After six National Lacrosse League games across four days in NLL Week 3, teams are beginning to define themselves in the young season. While the Colorado Mammoth remain the only unbeaten, check out which other teams shooting up and down the ranks by previewing the NLL Power Rankings by Brian Shanahan on IL Indoor below.
“There were six games played during Week 3 of the National Lacrosse League and there were a couple of surprises,” Shanahan writes. “The biggest surprise was the Vancouver victory over the Saskatchewan Rush on Friday night.”
I am not surprised that the Stealth came to play hard after their embarrassing 17-7 home opening loss. But I am shocked that after Saskatchewan climbed back in the game and took an 11-8 lead in the third quarter, the Stealth scored the next (and last) 5 goals of the game. When is the last time we saw that happen to the Rush?
Vancouver’s impressive victory leave both teams with a 1-1 record. In other games, the Calgary Roughnecks hung on to defeat the New England Black Wolves 9-8. The surprise in that game was that former Roughneck and 2015 NLL MVP Shawn Evans was held to just 1 point against his former team.
However, Evans was back in form on Sunday when he scored 5 goals and 3 assists in New England’s 11-6 victory over the Georgia Swarm. The Rochester Knighthawks looked more like themselves as they swept their home and home series against the Toronto Rock by scores of 12-7 and 12-5. The surprise in these games was that the Toronto’s Rock’s offence continues to look futile. Toronto has just scored 19 goals in 3 games.
The best game of the weekend was definitely Colorado’s 15-14 victory over the Buffalo Bandits. This game never saw more than a 2-goal spread and the lead changed hands 9 times. Adam Jones scored 6 goals for the victorious Mammoth. That’s not a surprise as Jones leads the NLL with 13 goals in 3 games.
1) Colorado Mammoth (3-0) (+1): Colorado continues to pour in the goals as it won its third straight game by defeating the Buffalo Bandits 15-14 on Mike Burke’s overtime winning goal. Adam Jones scored 6 goals for the Mammoth (5 in the first half) and Callum Crawford picked up 9 assists. The Mammoth will travel to Vancouver to face the Stealth next weekend.
2) Rochester Knighthawks (2-1) (+5): OK, this looks more like the Rochester we are used to. In defeating the Toronto Rock 12-7 and 12-5, the Knighthawks got solid goaltending from Matt Vinc, defence that allowed just 7 five-on-five goals, and offence from the usual suspects. Cody Jamieson, who quarterbacks the offence better than anyone in the NLL, picked up 18 points in the two games while Dan Dawson (7 goals) looks unstoppable at times. The Rochester Knighthawks have next week off then host the Georgia Swarm on Saturday Jan. 30.
4) Buffalo Bandits (1-1): The Buffalo Bandits looked good but they lost to the Mammoth 15-14 in OT. The Bandits got 4 goals from Mark Steenhuis and 3 from Dhane Smith. The difference in the game may have been the two short-handed goals that Buffalo gave up, including a game-tying goal by Joey Cupido with 6 minutes left in regulation. Next week the Bandits will host their QEW rival Toronto Rock.
5) Vancouver Stealth (1-1) (+4): Do I really think the Vancouver Stealth are a better team than the Saskatchewan Rush? No, but they deserve this spot today after defeating the Rush 13-11 in Saskatchewan’s home opener. The Stealth used a great start (3-0 lead) and an even better finish (5 straight goals) to take the much needed victory. Corey Small scored five goals for the Stealth, including 4 of their last 5 and young goaltender Eric Penney outdueled veteran Aaron Bold for the victory. It will be interesting to see if the Stealth can experience some of this success at home where they have been dismal in the past. On Saturday the will get their chance when they host the 3-0 Colorado Mammoth.
6) Saskatchewan Rush (1-1) (-5): It’s not often that you see the Rush blow a lead of any amount in a fourth quarter so it was shocking that they were outscored 4-0 by the Vancouver Stealth in the 4th quarter of their 13-11 loss on Saturday. Over 9,000 fans, most watching their first game of professional lacrosse, got a taste of what NLL lacrosse is like. There were great goals, saves, hits and a couple of fights. But the biggest lesson the fans might have got was how suddenly the momentum can swing in a lacrosse game. Saskatchewan’s next game will be when it hosts Colorado in two weeks.