The Roughnecks stayed put in the 4th spot after seven weeks of play in the NLL (Photo: Candice Ward)
There were 4 games in the National Lacrosse League this weekend, but the Buffalo Bandits had the weekend off.
On Saturday, the Georgia Swarm and the New England Black Wolves continued what has become a nice little rivalry since the two teams have settled in new homes. In a game full of momentum swings, it was the Georgia Swarm’s 4-goal run (in the last 5 minutes) that nullified New England’s 5-goal run just prior to that. That gave Georgia a 17-15 victory and the first win for Swarm goaltender Brodie MacDonald, who came in to replace Mike Poulin when the score was 6-2 for New England.
It’s great that I can flip back and forth between two games on NLLTV but my “flip” timing was terrible. Since the Rochester vs. Saskatchewan game started a little later than the Georgia game and the score was 8-7 Rochester at half, I figured I’d focus on the game in Georgia for the second half and jump back to Rochester for a great ending. When New England scored its fifth straight goal to take a two goal lead with just over 4 minutes remaining, I checked out the Rochester game to find that Saskatchewan had scored 10 in a row to take a 17-9 lead. Even more surprising was that when I jumped back to Georgia I found out that Georgia had scored 4 goals, including 3 in 36 seconds. Wild momentum swings is one of the things I like most about lacrosse but it makes it just about impossible to enjoy two games at once.
It sure looks like the Saskatchewan Rush are back in form after they won their fourth straight game by a final score of 21-12. Robert Church had 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) and Mark Matthews had 4 and 6 for 10 points.
On Sunday there were two games played. In Calgary, the Toronto Rock continue to impress as they shut down the Roughnecks offence en route to an 11-7 victory. And finally the late game – and I really mean late as it was 10 p.m. Eastern time Sunday night – the Colorado Mammoth defeated the Vancouver Stealth 10-9 in OT.
Let’s get right to the Power Rankings.
No. 1 (1 last week) Georgia (5-1). Even though I picked Georgia to win this game I must admit that I while I was watching this game I was pretty sure that New England was going to take it. Coach Eddie Comeau must be happy that Brodie MacDonald played so well in relief of Mike Poulin. This game went back and forth before three straight goals by Jordan Hall late in the fourth gave Georgia the final lead. As well as Georgia has played this season, its next opponent, the Toronto Rock are nipping at their heels. Next week these two teams will play for first place in the East Division.
No. 2 (2) Toronto Rock (4-1). The Toronto Rock played an excellent road game in Calgary as they held everyone on the Roughnecks not named Curtis Dickson to just two goals. Nick Rose was outstanding as he stopped 40 of 47 shots and rookie Tom Schreiber continued his fine play as he scored 3 goals and 3 assists for the Rock. Fellow rookies Kieran McArdle and Latrell Harris scored 2 and 1 goal each as the Toronto Rock seems to be taking a page from the Toronto Maple Leafs with their huge contributions from their young talent. Next week, Toronto plays the first-place Georgia Swarm on Friday before traveling to Rochester on Saturday.
No. 3 (3) Saskatchewan (4-2). Saskatchewan used a 10-goal run in the second half to break open a close game in Rochester. The final score was 21-12 for the defending champs, who have now won 4 straight games after losing their first two games of the season. Next week, Saskatchewan is back home to meet the Colorado Mammoth for the first of four games this season.
No. 4 (4) Calgary (3-3). The Calgary Roughnecks lost their second straight game as they ran into a red-hot Nick Rose of the Toronto Rock. Calgary was down 10-4 in the fourth quarter before Curtis Dickson scored 3 of his five goals – including one of the best goals of the season - to give the Roughnecks some late life in this game. However, Bill Hostrawser’s empty net goal ended Calgary’s hopes of a late comeback. Next week, Calgary hosts the Vancouver Stealth.
No. 5 (5) Colorado (4-3). The Colorado Mammoth played another gutsy game as they defeated the Vancouver Stealth 10-9 in OT without John Grant Jr, Jeremy Noble and Callum Crawford. Rookie Brent Adams scored his first three goals of the season including the OT winner. Next week, the Mammoth travel to Saskatchewan to play the defending champs.
No. 6 (6) Rochester (2-4). Rochester possibly played its best lacrosse of the season for the first half against Saskatchewan as it led, 8-7. Unfortunately, it might have played its worst lacrosse of the season in the second half as it allowed 10 straight goals on its way to a 21-12 loss. Next week, the Knighthawks play the Toronto Rock at home on Saturday and then travel to Georgia to play the Swarm on Sunday.
No. 7 (7) New England (2-4). New England looked like it was going to extend its winning streak to 3 games when it took a late 2-goal lead against the Swarm but it could not close the deal as Georgia scored 4 late goals of its own to win 17-15. Next week the Black Wolves will play the Buffalo Bandits twice, in Buffalo on Friday and in New England on Sunday.
No. 8 (8) Vancouver (2-5). The Vancouver Stealth lost their fifth straight game to a depleted Colorado Mammoth team 10-9 in OT on Sunday. Right now, the Stealth look like a team that can always find a way to lose. The Stealth played very well for almost three quarters of this game but when the game was on the line, they made poor decisions, lost all the loose ball battles and seemed to collapse under the pressure. They travel to Calgary next weekend.
No. 9 (9) Buffalo (1-4). The Bandits had the weekend off but next week will be critical to their season as they play the Black Wolves twice.