The NLL has announced the finalists for the league’s major end-of-season awards and three Buffalo Bandits – forwards Dhane Smith and Kyle Buchanan, and goaltender Matt Vinc – have been nominated.
Smith has been named a finalist for the National Lacrosse League’s MVP Award. He ranked second in the NLL with 132 points, and his 96 assists broke the all-time single-season mark he set last year. His 36 goals are second only to New York’s Jeff Teat, who along with Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco, is also an MVP finalist.
Smith is a two-time MVP, having most recently won last season.
“I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that it can be not my night (to score) and I can do something else,” he said after defeating the Toronto Rock in Game 1 of the East Conference Final. Smith recorded eight assists in the 14-5 win.
Through three postseason games, Smith is tied for the scoring lead with fellow teammate Josh Byrne with 26 points (6+20).
Vinc has been named a finalist for Goaltender of the Year and is seeking to take home the award for the ninth time in his career. The veteran netminder led the NLL with 14 wins and 742 saves.
In the playoffs, Vinc leads all goaltenders this postseason with a 3-0 record to go along with a 7.07 GAA and .870 save percentage. He stopped a combined 85 shots during the Eastern Conference Final to help the Bandits make their third-straight NLL Finals appearance, including a 52-save performance in Game 1 of the series.
Buffalo will take on the winner of the West Conference Final between Colorado and Calgary in the NLL Finals next weekend.
“When he goes, we go,” Smith said. “He brings that veteran leadership that we need. He’s one of the only guys who has won a championship and we lean on him.”
Del Bianco and Toronto’s Nick Rose are also Goaltender of the Year finalists.
Buchanan has been named a finalist for the Sportsmanship Award and Teammate of the Year. He was the Bandits’ third-leading scorer behind Smith and Byrne, scoring 58 points (21+37) in 18 games. Buchanan tallied just two penalty minutes during the regular season.
In the playoffs, Buchanan has scored 12 points (4+8) in three playoff games.
Tom Schreiber (Toronto) and Lyle Thompson (Georgia) have also been nominated for the Sportsmanship Award. Dan Dawson (Toronto) and John LaFontaine (Albany) are the other finalists for Teammate of the Year.
The winners of each award will be announced next week.
Each NLL team had the opportunity to nominate and vote for each of the awards with the exception of Teammate of the Year, as each NLLPA Player Representative nominated a player from their team for this honor that was voted on by the NLLPA and its 15 Player Representatives.
Once nominations were finalized, each NLL team cast three ballots for each award by three members of its organization. Select media were eligible to vote for all awards except Teammate of the Year and Executive of the Year with the same voting system. Each ballot allowed voting members to select their top five choices for each award among all nominated persons.
The person that accumulated the most points will be announced as the winner while the top three are the finalists.