3/4/2019 3:00:00 PM / Nick Konotopskyj
When people think of the 2018-19 Bandits, Dhane Smith, Matt Vinc, Shawn Evans or Steve Priolo might be the first names that come to mind. They’re the veteran players who have established themselves as household names in the NLL.
In a year where Buffalo’s offense is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the league in goals, goals per game and goal differential, it’s no surprise to see that the Bandits are 9-2 and in first place in the NLL and having success playing an overall team game.
However, there’s one player in particular who has started to come onto the scene this year and is now a premier scorer in the NLL.
His name is Thomas Hoggarth and he’s currently tied with Evans for second on the team in goals (23) and is fourth on the team in points with 39. He has been an offensive force for the Bandits, especially in the absence of Josh Byrne due to injury.
This is Hoggarth’s fourth year pro and his first full season in Buffalo. He was drafted Vancouver in 2015 and spent nearly two-and-a-half years in that organization before being traded to Buffalo last February.
Prior to this year, Hoggarth’s career highs for goals and points in a season was five and seven, respectively, both coming in his rookie season. He explained that there are plenty of reasons for his huge jump in scoring this year, but above all else, it’s the team’s faith in his offensive ability.
“I’m playing straight offense for really the first time in my career,” he said. “Getting to play with some really talented guys has allowed me to get some great chances around the net and that has really helped my game.
“In Vancouver, they didn’t really want me to play much offense so that’s why my scoring was down. The nice thing is Buffalo wants me to play offense and help our guys out.”
Hoggarth grew up in Lakeview, Ontario, which is roughly an hour-and-a-half away from Buffalo. He started playing both lacrosse and hockey at the age of 5 and he said that playing both sports was extremely beneficial to his development.
While Hoggarth was in the playoffs with Vancouver in 2017-18, he hasn’t seen a home playoff game in Banditland. He’s looking forward to experiencing that this season as the Bandits are currently on track to not only host a playoff game, but have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. It’s simply not enough just to make the playoffs because this year’s Bandits squad has much bigger expectations for this year.
“We’re a real strong team this year in all facets,” Hoggarth said. “We have a good offense, good defense and good goalie so it’s pretty hard to stop us when we’re rolling.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re a hard team to stop right now and we just need to stick to the game plan. It’s always great to beat the teams that are close to you in the standings because it shows that we’re a good team and that we can beat the top teams in this league.”