Another exciting weekend of NLL action is in the books after the weekend featured five games across four days. Which teams came out on top heading into Week 8? Preview the NLL Power Rankings by Brian Shanahan on IL Indoor below to see which teams were the biggest movers.
“There were 5 games in Week 7 of the National Lacrosse League and the Colorado Mammoth were the big winners,” Shanahan writes. “After losing two straight, including and 15-7 loss in Vancouver last week, you could not be blamed if you thought things would get tougher for the Mammoth as they faced Saskatchewan on Thursday and Calgary on Saturday. Well, the Mammoth made a loud statement this weekend by defeating the Rush 9-7 on Thursday and then handling the Calgary Roughnecks with relative ease (13-8) on Saturday.”
In other games this weekend, the Rochester Knighthawks needed overtime to defeat the much improved Vancouver Stealth 15-14 on Saturday. Shawn Evans and the New England Black Wolves broke the hearts of Toronto Rock fans by defeating the Rock 17-16 in OT. Evans, the 2016 league MVP, sent the game into overtime when he scored his 6th goal of with only 7 seconds remaining. He then set up Kyle Buchanan for the winner in OT.
In the only other game of the weekend, Dhane Smith is not only continuing his torrid scoring pace, he is turning it up. He scored 5 goals and 13 points in Buffalo’s 21-14 victory over the Georgia Swarm.
Colorado is back on top but let’s see where everyone else lands this week in the Power Rankings.
1) Colorado Mammoth (6-2) (+1): I haven’t been this impressed with the Colorado Mammoth since they won the Champion’s Cup 10 years ago. On Thursday, Dillon Ward was the star for the Mammoth as he and his teammates held the defending champs to 7 goals on 54 shots. On Saturday, the Mammoth went into Calgary and spotted the Roughnecks a 4-goal lead before coming back for a 13-8 win. Callum Crawford had 13 points for the weekend and has been a huge addition to the team as he leads it in points with 49. The Mammoth will get a well-deserved weekend off before facing the Vancouver Stealth, for the third time this season, on Feb. 27 in Colorado.
2) Buffalo Bandits (4-2) (+2): The Bandits went into Georgia and beat the Swarm by a touchdown, 21-14. Smith scored 5 goals and picked up 8 assists to give him an incredible 50 points in just 6 games. He is on a pace to score 150 points, which would shatter Shawn Evans’ record of 130, set just last season. The Bandits play in Toronto this Friday and then host the Georgia Swarm in Buffalo on Saturday.
3) New England Black Wolves (4-2): The New England Black Wolves got back on the wining track as they defeated the Toronto Rock 17-16 in OT on Sunday. The Evans trade continues to pay dividends for the Black Wolves. In Evans, this hard working team has one of the world’s best game-breakers. Evans scored a number of goals that exemplified how he cannot be contained on a one-on-one battle and his game-tying goal was a long outside bouncer through a screen that only seems to find the mesh for goal scorers of his calibre. New England’s next game will be at home against Georgia in two weeks.
5) Rochester Knighthawks (3-2) (+2): The Knighthawks were not great in their game against the Vancouver Stealth on Saturday but for the first time this season they were able to complete the comeback for a victory. Rochester was down 8-3 in second quarter and went on a roll to bring the score to 11-9 in its favour. In past seasons, the Knighthawks would put the nail in the coffin after a comeback like that but they have not displayed that same killer instinct this year and it took overtime before their most clutch player, Codie Jamieson gave them a 16-15 victory. Rochester’s next game is in Saskatchewan on Friday.
8) Vancouver Stealth (2-4): Despite the 16-15 overtime loss, I think the Vancouver Stealth are proving that they are a far better team than they were a month ago. Vancouver’s offence is producing better than it ever has and they are dangerous from both left and right. If Vancouver keeps playing like it has been for the past 3 games, it will be definitely in the playoff mix. Next week, it hosts the Calgary Roughnecks in a game that could have huge implications in that playoff race.