After six National Lacrosse League games in Week 11, Brian Shanahan has released his updated NLL Power Rankings on IL Indoor as the regular season enters the final third of the schedule with plenty of action remaining each and every week as the playoff race heats up.
1) Toronto Rock (10-2): In case anyone was beginning to think the Toronto Rock were unbeatable, the Buffalo Bandits proved otherwise. Toronto led the Bandits 8-5 early in the first half on both nights but were outscored by Buffalo by a total of 15-8 in the second half of both games. Buffalo was actually a minute away from sweeping the series when Kasey Beirnes sent Game 2 into overtime. Brett Hickey was the hero in overtime for the Toronto as the Rock once again showed that resilience is one of their best qualities this season. Next week the Rock host the Edmonton Rush for the second time this season.
3) Edmonton Rush (5-4): Edmonton ended its two-game losing streak and served notice that it is still a dominant team by outshooting the Stealth 65-36 and setting a team record with 19 goals in a 19-7 victory. Mark Matthews also set a team record by scoring 9 points (5 goals and 4 assists) and Alberta-born rookie Tyler Melnyk scored 4 goals and 1 assist in his first NLL game. Next week, the Rush travel to Toronto to meet the Rock in the TSN game of the week.
4) Buffalo Bandits (6-6): The Bandits came so close to sweeping their QEW rival Toronto Rock. There were so many positive signs for the Bandits this weekend, including the play of 24-year-old Kedoh Hill, whose 4 second half goals on Friday carried the Bandits to victory. On Saturday he had a goal and 2 assists, including a beautiful setup for a John Tavares goal. It’s hard to believe that Hill, from Six Nations, was a toddler when John Tavares was leading the Six Nations Chiefs to Mann Cups from 1994-96. Buffalo hosts the Minnesota Swarm next weekend and in their remaining 6 games of the season they play New England 3 times, Minnesota twice and Vancouver – all teams below 500. This is a team that can go on a roll.
5) Colorado Mammoth (5-5) (+1): The struggling Colorado Mammoth were given a huge boost with the arrival of Jeremy Noble, whom they acquired in a trade with the Rochester Knighthawks. Noble scored 2 goals and 5 assists in his Colorado debut and helped lead the Mammoth to a 12-8 victory. The Mammoth will play the Vancouver Stealth in each of the next two weeks in games that will be extremely important in the West Division race.
7) New England Black Wolves (3-5) (+2): After two weekends off, the New England Black Wolves got their first road win (and first win since January 10) by defeating the Minnesota Swarm 10-9. Rookie Mark Cockerton had the best game in his young career as he scored 2 goals and 3 assists. It was a game of runs and Black Wolves star Kevin Crowley stopped a three-goal Minnesota run by scoring the winner with just over a minute left in the game. Next week, the Black Wolves travel to Calgary.