The 2016 National Lacrosse League regular season has reached the one-third mark following four games in Week 6. Now that the dust has settled, preview Brian Shanahan’s NLL Power Rankings on IL Indoor below to see which teams have been making moves on the turf and in the standings of late.
“Week 6 was a great weekend for the home teams in the National Lacrosse League,” Shanahan writes. “On Friday, the defending champs treated their new home town fans to their first blowout of the season as the Saskatchewan Rush soundly defeated the Calgary Roughnecks by a score of 19-12.”
Sure, it’s not a great game for Calgary fans or even the neutral observers, but the 9,500 fans at the Sasktel Centre loved it and will likely spread word.
In Buffalo, the Bandits exacted revenge on the New England Black Wolves for last week’s defeat but it was not without drama as the Black Wolves turned an 11-5 third quarter Buffalo lead into a 12-10 cliff-hanger.
In one of the most exciting finishes of the year, the Calgary Roughnecks came back from a 9-3 third quarter hole to defeat the upstart Georgia Swarm 12-11. Calgary would not have hung on for that win if not for some heroic saves by goaltender Mike Poulin, who came in for relief of Frank Scigliano.
And last but not least, the Vancouver Stealth played their most complete game from start to finish – and they did it at home – as they smoked the Colorado Mammoth 15-7. Just two weeks ago, the same Colorado Mammoth embarrassed the Stealth by a score of 14-5.
There is a new No. 1 in the Power Rankings. Let’s check it out.
1) Saskatchewan Rush (3-1) (+2): Zack Greer’s 5 goals in under 3 minutes turned an 8-5 Saskatchewan lead into a 13-5 score and broke a relatively close game wide open. The final score was 19-12 for Saskatchewan. It’s no surprise that the Rush are back on top of the Power Rankings and it’s probably more surprising that it took this long before we saw them dominate an opponent. Saskatchewan will play the Colorado Mammoth in Denver on Thursday in a game that will likely determine whether or not we have a first place challenge in the west.
4) Buffalo Bandits (3-2) (+2): If it weren’t for their stumble in New England last weekend, I would have the Bandits in the No. 2 spot now. Keeping on the theme of specialty teams, the Buffalo Bandits are the best in the NLL and they are being led by budding superstar Dhane Smith, who had 6 points in their 12-10 win and leads all NLL scorers with 37 points in 5 games. The Bandits next game will be in Georgia on Sunday.
5) Calgary Roughnecks (3-3): Calgary was no match for Saskatchewan on Friday (losing 19-12) but salvaged what could have been a terrible weekend by completing a wild comeback against the Georgia Swarm on Saturday. The Roughnecks were down 9-3 and with Mike Poulin allowing only 4 goals on 28 shots in relief of Frank Scigliano, the Roughnecks sent their fans home happy with a 12-11 victory. Next Saturday the Roughnecks host their Rocky Mountain rival, the Colorado Mammoth, for the first time this season.
6) Georgia Swarm (3-3) (-2): The Georgia Swarm came so close to extending their winning streak to 3 games in Calgary but ran into hot goalie in Mike Poulin. The young Swarm still looked impressive in a hostile building and will probably learn from their loss. Georgia hosts the Buffalo Bandits on Sunday.
8) Vancouver Stealth (2-3): The Vancouver Stealth played their best game of the 2016 season, soundly defeating the Colorado Mammoth 15-7. Every aspect of Vancouver’s game looked good – offence, defense and goaltending. Logan Schuss picked up 9 points for the second week in a row and goaltender Eric Penney stopped 40 of 47 shots. Most important, it was the first time this season that the Stealth have not been terrible at home. The Vancouver fans were desperate to see a decent effort at home and the Stealth went above and beyond. Next week, the Stealth will travel to Rochester to play the Knighthawks.