There was no shortage of standout rookie performances during Week 15 of National Lacrosse League action. While the usual suspects in Georgia and Calgary put forth their consistently strong performance, it was the guys who tend to fly under the radar that caught my attention this past week.

In Toronto, Turner Evans continued his strong play of late, picking up four points on a goal and three assists in the Rock’s heartbreaking 14-10 loss to New England. Meanwhile in Buffalo, defender Mitch de Snoo put forth arguably his best performance as an NLL player, scooping up 16 loose balls to go along with creating three turnovers in the Bandits 14-12 win over Rochester. Speaking of the Knighthawks, Ty Thompson recorded his first NLL goal, beating Anthony Cosmo midway through the second quarter of play. Fellow Knighthawk rookie Brad Gillies also had an admirable performance, tallying a goal and five loose balls.

On the West Coast, Stealth forward Keegan Bal had a strong performance in Vancouver’s 16-12 loss to Calgary. The first year player recorded four points on two goals and two assists to go along with two loose balls and five penalty minutes. Teammate Thomas Hoggarth was solid once again for the Stealth while standout rookie Jordan Durston was no slouch himself with three points. In the battle between the Colorado Mammoth and Georgia Swarm, Mike Mallory continued his strong play, racking up three points along with two loose balls and a caused turnover.

1. (1) Jesse King (LF) – Georgia Swarm
15-40-55 – 6 PIM – 111 S – 68 LB – 21 TO – 5 CTO
While Randy Staats continues to lead the Swarm in scoring, King remains the key to the Georgia offence. King’s elite playmaking skills are routinely on full display and last weekend was no exception. With a goal and three assists, King’s four-point performance played a significant role in Georgia’s victory over the Colorado Mammoth. King’s size, skill and playmaking abilities make him nearly impossible to contain. Opponents can merely hope to contain the big lefty.

2. (2) Randy Staats (RF) – Georgia Swarm
28-39-67 – 18 PIM – 179 S – 59 LB – 22 TO – 5 CTO
Staats exploded offensively yet again in Week 15, leading his Swarm past a very strong Colorado squad. Staats led Georgia’s offensive attack with three goals and four assists. With 67 points on the season, Staats is 10 ahead of Wesley Berg for the rookie scoring lead and just five points out of the league’s top ten scorers.

3. (5) Wesley Berg (RF) – Calgary Roughnecks
20-37-57 – 14 PIM – 166 S – 72 LB – 28 TO – 5 CTO
With just one assist in his Week 14 performance against the Saskatchewan Rush, Berg looked to bounce back offensively against the struggling Vancouver Stealth. And that’s exactly what he did as the Coquitlam native tallied a goal and three assists for four points, to go along with four loose balls and nine shots on goal. The model of consistency as far as rookie offensive production goes, Berg has stepped up huge for a Calgary offence that moved consistent 100+ point performer Shawn Evans in the off-season.

4. (3) Chad Tutton (D) – Georgia Swarm
14-7-21 – 28 PIM – 52 S – 70 LB – 20 TO – 20 CTO
I feel like a broken record here, as Tutton was yet again fantastic for the Georgia Swarm in their crucial win over the Colorado Mammoth this past weekend. Strong at the defensive end, Tutton picked up four loose balls and continued to play stout defence. This week his impact was actually greater at the offensive end of the rink, though, as the former Minto Cup champion picked up two goals and one assist for three points. Tutton has arguably the most balanced stat line of any rookie this season, and it is fairly indicative of his on the floor play.

5. (4) Graeme Hossack (D) – Rochester Knighthawks
2-3-5 – 9 PIM – 11 S – 76 LB – 9 TO – 15 CTO
As I mentioned in Week 14’s Rookie Report, It constantly feels like Hossack should be higher in the rookie rankings. His play is just so consistently good that it warrants a top spot. However I simply cannot bump any of the guys in front of him, as they have been equally as good, if not better. This past week Hossack was excellent yet again for Rochester despite their loss to Buffalo. Hossack scooped up six loose balls while forcing two turnovers.

6. (6) Lyle Thompson (RF) – Georgia Swarm
17-26-43 – 8 PIM – 108 S – 60 LB – 24 TO – 9 CTO
Thompson seems to be coming on strong of late. The 2015 first overall pick followed up a three-point performance in Week 14 with a five-point Week 15 performance against Colorado. Thompson has been inconsistent with his point production, however many of the Swarm players have, as the offence is just so deep and talented and there’s only one ball to go around. It seems as though Thompson is getting more touches as of late and is making full use of them, producing in what I would call a secondary role.

7. (7) Anthony Malcom (RF) – Buffalo Bandits
15-15-30 – 2 PIM – 66 S – 36 LB – 16 TO – 1 CTO
After a bit of a slow start to the 2016 season, Malcom has certainly found his niche as a depth scorer with the Bandits. It’s tough to get your touches when you’re playing on an offence that possesses the front runner for the league’s MVP award. It’s even tougher when that player plays on the same side of the offence as you and teams up with yet another potent scoring threat. Still, Malcom has found a way to put up 30 points in 13 games, including two goals and an assist this past week in the Bandits win over Rochester.

8. (9) Jordan Durston (LF) – Vancouver Stealth
13-19-32 – 25 PIM – 56 S – 37 LB – 26 TO – 2 CTO
Durston turned in some quiet performances against the Buffalo Bandits and Toronto Rock, however this past week Durston managed to find the back of the net for the 13th time on the season. Not to beat a dead horse here, but Durston has done an admirable job with the limited amount of touches he receives on a weekly basis. If you watch Durston’s game closely you see his potential and skill level, along with his ability to adapt to any situation he’s thrown into. It would have been quite intriguing to see Durston play with a stronger team this season and see what his impact would have been on, let’s say, a Buffalo or Colorado offence.

9. (10) Turner Evans (LF) – Toronto Rock
4-9-13 – 0 PIM – 41 S – 23 LB – 11 TO – 1 CTO
After he struggled to hold down a consistent spot in the lineup early in the season, a boat load of injuries—including one to captain and left-handed offensive player Colin Doyle—has opened the door for Evans. Evans is taking full advantage of the opportunity as the Peterborough native continues to look more and more comfortable within the Rock offence, finding his niche and producing in that role. With a goal and three assists in the Rock loss, Evans has now posted eight points in his past two games, well over half his season’s production.

10.(NR) Mitch de Snoo (D) – Buffalo Bandits
1-4-5 – 6 PIM – 11 S – 79 LB – 7 TO – 20 CTO
de Snoo consistently flies under the radar and I don’t know why. I admittedly have passed him over myself but this week’s performance really cemented my earlier thoughts on the young Bandits’ defender. de Snoo does such an excellent job in transition but has significantly improved his defensive game. Aggressive one on one defence along with tenacity on loose balls and a never ending compete level…its no wonder de Snoo is finding success. With 16 loose balls and 3 caused turnovers de Snoo was a big standout for the Bandits this past weekend.

Honorable Mentions

Thomas Hoggarth (D) – Vancouver Stealth
Tyson Bell (D) – Calgary Roughnecks
Dan Lintner (RF) – Toronto Rock
Jordan Gilles (D) – Colorado Mammoth

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