Injury Report: Nakeie Montgomery Listed as Doubtful for Quarterfinals
By Jerome Taylor | Aug 31, 2023
As the Redwoods transition from the regular season, it appears they’ll be starting their playoff run without Nakeie Montgomery, who exited the game with an injury in the first quarter of their regular season finale against Atlas.
Montgomery was knocked out of the game after taking a big hit from Tucker Durkin at the end of the first quarter, and he’s currently listed as doubtful on the league’s injury report.
Throughout the season, Montgomery has taken wings on faceoffs, played SSDM, and over the past few weeks, he was starting to provide the Redwoods with offensive production.
In the final two weeks, he scored three goals (1G, 2T), which is why his injury against Atlas was so unfortunate; he was just coming into his own.
As the Redwoods head into their matchup against Chaos, everyone will take on some additional responsibility to overcome Montgomery’s absence. Two players, in particular, will be crucial if the 'Woods aim to triumph over Blaze Riordan and company: Jules Heningburg and Brian Tevlin.
Montgomery wasn’t lighting up the scoreboard throughout the season. Most of his impact came through his versatility. But, as I mentioned, he was just starting to come on as a scorer, and that’s where Jules Heningburg will have to take on some additional responsibility.
Heningburg has scored four goals in the last four games, and this season, his two best games have come against Chaos. In their first matchup, he showed off his playmaking with two assists and a goal, then in Baltimore three weeks later, he scored twice.
Heningburg’s ability to dodge off an invert is well known, but if Montgomery’s out of the lineup, the pressure he can put on a defense from up top will be more critical.
Considering the ‘Woods could be missing Montgomery’s ability to pop the clutch. Heningburg will have to use his speed and agility to blow by defenders, whether there’s a pole or a short stick on him, just like he did in the previous matchup against Chaos.
There might not be anyone in the league with Montgomery's straight-line speed. Still, Heningburg’s feet can wreak just as much havoc on opposing defenses, and he’ll have to use that agility to up his scoring output when goals are going to come at a premium.
Montgomery’s versatility has been weaponized all season as the league adjusted to a new shot clock. His ability to stay on the field as the ball crossed either side of the timeline has been a luxury. Brian Tevlin possesses just as much versatility, albeit in a different fashion.
When the Redwoods drafted Tevlin, his versatility was the biggest plus on his scouting report, and he’s been showing it off late into his rookie season. Against Atlas, Tevlin took the wing on 10 of the 22 faceoffs, and throughout the season, the ‘Woods showed their confidence in him with the ball in his stick.
On offense, Tevlin’s scored a goal in two of the season's final three games. But where he’s made the most significant impact is on the defensive side of the ball.
His seven caused turnovers are third among SSDMs this season, and if his instincts allow him to pluck the ball out of the air against Chaos as he did against Atlas, the Redwoods will have more opportunities to put the ball past the best goalie in the world.
With Montgomery's availability uncertain, winning the team’s first championship becomes even more daunting. However, if Tevlin, Heningburg, and the rest of the 'Woods step up, overcoming Chaos in Boston on Labor Day is definitely within reach.