The Toronto Rock had won 3 of their last 4 games but were facing the defending champion Saskatchewan Rush in back-to-back games. Although the Rock played some of their best lacrosse, they came out of the weekend empty handed after an 11-9 loss on Friday and 13-8 loss on Saturday. Although not mathematically eliminated, the Toronto Rock would likely have to run the table in their last 6 games for even a chance to make the playoffs.
New England was facing a similar but not so desperate situation coming into the weekend. It had lost two straight games, including a 17-13 loss to the Rochester Knighthawks, who they were facing in a home-and-home weekend series. Things could not have gone better for the Black Wolves as they swept the Knighthawks by scores of 16-13 and 10-8. As of now, the Black Wolves are solidly in second place right on the heels of the first-place Buffalo Bandits.
In other games this weekend, Dhane Smith scored 12 points for the Buffalo Bandits as they handled a short-staffed Vancouver Stealth squad by a score of 17-10. The Calgary Roughnecks continued their surge up the standings by defeating the Georgia Swarm 16-12 on Friday until a John Grant overtime goal in Colorado on Saturday prevented the Roughnecks from having a perfect weekend.
It looks as though the playoff teams are solidifying their spots but we could still get some surprises with another 5 weeks left in the regular season.
Let’s check out the Power Rankings.
1. (1) Colorado (9-3). The Mammoth are 6-0 at home this season after defeating the Calgary Roughnecks 13-12 in OT. After being shut out last weekend, Adam Jones was back on track with 3 goals and 3 assists. John Grant scored 4 goals and Callum Crawford picked up 6 assists. What this game does show us is how important first place is in the west. Neither Colorado nor Saskatchewan want to face Calgary in a “one and done” series. The Mammoth play in New England next Saturday.
2 (2). Buffalo (7-4). The Buffalo Bandits continue to pump in the goals as they scored 17 against the Vancouver Stealth and won their fourth in a row. Dhane Smith now has an incredible 103 points in just 12 games. He needs just 28 points in his last 6 games to break Shawn Evans’ record of 130 points in a season. It will also be interesting to see if he can hit 115 points in 14 games. That was the record created by John Tavares in 2001 in a 14-game season until John Grant scored 116 points in 2012 (playing only 14 games in a 16 game season). Buffalo plays in Georgia next Saturday. The Swarm was the last team to defeat Buffalo.
3 (3). Saskatchewan (7-3). The Saskatchewan Rush swept the Toronto Rock on the weekend to put themselves in a first-place tie with the Colorado Mammoth. On Friday, Curtis Knight broke a 9-9 tie with 26 seconds remaining in the game (the Rush scored an empty netter to make it 11-9). On Saturday the Rush were down 6-4 early in the second half when they went on an 8-goal run to an eventual 13-8 victory. Nine different players scored for the Rush on Saturday and no one scored more than 2 goals. The Rush host Calgary next Saturday.
4. (5). New England (7-4). The Black Wolves had a perfect weekend, sweeping the Rochester Knighthawks in a battle for second place by scores of 16-13 and 10-8 on Saturday. Shawn Evans put in 11 points on Friday and 7 on Saturday while Kevin Crowley had a goal and nine assists on Friday and 5 points on Saturday. The Black Wolves host the Colorado Mammoth next Saturday.
5. (6) Calgary (6-8). Even though they did not get the sweep they were looking for, the Calgary Roughnecks are continuing to prove they are one of the hottest teams in the NLL and their recent play has put even greater emphasis on the importance of first place in the west division because no one wants to play Calgary in the first round. Calgary defeated Georgia 16-12 on Friday after a late 7-goal run but they lost to Colorado 13-12 in overtime on Saturday. The overtime loss was Calgary’s fourth overtime loss of the season. Calgary plays in Saskatchewan next Saturday.
6. (4). Rochester (6-7). Rochester’s up and down season is continuing as it was swept by the New England Black Wolves over the weekend. Although the Knighthawks have played up to their championship calibre at times this season, they have not been able to string more than two straight wins all season. Having said that, they are probably a safe distance ahead of the Toronto Rock for the last playoff spot. Rochester has next weekend off but will play in Buffalo on Saturday, April 9.
7. (7). Georgia (4-8). The Georgia Swarm lost their fourth straight game as they were defeated by the Calgary Roughnecks by a score 16-12. Next week the Swarm will host the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday.
8. (8) Toronto Rock (3-9). The Toronto Rock played two good lacrosse games against the Saskatchewan Rush but came up empty-handed losing 11-9 and 13-8. The Rock were playing short-staffed in both games after Scott Johnson went down early on Friday as did Brett Hickey on Saturday. These two losses may have sealed Toronto’s fate as a non-playoff team but the reality is that it was the first 6 games of the season that put this team out of the playoffs. If the Toronto Rock had started the season with the same determination they have shown of late they would have probably had at least 4 wins in their first 6 games. Toronto travels to Vancouver next Saturday to play the Stealth.
9. (9) Vancouver (3-9). The Vancouver Stealth were still without Logan Schuss and Garret Billings as they lost their fifth in a row to the Buffalo Bandits by a score of 17-10. It looks very likely that the Stealth will miss the playoffs once again. Next week the Stealth will host the Toronto Rock.