Then there were four. The battle for the new National Lacrosse League Cup continues this weekend with the East and West Finals. By late Sunday night we’ll know the division representatives as both of these games are setting up to be classics.
NLL staff members Andy McNamara, Brian Shanahan, and Ashley Docking deliver their game predictions every week.
Send us your picks @NLL on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using the specific game hashtags for each match-up below.
This is a true pick’em as the defending champs try to fend off the young gun Knighthawks. Both clubs hit their stride at the right time. Rochester disposed of the Black Wolves last week, while the Swarm rested on the bye.
The K-Hawks won the season series 2-1, but the last victory came on March 10th and the Swarm have been rolling since then. Each team can score, defend, and are solid inbetween the pipes. I’ll be shocked if there’s more than a two goal difference.
I get a special vibe from Rochester. A slew of hungry rookies and sophomores sprinkled with high level veterans put them over the top. To be the man you have to beat the man and on Saturday the Knighthawks get it done.
Oh boy! Whatever happens down in Duluth on Saturday should be exciting. The Rochester Knighthawks can hang with anyone; they proved as much sweeping the Rush this season. They even gave the Swarm their last loss of the regular season. The problem is that the loss was six games ago.
Georgia finished the season winning eight of 10 and being in relatively the same form that allowed for them to win the Champion’s Cup (Now National Lacrosse League Cup) should be enough to send them to the Finals.
Rochester has looked very good in this season series, but as of late Georgia has looked like it’s back to playing championship caliber ball and their defence has looked better than ever. It’s tough to go against Cody Jamieson and Matt Vinc, but I think the Swarm will head back to the finals to defend their throne.
I think their experience from last season will come in handy here. They looked great in the second half of the season, and while it’ll be a tight game, I give them the edge.
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Calgary plays the role of scrappy underdog up against the perennial powerhouse Rush. Saskatchewan did sweep the season series 3-0; however, two of those were decided by a single goal.
The green and black are a well-oiled machine; add in the insane atmosphere of SaskTel Centre in the playoffs and the Roughnecks definitely have their work cut out. I feel the real x-factor for Calgary will be 20-year old stud goaltender Christian Del Bianco. How will he respond when the stakes are highest and will that be enough to not put too much pressure on the Riggers offense?
I predict this Sunday nighter will be close, entertaining, and ultimately sends the Rush back to the Finals.
The Roughnecks are good and they can battle back with the best of them. No quit in that locker room. But this game is a little like the tortoise and the hare to me. The Rush bounded out of the gate this season; people thought they could go undefeated. Calgary was a little shakier then picked up steam and played some close games.
The difference between the NLL playoffs and the aforementioned fable is that the post season is a sprint not a marathon, and I don’t think Calgary will make it to the finish line in the nick of time.
I wanted to take the Roughnecks here badly. The second half come back led by Christian Del Bianco and the high flying Riggers offence looked mightily impressive in Colorado. I absolutely think Calgary has what it takes to pull off the upset at SaskTel, but I just cannot go against the well oiled machine that is the Saskatchewan Rush.
From start to finish, Derek Keenan’s Rush have been the best ball club in the National Lacrosse League. I think we see ourselves a rematch of last year’s finals, but this year the two teams will be battling for the new NLL Cup.
Tough to pick against the Rush here. They won the season series against the Roughnecks 3-0, and Calgary has had an extremely tough time with this team over the course of the last 3 seasons. It’s looking like a 2017 rematch in the finals.
Tweet at @NLL using #CGYvsSAS
Check out my NLL Division Finals “X-Factors” article here: https://bit.ly/2HZBNZq
Let us know if you agree or disagree:
Andy McNamara has been a play-by-play commentator for the NLL on TSN, NLLTV.com, and world lacrosse tournaments since 2011. He’s also a sport talk host and anchor on TSN 1050 sports radio. Follow Andy on twitter @AndyMc81.