Vancouver Warriors Season Preview
Professional lacrosse has been absent since the MLL’s championship game on September 14. That was ages ago. Thankfully, the NLL season rapidly approaches. With three new teams (two if you don’t count Rochester) we are in the midst of unprecedented NLL popularity. This season comes loaded with questions. Will Calgary repeat? Will an American team finally win it all? How will the new franchises perform? With all these questions, it’s time for my NLL franchise previews so fans are informed before opening faceoff on November 29. First up is the Vancouver Warriors.
Vancouver had a rough 2018 season. They opened the season with promise after upsetting Calgary 14-13; however, they followed that with five consecutive losses. Later in the season, a decent mid-season performance put them in reach of a playoff slot. Unfortunately, Vancouver went 1-5 in their final six games, with the last two being uncompetitive (6-18 at Rochester and 9-15 against Toronto). This team had talent, but not enough to compete with the league’s elite.
So, what makes Warriors management optimistic about this season? Improved depth. Second and third liners no longer look like deer in headlights. They are seasoned veterans. Training camp reports state competition for roster spots is at an all-time high.
Speaking of competition, Vancouver is banking on opposing offenses to struggle against a band of bulky defensemen. Tyson Roe, Patrick O’Meara, and James Rahe tower above 6’2’’. The smallest defensemen, Justin Salt and Mike Minichiello, measure at 6’2’’. These big bodies are expected to make it difficult for opposing forwards to harass goaltenders Eric Penney and Aaron Bold from crease.
The acquisition of Bob Snider from Calgary’s practice roster is a massive boon. Snider resides in the NLL’s top ten in career faceoff wins (1,493) and has dominated in training camp. Snider’s faceoff play will go a long way in making Vancouver competitive.
Forwards Jordan McBride (31 goals, 22 assists, and 56 loose balls) and Logan Schuss (24 goals, 48 assists, and 78 loose balls) are crucial to a successful season. Both are fantastic forwards; however, they need support. Obviously, their good play isn’t enough to push Vancouver over the hump. The addition of New England forward Anthony Malcolm gives the Warriors another high-level weapon. Offensively, it’s essential someone steps up. Will it be Malcolm? Will it be draft pick Keegan Bell? Whoever it is, someone must.
Defensively, Vancouver is loaded. I mentioned the defensemen above, but don’t forget about captain Matt Beers, who is an absolute pleasure to watch. Plus, his last name is Canada’s national beverage! How Canadian is that? Beers is a force who can change games on a dime. I expect no different this season. Beers has additional help with the acquisition of Saskatchewan defenseman/transition specialist Nik Bilic. Bilic excels at forcing turnovers and pushing tempo. I guarantee Vancouver fans will enjoy him.
Now you have a gist of Vancouver’s personnel. So how quickly will we know if Vancouver is for real? Very early. The season kicks off with Calgary, New York, San Diego, and a road game against Colorado. Three of those games are division opponents. Vancouver must go 2-2 during that stretch or they risk being buried in the standings. Calgary is most likely a loss. San Diego will be tough. We don’t know much about New York so I’ll predict a win, for now. Road games in Colorado are tough, but the Warriors can prevail.
Vancouver cannot afford to have their season end as it begins. With new ownership, the Warriors need to show improvement for increased support. If the Warriors start 2-1 at home, I predict their average attendance will bump to 7,000 compared to last season’s 6,833. Vancouver has the league’s best jerseys. They need home wins so more folks see them!
Can Vancouver make the playoffs? Yes. They have the talent. I’m optimistic Vancouver goes .500, minimum. I heavily encourage British Colombia residents to make the trek to a home game. This team has potential. Plus, the experience, from what I’ve seen, is underrated. A popping DJ, attractive dancers, lots of Beer (one Beers) and good lacrosse. What more could someone want? You’ll regret missing out when this team snags an at-large playoff bid.
PS: Even if the team loses home games, you'll have some nice views. So go to games!
Did you enjoy this article? Do you disagree with my takes? How could I improve? Are you a Vancouver fan and want to talk Warriors lacrosse? Whatever your thoughts, let me know by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can also subscribe to my website to comment directly onto this article. By subscribing, you will be notified whenever I publish a new article. You can expect more NLL content as the season approaches. Stay tuned for my next preview. Thank you for reading!