MLL Preview: Atlanta Blaze





   First and foremost we need to recognize that the Atlanta Blaze are going to be entering 2018 with a new head coach.
This coaching change was very unexpected and touched the entire lacrosse community. Coach Dave Huntley suddenly passed away in December of 2017. He was a great ambassador for the game of lacrosse and is missed very much by many. The new head coach of the Atlanta Blaze is Liam Banks. Liam is one of the head guys over at LB3 Thunder Lacrosse and he has been a strong advocate for lacrosse and pro lacrosse in Georgia. Here is Coach Liam Bank's Bio from atlantablaze.com
Coach Banks currently serves as a Thunder LB3 Partner and President of Lacrosse Operations. Liam was the original promoter of the first professional lacrosse game in Georgia in 2013 and was active in bringing the Major League Lacrosse Championships to Atlanta in 2014 and 2015.
As a collegiate player, Banks was a two-time All-American at Syracuse and helped lead the Orange to four consecutive Final Four appearances including three Finals appearances, and a National Championship and MVP in 2000. In international competition, Banks played for the Under 19 USA World Team in 1999 and was named to the All-World Team and led Team USA to the gold medal. Banks continued his lacrosse in the Major League Lacrosse for five seasons. During his five years in the league he was a five-time Bud Light Game MVP and ranked in the Top 10 in scoring four of five years. Recently Coach Banks was inducted into the Long Island Hall of Fame for the Class of 2018.

   The Blaze finished last season with a 6-8 record as they missed the playoffs again in only their second season. The Blaze have made some off season moves in which they have hopefully put together a pretty strong team. It seems that Kevin Rice is the guy that they want to build around, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Atlanta made some big moves in the off season and that includes the attack position. In the Supplemental Draft the Blaze got Dylan Donahue, M/A Jack Bruckner, and Sam Llinares. They also picked up Matt Gibson and Tommy Palasek in player movement. This attack unit should be pretty good this year with all this talent that they have now.
   At the midfield position the Blaze have guys like Deemer Class, Matt Mackrides, and Brian Sherlock back. Also, they picked up Jermey Noble among others in the supplemental draft. Noble won't be available until after the NLL season, but he is a big addition to this midfield unit. The defense looks to be good this year as well. Guys like Graeme Hossack and Callum Robinson are back and should contribute heavily, but they also got some guys during the off season. Graeme Hossack will also not be available until after the NLL season. One of the biggest pick ups they got was Jason Noble in the supplementary draft. Also, they got guys like Colin Masa in the supplemental draft too. Also, Scott Ratliff will be another great guy for them. Ratliff, a LSM, has been one of the key guys for this team since it's inception.
   In the goal Adam Ghitleman will be their guy again this season. Jake Withers will be their man at the faceoff dot again as he had a great rookie season. He will be another guy that will miss some time due to the NLL season. I think the Blaze are headed in the right direction and that they have the potential to reach the playoffs this season.


Collegiate Draft

  This portion will be updated after the draft which will be held pf 4/18 at US Lacrosse HQ in Sparks, MD.


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