Preview Brian Shanahan’s NLL Power Rankings after Week 12 on IL Indoor below after four National Lacrosse League games this past weekend including Saturday night’s thrilling matchup of divisional leaders between the Edmonton Rush and Toronto Rock. The playoff race gets into gear with four more games in Week 13 including two on Saturday and two on Sunday.
“There were four games in the National Lacrosse League this weekend and things are starting to get pretty interesting,” Shanahan writes. “On Friday, the Calgary Roughnecks got their third win of the year as they trampled the New England Black Wolves by a score of 20-9. On Saturday, the Colorado Mammoth defeated the Vancouver Stealth by a score of 14-11 in Vancouver. That win kept the Colorado Mammoth in second place, within striking distance of the first-place Edmonton Rush, who defeated the Toronto Rock 11-8, in a physical battle in Toronto. In the only other game of the weekend the Buffalo Bandits defeated the Minnesota Swarm by a score of 12-8. There`s not a lot of changes in the Power Rankings but I’ve got a feeling that a shakeup could be on the way. Check it out.”
1) Toronto Rock (10-3): The leaders in the East lost an epic battle to the leaders in the West by a final score of 11-9. This was an extremely physical game that looked destined for overtime until Nick Bilic scored his 2nd of the game with just over 2 minutes remaining. However, the biggest news of the night was the loss of Rob Hellyer for the Toronto Rock. Hellyer, the NLL`s top point getter, left the game late in the first half with an upper body injury. Even though second-year player Nick Diachenko did an admirable job stepping in to take his spot In the second half, you can’t replace a player like Hellyer – unless of course you have a player like Garret Billings in the wings. While we hope for a speedy recovery, it might be time for Toronto and Billings to start trying to get a deal done. Next week the Rock travel to Calgary to play the Roughnecks.
4) Buffalo Bandits (7-6): If you break the season into 6-game chunks, Buffalo has to really like what it has in its last 6 games as it plays sub-.500 teams the rest of the way. While it looks easy on paper you still have to go out and win and that’s what the Bandits did Saturday night as they defeated the Minnesota Swarm with relative ease by a final score of 12-9. Mark Steenhuis led all scorers with 3 goals and 3 assists. Buffalo has next weekend off before hosting New England on April 4.
5) Colorado Mammoth (6-5): Has anyone ever won the rookie of the year playing half a season? Last week, Jeremy Noble had 2 goals and 5 assists in his NLL debut and this week he had 4 goals and 2 assists as he helped lead the Mammoth past the Vancouver Stealth by a final score of 14-11. These teams go at it again next weekend and while the Mammoth are fighting to stay in second place, their newfound confidence might allow them to take a shot at first.
7) Calgary Roughnecks (3-8) (+1): Well, the Roughnecks sure looked like the team we expected this season as their offence exploded on the visiting New England Black Wolves and all the players who were shut out last week (Dickson, Dobbie and Shattler) were huge contributors scoring a combined 13 goals this week. The real test for Calgary will come next week when the Toronto Rock comes to town. Calgary played Toronto tough – but lost – earlier in the season. Next week they need a win.
8) New England Black Wolves (3-6) (-1): The New England Black Wolves were no match for the explosive Calgary Roughnecks this week. Next week they will have a better chance as they travel to Minnesota for their second meeting of the year, and first of two straight games against the Swarm. Although 4th place in the East is a more attainable goal than a playoff spot, at least the Black Wolves control their own destiny with three more games against the third-place Buffalo Bandits.
Click here for full NLL Power Rankings after Week 12 by Brian Shanahan on IL Indoor. Photo by Bill Wippert.