With the start of the National Lacrosse League season on the horizon, the Vancouver Warriors are primed from their training camp and ready to take on Panther City Lacrosse Club at Rogers Arena.
Vancouver head coach Curt Malawsky will make his coaching debut and is looking to make the most of home-floor advantage. He wants his team to be disciplined and consistent through a full 60 minutes.
The goaltending matchup sees Warriors’ veteran Aaron Bold up against 24-year-old Nick Damude who had a breakout season last year.
Panther City made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season and hope to build off that this year. Team captain Matt Hossack will lead Panther City into the box as a stalwart defender and one of six players on his team named to the Top 100 players list in LaxMag.com’s pre-season rankings. Hossack collected 228 loose balls in his previous two seasons with Panther City and has 50 caused turnovers.
The Fort Worth club has three forwards in the Top 100 – Johnathan Donville, Will Malcom and Callum Crawford.
Donville made his NLL debut last season with a whopping 90 points (23-67-90) and his 67 assists were the second-best rookie total in NLL history. A New Westminster native, Malcom followed up a breakout year in the NLL during the 2021-2022 season with a 96-point (35-61-96) performance last year. Crawford enters his 18th season in NLL, adding a veteran presence to a young, potent Panther City offence. Last season Crawford had 56 points (25-31-56).
Transition player Josh Medeiros enters his third season in Fort Worth and had 28 points (21-7-28) in his sophomore season. Through the regular season and playoffs last year, Panther City was 9-5 when Medeiros scored and 1-4 when he was held off the scoresheet.
Goalie Nick Damude finds himself among the Top 100 NLL players as well after he backstopped his team to 10 wins with a 10.31 goals-against average and .789 save percentage.
It will be a battle for supremacy between the pipes as Warriors’ goalie Aaron Bold is ranked as a Top-5 keeper in the league with NLL.com. He’s got the mental fortitude to battle through an incredible number of shots – last season he had four 40+ save games, including two 50+ save performances. A steady veteran, the team will be able to rely on him to keep the ship steady if the sea gets rough.
Vancouver bolstered its defensive group this year and they, in addition to Bold, will have the important task of thwarting Panther City’s offensive firepower.
Returnees Reid Bowering and Brett Mydske are joined by Matt Beers and Ryan Dilks. Bowering brings a strong presence on both ends of the floor, second last season in the NLL for blocked shots (22) and led the Warriors defencemen in scoring. Mydske, Beers and Dilks all play a physical game that will make it tough for the opposing offence.
Keegan Bal and Kevin Crowley are two names to watch for on Friday on the offensive side of the floor. New to the fold, Crowley played Senior A with Bal last season with the New Westminster Salmonbellies, thus the two are familiar with each other’s playing style. Last NLL season, Crowley had 46 points and Bal had a Warriors’ high 87.
Warriors’ Riley Loewen is another one to watch in this first game; he’s familiar with Malawsky’s systems, having played for him in Calgary from 2017-2019. Entering his tenth season in the NLL, he’s got the experience and playmaking ability to make everyone around him better too.
Game time at Rogers Arena is Friday, December 1st at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on TSN and can be streamed on ESPN+.