The first half of the 2016 National Lacrosse League season is in the books with what’s sure to be an exciting ride ahead as teams make their playoff push. Preview Brian Shanahan’s NLL Power Rankings after Week 9 on IL Indoor below to see which teams are heating up and cooling off during the midseasons stretch.
“It’s the official half way point of the 2016 National Lacrosse League season and what a season it has been so far,” Shanahan writes.
It seems that every week we are throwing around superlatives about another remarkable comeback and outstanding team and individual performances. Week 9 was as exciting as any weekend I can remember. We had 5 games and 4 of were decided by one goal. Two of those games went to overtime while the other two had the winning goals scored in the dying seconds.
The only game of the weekend that was not a barnburner was a massive 17-6 victory for the Toronto Rock, who just a month ago was dead and buried. And did I say we have had great individual performances this year? How about Adam Jones’ game for the ages on Saturday night? With the Mammoth down and out by a 9-4 score in the fourth quarter, Jones scored 5 straight goals (I swear it was on 5 shots as well) and then put in the winner, his 6th with 1 second remaining to give Colorado the 11-10 win.
In the other games, the Buffalo Bandits halted their 2-game losing streak by defeating Saskatchewan 19-18 in overtime on Friday in Saskatchewan. On Sunday, the Rush salvaged their weekend by beating Calgary 12-11 in OT. In the other Sunday game, the New England Black Wolves extended their record to 5-2 by defeating the Georgia Swarm, 16-15.
Let’s check out the Power Rankings:
1) Colorado Mammoth (7-2): The Mammoth escaped what looked like a sure loss because of the record-breaking heroics by Adam Jones in the fourth quarter. (His 6 goals is the most a player has ever scored in the fourth quarter). Aside from Jones, the Mammoth were having a horrible game. The power play was 0-for-6 on the night and Dillon Ward had been chased from the net. Colorado also dodged a bullet late in the game when it appeared that referee completely missed seeing Alex Buque put the ball in his own net. Vancouver had used up its challenge flags. Next week, the Mammoth host the first place New England Black Wolves.
2) New England Black Wolves (5-2) (+1): Yes I did say the first place New England Black Wolves. Shawn Evans scored 3 goals and 7 assists to lead the Wolves to a 16-15 victory over the Georgia Swarm on Sunday. Only Dhane Smith has a better points-per-game average than last year’s MVP Evans, who now has 52 points in just seven games. Surprisingly the Wolves have the league’s worst PP and PK. How long can they keep winning? Next week they will travel to Colorado and we’ll find out how the best in the East matches up against the best in the West.
4) Saskatchewan Rush (5-3) (-2): The Rush continue to play good but not the spectacular lacrosse that we have come to expect from them. However, that doesn’t mean that they are not exciting. This weekend they split two overtime games, losing to the Buffalo Bandits 19-18 and defeating the Calgary Roughnecks, 12-11. Despite scoring 18 goals, the Rush really missed Zack Greer on Friday. He was back on Sunday and scored the winning goal in OT. The Rush have next weekend off but will host the Georgia Swarm in 2 weeks.
6) Georgia Swarm (4-5): The Georgia Swarm came up short in an exciting 16-15 game in New England. The Swarm got 10 points from rookie Jesse King and now have 110 points from the rookie trio of Randy Staats, King and Lyle Thompson. The Swarm have next weekend off but travel to Saskatchewan in two weeks.
9) Toronto Rock (2-6): This weekend the Toronto Rock looked like team that started 2015 with six straight victories and made it to the NLL championship as they dominated the Rochester Knighthawks 17-6. Nick Rose was strong for a second week in a row but the most impressive thing about the Toronto Rock was how quickly their offense moved the ball – especially on the PP – again reminiscent of the 2015 season. If the Toronto Rock can continue to play like they have in the last few weeks then it will be two years in a row that a 0-6 team rebounded to make the playoffs (Calgary did it last year). The Rock will have next week off but will host both Calgary and Vancouver the weekend of March 11.
Click here for the full NLL Power Rankings after Week 9 by Brian Shanahan on IL Indoor. Photo by Jack Dempsey.