Week 15 of the 2015 National Lacrosse League regular season was a busy one with six games across three days. Now that the dust has settled, preview the NLL Power Rankings by Brian Shanahan on IL Indoor below. With the playoff race in full gear, buckle up for a wild ride in final three weekends of the season as teams fight for position in the quest for the Champion’s Cup.
“There were six games in the National Lacrosse League this weekend and the best two games were played in Alberta,” Shanahan writes. “The Calgary Roughnecks and Edmonton Rush split a home-and-home series with each team winning in their own barn. The Roughnecks defeated the Edmonton 9-8 on Friday and the win finally moved them ahead of Vancouver and into a playoff spot (temporarily). On Saturday, the Rush won 11-9 but it was not a night without something to celebrate for the Roughnecks. Shawn Evans scored a goal and 7 assists to move him to 117 points on the season, breaking the single-season record held by fellow “Boro boy” John Grant Jr.”
1) Edmonton Rush (10-5): I wouldn’t say that Calgary exposed a chink in the armour of the Edmonton Rush but I would say that Edmonton knows it has its hands full every time it meets the Calgary Roughnecks. On Friday in Calgary, the Rush looked awful for much of the game and were trailing 8-3 entering the fourth quarter. The Rush got their act together for the fourth quarter to make a game of it and lose 9-8. On Saturday it was almost the opposite type of game. At times it looked like the Rush were going to run away from the Roughnecks but Calgary wouldn’t go away. The Rush never gave up their original lead and won by a final score of 11-9. Edmonton hosts second-place Colorado next weekend.
2) Rochester Knighthawks (10-4): When referring to the Rochester Knighthawks, Edmonton coach Derek Keenan was quoted as saying “I guess we poked the bear.” Since losing to Edmonton 16-3 a couple of weeks ago, the Rochester Knighthawks have won three straight games by scores of 11-7,10-2 and 14- 5 on Saturday night against the Colorado Mammoth. It’s looking very likely that the Rochester Knighthawks will run the table the rest of the regular season (their only opponent with a winning record is Colorado). If that happens, the Knighthawks will take first place in the East and get a first-round playoff bye. Next weekend might be Rochester’s toughest challenge as it travels to play Colorado and Vancouver on Friday and Saturday.
3) Toronto Rock (12-4): The Toronto Rock had a nice rebound game as they defeated the Vancouver Stealth 14-7. Last week against Rochester, Brett Hickey was shut out for the first time this season even though he had 15 shots on Matt Vinc. This week, Hickey scored a franchise record 7 goals on 11 shots. Toronto must have also been pleased with Kevin Crowley’s performance. In his second game as a Rock (after his first Toronto practice) Crowley scored three goals and three assists. Nick Rose got the win for Toronto, which will host the New England Black Wolves next weekend.
6) Calgary Roughnecks (5-11): The Calgary Roughnecks finally jumped past the Vancouver Stealth but it not for long. Calgary split its weekend series with Edmonton but when the Stealth defeated New England on Sunday, they regained third place ahead of Calgary. Despite the spectacular seasons from Shawn Evans and Curtis Dickson it looks like it will come down to Calgary’s last game of the season, against Vancouver, to determine whether it makes the playoffs or not. Next week, Calgary travels to Minnesota to face the Swarm.
7) Vancouver Stealth (5-10): The Vancouver Stealth were no match for the Toronto Rock on Friday (they lost 14-7) but they may have salvaged their playoff aspirations by defeating the New England Black Woolves 11-9 on Sunday. Rookie goaltender Eric Penney was the star for Vancouver on Sunday as he saved 59 shots. Next week, the Stealth will host the Rochester Knighthawks but regardless of what they do the next two games (against Rochester and Buffalo), their playoff hopes will likely hinge on what happens in their last game of the season, against the Calgary Roughnecks on May 2.