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NLL Weekly Grades: High Marks for Wolves

Pat Saunders: A+

When Saunders got his three year deal to stay in New England, it was questioned if he could repeat his breakout 2015. When the Wolves’ reacquired Kevin Crowley and added Shawn Evans, it was questioned how often Saunders would get chances to score. Evidently, he could have an even bigger 2016 after putting up nine points in Vancouver on Saturday night.

Shawn Evans: A

Evans apparently is the same player he was in Calgary after putting up a six point night in his New England debut. He, along with the stellar night from Saunders, led the Black Wolves to 17 goals in the first game of the season.

Evan Kirk: A

Kirk struggled at times last season, but New England stuck with their netminder and in week one, got terrific results. Kirk made 49 saves and allowed just seven goals on the road. After struggling at times last season, it was huge for the Wolves to get a good start out of their goaltender.

Logan Schuss: C

Vancouver’s offense is now without Lewis Ratcliff and Johnny Powless. Replacing Powless was Schuss, who put up 34 points in Vancouver last season, 26 of which were assists. Garrett Billings is a part of that offense now, but the Stealth still need to lean on Schuss, and picking up just one assist is not going to cut it.

Eric Penney: D

Maybe its not totally fair to be hard on Penney, but he was the starting goaltender in a game where 17 goals were allowed. Penney started the contest and played for 35 minutes, allowing 12 goals and saving just 21 shots. He was pulled in the third quarter.

Colin Doyle: C

Doyle didn’t have a bad game on the scoresheet. He had two assists in his first full season back from injury. However, the antics at the end of the contest, a 12-7 loss to the Swarm, was rather uncaptainlike. Doyle received a five minute major high sticking penalty at the end of the contest and went after Jason Noble when he did not want to drop the gloves. There was obvious frustration after scoring just seven goals all game, but it was not a good look in the first game of the season.

Randy Staats: A+

Staats, like the Swarm, might be for real. The rookie has put up seven points in two consecutive weeks, and this past week did it against a historically good Toronto defense and goaltending group. If Staats can keep this up, he might replace the point production lost from Callum Crawford.

Brett Hickey: C

Maybe expectations are unfair for Brett Hickey after he exploded onto the scene with 50 goals last season. But to contribute just one goal and one assist in the first game of the 2016 season is a bit of a disappointment. He will have a chance to bounceback, but the Rock offense is now relying on him.

Brodie MacDonald: A+

After starting the season on the PUP, MacDonald got the chance to start against Toronto in the first home game of the season. The Swarm surrendered 16 goals to a strong Colorado offense in week one, but MacDonald was the key to shutting down Toronto in the second game of the season. Making 35 saves, he allowed just a single goal in the final 40 minutes of the contest.

Kiel Matisz: A+

Georgia already has a pretty good looking offense, so a seven point night from Matisz was surprising but welcomed. Matisz provided a goal and assisted on six others to help lead the Swarm to 12 goals, contributing to over half of them.

Dane Dobbie: A

Dobbie not only had a seven point night when the Roughnecks needed it, but he also scored his 275th career goal to become the Calgary Roughnecks all time leader. Calgary needs an offensive leader, and Dobbie may need to bit it.

Tyler Digby: B+

Digby had a much better second game in Calgary than his first. He scored four points in the loss, three of them goals. He is a goalscorer, as we saw in Vancouver last season, and Calgary needs to see more of it.

Dhane Smith: A

John Tavares is gone and the Bandits need a face of the franchise. It sure looks like Dhane Smith is ready to become that. Smith put up five points in the Bandits first home game and first victory of the season and he scored the game winning goal in the fourth quarter.

Anthony Cosmo: A-

Cosmo faced 50 shots and saved 41 of them. That’s a terrific night for any NLL goaltender, not to mention against a hungry offense. He allowed just nine goals and made 14 of his saves in the fourth quarter alone to lead the Bandits to a 1-0 start.

Adam Jones and Callum Crawford: A

Colorado looks to have the most prominent offense in the league, and most of that is thanks to eight point performances from players such as Jones and Crawford. The duo, along with John Grant Jr, might be the most dynamic group in the NLL. Colorado scored nine goals in the second quarter and these two contributed to seven of them.

Cody Jamieson: A

This was Jamieson’s first game back since tearing his ACL last season, and it appears as if he hasn’t skipped a beat. He scored seven points, five of which were assists, as the Knighthawks scored 14 goals overall.

Matt Vinc: B-

Despite giving up 16 goals, the Knighthawks goaltender was not terrible. He shut out the Mammoth for the entire first quarter before they exploded, and made 33 saves overall.

(Source: Marisa Ingemi – http://inlacrossewetrust.com/nll-weekly-grades-high-marks-for-wolves/)

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