As the New York Riptide continue to prepare for their inaugural National Lacrosse League season, their first training camp continued this past weekend in Buffalo with a couple of practices as well as the first scrimmage of the pre-season. On Saturday night, the Riptide knocked off the NLL’s other expansion team the Rochester Knighthawks 15-13 at KeyBank Center.
During the first weekend of camp, the Riptide practiced and scrimmaged against themselves so this was the first time that they were able to compete against players in a different uniform.
“It was just good to get out and battle with another team,” said Riptide General Manager and Head Coach Regy Thorpe. “We switched some guys in and out of the lineup each half. We thought it was a good positive step in the right direction and a good step forward for us.”
The Riptide fell behind 5-2 after the first quarter but then outscored the Knighthawks 7-0 in the second quarter to take a 9-5 lead at halftime. Rochester battled to get back in the game, but the Riptide held on to win by two goals as the competition continued for the final few spots on the opening night roster.
“The guys battled,” said Thorpe. “They were out there competing. We weren’t really too concerned about the overall score but just our compete level.”
There were a number of players that stood out for the Riptide in the scrimmage including third round draft pick Travis Longboat. The forward from the Six Nations Arrows junior team scored a pair of goals to go along with four assists for a team-high six points on the night. Having played for assistant coach Marshall Abrams with Six Nations, Longboat is very familiar with the Riptide’s offensive system.
“He’s just been competing,” said Thorpe. “He’s not a very big guy but he certainly works hard to get to the middle of the floor and makes the most of his opportunities there so we’re extremely happy with Travis. He knows the system so he’s certainly comfortable with running our offensive system. We’re really excited about his game but also where it can go.”
Veteran forward Zach Herreweyers, who played the past two seasons with the Buffalo Bandits, had a goal and four assists for five points while Tyler Digby, a forward selected by the Riptide in the expansion draft from the New England Black Wolves, dished out four assists.
Tyson Gibson, the first overall pick in the NLL Entry Draft, had two goals and an assist for three points in his first NLL pre-season game.
“Tyson has been working hard,” said Thorpe. “We’re excited about him and his future and I think he’s only going to get better week in and week out. He’s a very humble kid and a very hard-working kid. He’s meshing really well with our other players.”
The Riptide continue training camp this weekend at the Philadelphia Wing’s practice facility in New Jersey. On Friday night, the Riptide will go through a practice and then on Saturday they’ll have a shootaround before a full pre-season scrimmage against the New England Black Wolves. And then on Sunday, the Riptide will face the Philadelphia Wings in a practice scrimmage format with some of the focus on the power play and shorthanded situations.
After facing another expansion team last week, the Riptide will step up in competition this week against a pair of divisional opponents that they will certainly get to know during the course of the season. It’s another measuring stick opportunity for the Riptide against two existing NLL teams in the Black Wolves and the Wings that will give the staff a better idea of where the team is just weeks before the start of the season.
“We’re going to really measure where we’re at this weekend,” said Thorpe. “New England is a playoff team from last year. They were a few goals away from getting out of Buffalo with a win to move on in the playoffs. We’re excited to compete with them and see where we’re at and how far we have to go. With the Philadelphia Wings, they’re a second-year team and a couple of goals away from making the playoffs themselves.”
The Riptide rosters currently sits at 27 players so there are still moves to be made before the season opener on Saturday, December 7th on the road against the Halifax Thunderbirds. The coaching staff will evaluate what they see this weekend and then monitor the waiver wire to see what players that are released by other teams could be a fit for the Riptide as the deadline approaches to set the 25-man opening night roster.