Team capsules

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

WEST DIVISION

* CALGARY ROUGHNECKS

HOME -- Pengrowth Saddledome (17,448).

HEAD COACH -- Chris Hall.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- F Tracey Kelusky, D Taylor Wray, F Lewis Ratcliff.

LAST YEAR -- 10-6, first in the West; lost 19-15 to Arizona in the West semifinal.

PROJECTED FINISH -- First in the West.

QUICK STICKS -- Offence shouldn't be a problem this year. F Tracey Kelusky set a franchise mark last year with 45 goals while F Lewis Ratcliff set new marks for assists (50) and points (86) in a season. Toss in Kaleb Toth, Jason Wulder, Kyle Goundrey, Kevin Dostie and rookie Callum Crawford and you have an explosive attack that should fill the net ... Calgary has one of the deepest, most talented rosters in the league. The team has a defence that's big on size, speed and skill. The return of defenders Grant Hamilton (sat out last season due to work commitment) and Rob Kirkby (traded to Arizona before being re-acquired) along with Andy Ogilvie, Ryan McNish and Devan Wray (who all suffered season-ending knee injuries last season) gives bench boss Hall the problem every coach would love: Who to play and who to sit?

* ARIZONA STING

HOME -- Glendale Arena (17,653).

HEAD COACH -- Bob Hamley.

LAST YEAR -- 9-7, second in the West; lost 19-13 to Toronto in championship game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- F Dan Dawson, F Craig Conn, F Pat Maddalena.

PROJECTED FINISH -- Second in West.

QUICK STICKS -- Many expected F Dan Dawson to have a breakout season last year and the lanky 6-ft. 5-in. Oakville, Ont., product didn't disappoint earning his first all-star nod. The righty had a stellar season, scoring 48 times to finish second in the goal race, one behind Rochester's John Grant Jr. Most impressive, though, was his outstanding .306 shooting percentage ... The Sting, expected to challenge Calgary for the West title this year, opened the season with a little retribution by beating the Toronto Rock 10-9 in overtime at the ACC Jan. 7. Back in May, the Rock hammered the Sting 19-13 as Toronto won its fifth NLL championship.

* COLORADO MAMMOTH

HOME -- Pepsi Center (18,007).

HEAD COACH -- Gary Gait.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- F Gavin Prout, G Gee Nash, D Jay Jalbert.

LAST YEAR -- 8-8, third in the West; lost 16-13 to Arizona in West semifinal.

PROJECTED FINISH -- Tied for third in the West.

QUICK STICKS -- The story of last year for the Mammoth -- outside of a so-so regular season and first-round playoff exit -- was Gary Gait's farewell tour. The game's all-time leading scorer (who amassed 662 goals and 551 assists for 1,213 points in 196 games) has hung up his stick and replaces Jamie Batley behind Colorado's bench. Gait has already served as a player/coach for the MLL's Baltimore Bayhawks with success but still faces much of the same pressure heaped on Wayne Gretzky this season ... The Mammoth overhauled its lineup in the off-season releasing a handful of players, notably former first-overall pick Mark Miyashita, and adding some notable names in F Dan Carey and former Roughnecks D Rich Catton and F Chris Gill.

* SAN JOSE STEALTH

HOME -- HP Pavilion (17,496).

HEAD COACH -- Walt Christianson.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- G Anthony Cosmo, F Ryan Boyle, D Jim Moss.

LAST YEAR -- 4-12, fifth and last in the West; missed playoffs.

PROJECTED FINISH -- Tied for third in the West.

QUICK STICKS -- If anything, this team will be a motivated bunch in '06 after winning its opener 10-9 in OT against the Edmonton Rush. The Stealth was expected to contend for the West division title last year but instead finished dead last despite having a solid core of veterans ... Gary Rosyski and sophomore Ryan Boyle will shoulder much of the offensive load for the club. Boyle -- a former attackman at Princeton -- made the transition to indoor ball seemlessly last season and was named rookie of the year ... Jim Moss and Cam Woods give the Stealth one of the best -- if not the best -- defensive duos in the league.

* PORTLAND LUMBERJAX

HOME -- Rose Garden (20,000-plus).

HEAD COACH -- Derek Keenan.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- F Ted Dowling, F Ryan Powell, D Brodie Merrill.

LAST YEAR -- Expansion team.

PROJECTED FINISH -- Fourth in the West.

QUICK STICKS -- The Jax resemble the defunct Anaheim Storm, right from coach Derek Keenan on down. Portland picked up many Anaheim players in the Storm dispersal draft this summer (including F Ryan Powell, F Peter Morgan, D Adam Bysouth and D Damien Davis) and augmented that with some solid off-season acquisitions, most notably free-agent F Ted Dowling ... The player everyone will be watching this season is D Brodie Merrill. The 2005 first-overall pick is one of the most-hyped No. 1s in league history. The former Georgetown All-American from Ornageville, Ont., has already played a summer of professional outdoor lacrosse, winning the MLL championship this year with the Baltimore Bayhawks.

* EDMONTON RUSH

HOME -- Rexall Place (16,389).

HEAD COACH -- Paul Day.

LAST YEAR -- Relocated dormant Montreal Express franchise.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- D Andrew Turner, F Kerry Susheski, F Jamey Bowen.

PROJECTED FINISH -- Fifth in the West.

QUICK STICKS -- There's one universal truth in sports: It's never fun being an expansion club. Former Rochester bench boss Paul Day has put together a solid roster for a first-year club but the Rush will be in tough this season. Edmonton natives Jamey Bowen and Kevin Howard will lead the offence which, while talented, lacks a go-to superstar. The team's backend is anchored by last year's defender of the year Andrew Turner. Youngsters Rory Glaves and Cam Bergman could be future stars in the league but overall, Edmonton's defence is young and inexperienced ... The Rush gave San Jose a good run in the team's season opener Jan. 6, falling 10-9 in overtime before more than 11,000 fans at Rexall Place.

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EAST DIVISION

* TORONTO ROCK

HOME -- Air Canada Centre (18,819).

HEAD COACH -- Terry Sanderson.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- F Colin Doyle, F Blaine Manning, G Bob Watson.

LAST YEAR -- 12-4, first in the East; beat Arizona 19-13 in championship game.

PROJECTED FINISH -- First in the East.

QUICK STICKS -- The modern-day NLL dynasty won its fifth championship in six years last season and made history by having three players -- forwards Colin Doyle, Josh Sanderson and Blaine Manning -- all top the 100-point barrier. It was the first time two or more players from one team eclipsed that mark. Doyle led the league in scoring with 111 points and was named the MVP of the regular season and the Champion's Cup final ... G Bob Watson finished with the league's fourth-best GAA last season (11.78) and continues to be the most consistent goaltender in the league ... Former Roughnecks D Brad MacDonald -- traded to the Rock in the off-season -- will play a big role for the club this year ... The Rock dropped its season-opener against the Arizona Sting Jan. 7 14-13 in OT. Toronto trailed 9-3 at half.

* BUFFALO BANDITS

HOME -- HSBC Arena (18,690).

HEAD COACH -- Darris Kilgour.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- F John Tavares, D Mark Steenhuis, F Delby Powless.

LAST YEAR -- 11-5, second in the East; lost to Rochester 19-14 in East semifinal.

PROJECTED FINISH -- Second in the East.

QUICK STICKS -- You can't mention the Bandits without talking about captain John Tavares. Considered by some as the best player in the history of the game, the Toronto-born lefty has 570 goals and 604 assists in 1,174 games for an incredible average of 6.42 points a game. The perennial all-star will lead a potent Bandits attack featuring sophomore Delby Powless, Dan Teat, A.J. Shannon and St. Catherines, Ont., product Mark Steenhuis, who continues to be one of the best two-way players in the NLL ... Buffalo picked up a big stick in the off-season by acquiring former Arizona Sting forward Cory Bomberry. The Bandits powerplay should be buoyed by Bomberry, the man with the hardest shot in the league which routinely tops 110 m.p.h.

* PHILADELPHIA WINGS

HOME -- Wachovia Center (19,523).

HEAD COACH -- Lindsay Sanderson.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- G Matt Roik, F Dan Marohl, F Jeff Ratcliffe.

LAST YEAR -- 6-10, fourth in the East; missed playoffs.

PROJECTED FINISH -- Third in the East.

QUICK STICKS -- Once the league's most storied franchise, the Wings have struggled the last few seasons but look ready to challenge for supremacy in the East once again. Despite the retirement of perennial all-star forward Tom Marechek -- the club's all-time leading scorer -- Philly floors an impressive roster this season. Forwards Dan Marohl, Jake Bergey and Jeff Ratcliffe will be given the task of replacing Marechek's offensive production and on defence, the addition of free-agent Glenn Clark from Toronto strengthens an already solid backend, anchored by youngster Thomas Hajek ... The Wings have come out of the gate flying this season, opening with two straight wins over Colorado and Minnesota.

* ROCHESTER KNIGHTHAWKS

HOME -- Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial (10,000).

HEAD COACH -- Ed Comeau.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- F John Grant Jr., F Shawn Williams, G Pat O'Toole.

LAST YEAR -- 10-6, third in the East; lost to Toronto 12-10 in East final.

PROJECTED FINISH -- Fourth in the East.

QUICK STICKS -- The Knighthawks suffered some big losses to its defence in the off-season. The team traded away defensive player of the year Andrew Turner to the expansion Edmonton Rush to fulfil his wish to play out west. His shoes will be tough to fill and the team could face some big struggles containing opposing offences ... Superstar John Grant Jr. -- who scored six goals in a season-opening loss to the Colorado Mammoth Jan. 7 -- is the man to watch on offence for the K-Hawks. Last season, Grant led all league goal scorers with 49 and tied for second in points with 105 ... Rochester expects big things from highly touted rookie F Shawn Evans, the second-overall pick in the 2005 draft.

* MINNESOTA SWARM

HOME -- Xcel Energy Center (18,064).

HEAD COACH -- Adam Mueller.

PLAYERS TO WATCH -- F Kasey Biernes, F Ryan Ward, D Darryl Gibson.

LAST YEAR -- 5-11, fifth and last in the East; missed playoffs.

PROJECTED FINISH -- Fifth in the East.

QUICK STICKS -- The Swarm improved last season but will be hard pressed to beat out any of the established East teams for a post-season berth. The Swarm did address some of its shortcomings in the off-season by adding veteran D Darryl Gibson to bolster its backend and F Kasey Biernes to give the club some much-needed additional scoring punch ... F Ryan Ward -- who was acquired early last season from Philadelphia -- led the club in scoring last season with 24 goals and 27 assists. The young Victoria, B.C., product is expected to have a breakout season.


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