There were four games in the National Lacrosse League in Week 12 with only the Saskatchewan Rush having the weekend off and all four games were played on Friday, St. Patrick’s Day.
In Toronto, it was a battle of second-place teams as the Rock, second place in the East Division, hosted the Colorado Mammoth, the second place team in the West Division. The Mammoth were coming off their toughest weekend of the season but it didn’t show as they were a little bit better than the Rock in just about every facet of the game en route to a 14-11 victory. Callum Crawford and Stephen Keogh each had hat tricks for the Mammoth and goaltender Dillon Ward was unflappable as he stopped 44 of 55 shots.
In New England, the Black Wolves and Rochester Knighhawks had a great battle that went down to the wire as New England got the win, 12-11. You have to give props to Rochester’s Dan Dawson. Dawson, the No. 5 player all-time in career points who stepped up to fight tough guy Bill O’Brien of the Black Wolves and Dawson was the clear winner. I’m sure the Rochester coaching staff doesn’t want to see Dawson dropping the mitts too often, but it does send a message to the whole team when your leader is willing to step up and do some dirty work like Dawson did. The absence of Dawson in the second half hurt Rochester’s chances at winning the game.
In Georgia, the Swarm got a shot in the arm with the return of Randy Staats, Miles Thompson and Joel White, who was playing his first game of the season. Thompson scored 4 goals, Staats had 2 and Joel White picked up 15 loose balls as Georgia obliterated Calgary 17-8 two weeks after suffering a similar defeat in Calgary. The Swarm outshot Calgary 70-41, out loose-balled them 105-74 and only allowed 4 even strength goals.
And finally, in the late game in Vancouver, the Stealth had a 7-6 halftime lead before soiling the bed in second half. Buffalo scored the next 8 goals and it wasn’t until the last 5 minutes of the game before Vancouver went on a run that was too little and too late. The final score was Buffalo 15, Vancouver 11.
Let’s check out this week’s Power Rankings.
No. 1 (1 last week) Saskatchewan (7-3). The Rush had the weekend off but next week they host the Roughnecks on Friday and then travel to Colorado on Saturday.
No. 2 (2) Georgia (8-3). Whatever was ailing the Georgia Swarm the last few weeks was not a factor this weekend as they won their fifth home game (no losses) with an exclamation mark, defeating the Calgary Roughnecks 17-8. Getting Staats and Miles Thompson back in the lineup helps but the addition of defender Joel White could be huge for the Swarm. White has averaged 8 loose balls a game in his career and nearly doubled that on Saturday with 15. His defence and speed will surely make the Swarm a better team come playoff time. Next week the Swarm will host the Toronto Rock on Friday.
No. 3 (tie) (4) Colorado (7-6). Coming off a tough weekend (two losses) the Colorado Mammoth had a great rebound game as they defeated the Toronto Rock 14-11 at the ACC in Toronto. Like many of their wins this season, the Mammoth were unspectacular but very efficient in their game. The Mammoth took their first lead 4 minutes into the game and although the score was almost always within 1 or 2 goals, the Mammoth never allowed Toronto to take the lead back. Next week the Mammoth will get their third chance to try to defeat the Saskatchewan Rush as they host them in Denver Saturday night.
No. 3 (tie) (4) Toronto Rock (6-5). The Toronto Rock might be glad that they don’t play Colorado often because even though the Rock were not bad they still lost their 6th game against the Mammoth in 8 meetings. The Rock gave up a couple of avoidable transition goals to the Mammoth and if there was a rebound stat in lacrosse the Mammoth dominated Toronto leading to multiple possessions on offence and in one case directly to a goal. Next week will be a critical weekend for the Rock as they play in Georgia on Friday and then host Vancouver on Saturday.
No. 5 (5) New England (6-6). The New England Black Wolves are climbing the standings as they won their third straight game by defeating the Rochester Knighhawks 12-11 on Friday. Shawn Evans scored 3 goals and 5 assists for the Black Wolves while Kevin Buchanan had 4 goals and 2 assists. Next week, New England travels to Calgary to play the Roughnecks. It will be Shawn Evans’s first game back there since being traded from Calgary to New England. In their only meeting last season, the Roughnecks held Evans to 1 goal, no assists as Calgary won the game 9-8 in New England.
No. 6 (7) Buffalo (5-6). The Buffalo Bandits used a strong second half to defeat the Vancouver Stealth 15-11 in Vancouver on Friday. Ten different players scored goals for Buffalo and newcomer Pat Saunders had 3 goals for the Bandits in his third game since coming over in a trade with the New England Black Wolves. Next week, the Bandits will hope to knock the Rochester Knighthawks farther out of the playoff picture when they travel to Rochester on Saturday.
No. 7 (6) Vancouver (5-7). The Vancouver Stealth lost their fifth game at home (only one win) as the Buffalo Bandits defeated them 15-11. I must be 0-12 on my Vancouver picks this season because they have lost every time I have picked them to win and have shocked me with victories against Saskatchewan, Colorado (twice) and Calgary (twice) when I pick against them. Next week they will hope to get their first victory against an East Division opponent as they travel to Toronto to meet the Rock on Saturday.
No. 8 (9) Rochester (4-8). After losing 12-11 to New England on Friday, the Rochester Knighthawks might be the closest thing to a team eliminated from the playoffs. But before you write Rochester’s chances off you should know that they still have a chance to win the tie breaker against both Buffalo, whom they play next weekend. Although they can tie New England in their season series if they beat them in their fourth and last meeting the second tie breaking method is record against divisional opponents and so far New England is 6-4 while Rochester is 3-6. Next week’s game against the Bandits should have the intensity of a do or die playoff game.
No. 9 (8) Calgary (4-8). Last week I said that Calgary lacks consistency this season. It’s probably more accurate to say they are consistently bad with the exceptional great performance. Georgia erased all memories of Calgary’s 18-11 win against the Swarm two weeks ago by stomping on the Roughnecks 17-8 and dominating in every aspect of the game. Surprisingly, the Roughnecks still have a chance at making the playoffs but they have some work to do to jump ahead of the Vancouver Stealth, who currently hold the tiebreaker. Next week, Calgary plays in Saskatchewan on Friday and then host Shawn Evans and the Black Wolves on Saturday.