As has been the case for the majority of the season, most of the games in week five of the NLL came down to the last minute of the game. Beside Colorado Mammoth’s major 15-9 win over the Minnesota Swarm, the other three games all came down to the final minutes.
Toronto continues to show why they are the top team in the East Division, holding off a late surge from second place Buffalo Bandits 14-12 to maintain first in the league at 5-1.
And the defending NLL champions Rochester Knighthawks finally won their first game of the year against the Washington Stealth 7-6. Offensive woes continue though, as they have only scored 39 goals through four games this year.
Not only did the Roughnecks beat their bitter rivals in the form of the Edmonton Rush on Saturday night, they jumped over the Stealth and into first place in the West Division.
Statistically, they are one of the two best teams in the league with the Rock. They’ve averaged over 15 goals for in five games, compared to second place Mammoth who are sniping 13 markers a match. And their defence is still in the top half of the league at around 12 goals against a game. Finally, the Roughnecks hold a plus-15 goal differential, tops in the circuit with the Rock the next closest at plus-9.
Next week, the Roughnecks will be taking on the Rush in a rematch of the Battle of Alberta, this time at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
THE REST OF THE WEST
Last year, Rush goaltender Aaron Bold was one of the top netminders in the league, but he did not show it on Saturday night. After he allowed six goals on twelve shots in just over a quarter, he was pulled from the game for good. He had an off-night, according to Roughnecks forward Scott Ranger, but expect a bounce back performance next weekend.
The Stealth lost their second game in the row, this time against the Rochester Knighthawks 7-6. A sign of their offensive troubles: defender Mike Grimes led the team in scoring with two goals and one assist.
After an off-game against the Roughnecks last weekend, John Grant Jr. was back to his typical Best in the World self. Versus the Swarm, he contributed on 11 of the Mammoth’s 15 goals and is back in the Top 5 of NLL scoring. As well, after releasing Chris Levis during the week, they received strong netminding from Matt Roik, who allowed a season-low nine goals in the win.
In the streaky game versus the Mammoth, the Minnesota Swarm couldn’t create the necessary fourth quarter comeback for the win. After three losses in four games, they remain tied with the Rush for last in the West Division.
GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK (BESIDES THE ROUGHNECKS
Rochester Knighthawks at Philadelphia Wings on Friday; Rochester at Buffalo Bandits on Saturday
The Knighthawks have had their offensive challenges, but their defense has been fantastic. Goaltender Matt Vinc is third in the league in GAA and saves, while the team as a whole has allowed a league best 44 goals. With the two-game road swing against division rivals, the Knighthawks could jump from last to second with a perfect weekend.