Blaze Head Indoors for Winter
ATLANTA, GA - It might be getting cold outside, but the action is heating up for some Blaze players in arenas across the U.S. and Canada. The National Lacrosse League (NLL) recently began their 2019-2020 season. With 11 Blaze on five different rosters and eight already making their season debuts, Blaze fans can catch some of their favorite players all winter long. Five Blaze play for the Georgia Swarm, the most for a MLL/NLL combination. From a former NLL MVP to this year's #1 overall draft pick, see who to root for this NLL season.
Brett Craig: The 39th overall pick by the Blaze in the 2019 MLL Collegiate Draft made the roster for the Mammoth after being selected 26th in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft. At 6'6" 235lbs, Craig is a mammoth on defense, so he should fit right in a defensively dominant Colorado organization. Craig has yet to make his NLL debut.
TJ Comizio: The rookie was selected 44th in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft by Georgia. Once theÂ short stick defensive midfielder gets his feet under him in the indoor game, where everyone plays with a short stick, he should be a fantastic transitional player. Comizio has not played thus far this NLL season.
Bryan Cole: Now in his fourth year in the NLL, Cole has been a mainstay at transition for the Swarm. Cole played 56 of the possible 60 games from 2016 to 2019, including winning the 2017 title with the Swarm. After a phenomenalÂ MLL season with the Blaze, Cole has continued his red-hot play indoors with five points in the first two games for the Swarm.
The boys are buzzin'! Bryan Cole gets the @GeorgiaSwarmLax on the board!
WATCH LIVE: https://t.co/Ya58wa3p3T pic.twitter.com/52ttvI7jv5
- NLL (@NLL) December 15, 2019
Shayne Jackson:Â An alternate captain for the Swarm, Jackson enters his eighth NLL season. Jackson has been even more reliable than Cole, playing all but two games in his NLL career, all with the Swarm. With 80+ points in the last four seasons, Jackson will once again be a star for a team looking to make a deep playoff run this season. Jackson has been fantastic thus far with 12 points through the first two games.
fooled ya ??
Shayne Jackson gets a hat trick for the @GeorgiaSwarmLAX pic.twitter.com/nnvyK3e1GQ
- NLL (@NLL) December 15, 2019
Randy Staats:Â The Blaze star andÂ Iroquois National is also one of the most electrifying players in the NLL. His play is perfect for the indoor game, which shows with hisÂ multiple 90+ points seasons. Between stinging corners and behind-the-back passes, Staats is a player you can't keep your eyes off of, no matter what the surface. StaatsÂ has nine points through the first two games of the season.
"Randy (Staats) is maybe the most underrated player in the world" [email protected] getting the shoutout from former Blaze Defensive Coordinator @jamiemunro3 ?? pic.twitter.com/0xOvocorRm
- Atlanta Blaze (@AtlantaBlaze) December 20, 2019
Leo Stouros: After playing all 18 games the last two seasons, Stouros has become a rock on the Swarm defense. Stouros' versatility and overall solid play defensively will be on display once again for the Swarm this season. Stouros played the first two games this season for a defense that looks to be one of the best in the NLL.
NEW YORK RIPTIDE
Tyson Gibson:Â The #1 overall selectionÂ in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft wasted no time making his impact felt, scoring the first goal in Riptide history. Gibson, an athletic, strong rightyÂ out of Robert Morris should be a focal point of the Riptide offense this season. Gibson was drafted 41st in the 2019 MLL Collegiate Draft by the Blaze.
Remember when Tyson Gibson scored the first goal in @newyorkriptide history? We do.
Catch Tyson and the rest of the Riptide back at it on Saturday at 10 PM ET as they take on the @nllwarriors.
Highlight presented by @StringKing. pic.twitter.com/DWciu56q1P
- NLL (@NLL) December 14, 2019
Alex Woodall: The 2019 MLL Rookie of the Year was picked up by the Riptide and eventually found his way onto the field in their second game of the season, winning 17 of 29 faceoffs. WoodallÂ should only improve as the season goes on and as he gets more comfortable with the close quarters of the indoor game. Woodall'sÂ 138 self faceoff wins this year in the MLL was 31 more than anyone else. His strength and frame should make him an excellent NLL faceoff man as well.
Liam Byrnes:Â The 2019 MLL Defensive Player of the Year has taken some time getting used to the indoor game, but has solidified his role as a starter in the NLL. Byrnes played 12 games last year for the Wings and played the opener for the Wings this year. After an award-winning outdoor season, Byrnes looks to have a breakout year this year indoors.
Tanner Thomson: A rookie out of Marquette, Thomson was added from the Player Pool in the middle of the 2019 season for the Blaze, appearing in two games. Thomson has a lethal shot, incredibly soft hands, and is excellent in the two-man game. These traits influenced the Rush's decision to select Thomson in the first round and 16th overall in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft. ThomsonÂ has yet to make his NLL debut.
Mark Matthews:Â Last, but certainly not least, is the three-time champion, 2018 MVP, 2015 Finals MVP, former #1 overall pick in 2012, andÂ alternate captain for the Rush. Matthews is quite simply one of the best players in NLL history. With 100+ points in the last five seasons, Matthews has been a consistent MVP candidate. At 6'5" and 230 pounds, he is almost unstoppable once he gets going downhill. His vision is among the elite, and his shot terrifies opposing goalies. The Rush have been in the playoffs every year since Matthews was drafted by the team in 2012. Matthews' ability to make incredible plays on a routine basis makes him someone you absolutely need to watch this winter.
Penalty Shot + Mark Matthews = ??for @saskrushlax pic.twitter.com/TJRZ92UWBY
- NLL (@NLL) December 15, 2019
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