Honor Roll: Opening Weekend

April 29, 2024
By Evan Lepler

Jeff Babbitt, Boston Glory

It wasn’t an overwhelming, stereotypically dominant debut, but Jeff Babbitt still made an indelible first impression as a high-profile addition for the Boston Glory. The reigning UFA MVP recorded two blocks during his very first point, and Montreal’s opening three break chances were all thwarted by Babbitt’s prominent presence. While it’s never ideal when a primary O-line player has reason to produce five blocks, it’s still interesting to note that Friday’s effort featured the most Babbitt blocks in a single game since July of 2018, when he had six in the infamous monsoon playoff game in DC. 

Tobe Decraene, Montreal Royal

It’s pretty unusual to include someone on the Honor Roll after a two-loss weekend, but an exception must be made for the 20-year-old Belgian who looked completely comfortable in his professional ultimate debut. Tobe Decraene finished his first UFA road trip with a whopping 10 assists, five goals, five blocks, and over 1,200 total yards in two tight games against a pair of the league’s top 10 teams. Beyond the numbers, he authored several highlights that suggest he could become a regular in the league’s weekly Top 10. What a blessing for the Royal fans, following a winless 2023 season, to get a guy like Decraene to root for in ’24. Montreal’s gonna win some games at home over the next few months, and they just might snap their long losing streak in Toronto on May 11.

Jordan Kerr, Salt Lake Shred

A super steady performance in Saturday’s Super Series premiere earns Jordan Kerr a spot among the opening weekend’s sensational seven. The 26-year-old Shred star tallied four assists, two goals, and a block in Salt Lake’s impressive 23-20 home win over DC, a victory that indicates the gap between the East and West’s best has narrowed a bit in 2024. Surrounded by explosive athletes, Kerr continues to serve as a polished anchor to Salt Lake’s attack in his third season with the team. He’s certainly capable of making the huge play, but more importantly, he can be counted on for making the right play over and over again.

Allan Laviolette, Carolina Flyers

In his first appearance for the Flyers since the 2021 championship game, Allan Laviolette found his old form quickly in Carolina’s surprising and remarkable rout over rival Atlanta. Across 21 O-points against a Hustle team that he used to play for, the almost 35-year-old Laviolette cashed in six assists, two goals, and one block, completing 35 of his 36 throws in the Flyers’ eight-goal victory. After a couple hiccups in the opening six minutes, it turned into a masterfully efficient evening for the Carolina offense, as Laviolette and company went unbroken from the midway point of the first quarter until the waning moments of the fourth, when Atlanta’s third and final break of the night was utterly meaningless, cutting the Flyers’ comfortable lead to seven. 

Ben Lewis, Houston Havoc

The most eye-popping individual single-game statistics from Week 1 belonged to Ben Lewis, whose plus-14 in his 84th career UFA contest was three better than the top performance from his previous 83 games. Furthermore, his 554 receiving yards were more than any other player produced in a game this past weekend. For perspective, Austin’s Evan Swiatek led the league with 4,193 receiving yards last year, which averages out to about 280 a game, or right around half of what Lewis did on Saturday against Dallas. Sure, it’s just one game, but with nine goals, four assists, three blocks, and nearly 700 total yards, it might be awhile before we see another stat-line like that this season. 

Zeppelin Raunig, Seattle Cascades

We’ve already witnessed glimpses of greatness from Zeppelin Raunig over the past couple seasons, but Saturday’s sizzling performance felt different. For starters, his team won by double digits, something that had happened only once in Raunig’s first 18 UFA appearances as a member of the Cascades. More significant were the consistent athletic feats from the now 21-year-old Seattle standout, laying out for scores and winning battles in the air. Raunig finished the ’24 season opener with seven goals, one assist, one block, and no turns, a plus-nine afternoon that clearly showcased his abilities as a potentially unstoppable playmaker.  

Will Selfridge, Salt Lake Shred (Pictured)

Like Seattle, Salt Lake also has a slew of young stars, though arguably none with a higher ceiling than Will Selfridge. The 20-year-old Shred produced career-highs of six goals and 433 receiving yards on Saturday against the Breeze, both of which are numbers that he could easily surpass in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Dynamic, talented, and oozing with confidence, Selfridge has all the tools to perhaps become an MVP of this league one day, and his continued growth puts his team in a great spot to try and go one step further than a year ago.