barrie
6- E. Renaud (Burl) to Burlington
7- P. Masterson (Lon) to Burlington
8- W. Petschenig (Nep) to Peterborough
9- M. Gilray (Clar) to Peterborough
10- A. Devitcos (WD) to Orangeville
11- B. Milne (Gue) to Burlington
12- T. Fedyk (CW) to Whitby