Preview the National Lacrosse League Power Rankings by Brian Shanahan on IL Indoor below after five games in NLL Week 5.
“There was a full slate of games in the National Lacrosse League this weekend and boy were we entertained,” Shanahan writes. “Put up your hands if you picked the Georgia Swarm to sweep their two game road trip in Toronto and Rochester.”
I don’t see any hands and I bet there would be a lot of us who picked them to go 0-2 over the weekend (I did). The Swarm’s offense looked very good in defeating the Toronto Rock 20-17 Friday but their defence (and goaltending) helped them cruise to a 13-9 win over Rochester on Saturday.
I wouldn’t call it a shock that the New England Black Wolves defeated the Bandits but did anyone think they would dominate like they did? The final score of 15-11 only looks close because the Bandits scored 3 late goals.
In Saskatchewan, we got the game we thought we would as the undefeated Mammoth were narrowly defeated by the defending champs, 12-10. We also got a great battle in Calgary on Saturday as the Roughnecks hung on for a 15-13 victory over the Vancouver Stealth in a nasty game. Why can’t Vancouver play like this at home?
1) Colorado Mammoth (4-1): The Mammoth lost the game in Saskatchewan (12-10) but one loss against the defending champs will not knock them out of the No. 1 spot yet. The Mammoth will have a huge test in two weeks when they host the rematch against the Rush on a Thursday night and then go to Calgary two nights later. Of course, Colorado can’t look past this Saturday’s game in Vancouver as the Stealth are nursing some bruised egos after their beating a week ago.
2) New England (3-1) (+2): Coach Glenn Clark and the New England Black Wolves are off to a great start to the 2016 NLL season and a lot of the credit has to go to goaltender Evan Kirk, who leads the NLL in GAA and save percentage. Kirk faced 67 Buffalo Bandit shots on Saturday but led his team to a 13-9 victory. Kevin Crowley had a huge night offensively with 6 goals and Shawn Evans had nine points. Next week these teams meet again in Buffalo.
3) Saskatchewan Rush (2-1) (+2): Maybe I’m jumping the gun putting Saskatchewan in the No. 3 position but I just get the feeling this team is ready to start its annual run. On Saturday, it got off to a poor start for the third time in three games. The Rush never had a lead in the game until they went ahead 11-10 late in the fourth quarter. It also appears that the Saskatchewan fans are appreciating the entertainment that the Rush have given them. They’ll get more when the Calgary Roughnecks come to town next Saturday.
6) Buffalo Bandits (2-2) (-3): The Buffalo Bandits got 8 points (4 goals and 4 assists) from Dhane Smith and had 67 shots on New England goaltender Evan Kirk but were outscored 10-1 in a 25 minute stretch from late in the second quarter till early in the fourth. The Bandits will have a chance to get revenge when they host the Wolves on Saturday.
8) Vancouver Stealth (1-3): The Vancouver Stealth actually looked very good Saturday as they lost a hard fought game to the Calgary Roughnecks by a final score of 15-13. It helped to have Garrett Billings back in the lineup and the Stealth got offense from both sides of the floor. Logan Schuss scored 5 goals and 4 assists (on 14 shots) and Rhys Duch and Billings had 8 and 7 points each. Eric Penney was sometimes great and sometimes struggled with the outside shots and Matt Beers took a couple of ill-advised penalties at critical times. However, if Vancouver could play at home with the same passion it has taken to the road there would be a lot more happy fans in Langley. Hopefully the Stealth will bring that passion to their next home game on Saturday when they host the Colorado Mammoth for the second time in two weeks.