With five National Lacrosse League teams off in Week 6, four more worked overtime this past weekend. The Minnesota Swarm topped the Rochester Knighthawks at home in a 7-6 defensive battle, which was capped off by Callum Crawford’s OT winner. On Saturday, Jerome Thompson played the hero with his overtime goal that gave the Buffalo Bandits a 15-14 road win that left the Calgary Roughnecks still searching for the team’s first win. Check out NLL Power Rankings by Brian Shanahan on IL Indoor as the league enters one of the busiest weekends of the season with seven games on the Week 7 schedule.
“Week 6 was another one of those quiet weekends in the National Lacrosse League with only 2 games but there was no lack of excitement as both games went to overtime,” Shanahan writes. “On Friday night in Minnesota, the Rochester Knighthawks were trying to win their third in a row after a slow start to their season. However, the Minnesota Swarm had other ideas as they were trying to avoid losing two in a row for the first time this year.”
4) Buffalo Bandits (4-3) (+1): Buffalo got 10 points from Dhane Smith and 8 points from the NLL’s leading scorer, Ryan Benesch. If Buffalo can ever get their league’s worst power play (21%) working, they might be scary. Next week, the Bandits host the Rochester Knighthawks.
5) Minnesota Swarm (3-2) (+1): By defeating the Rochester Knighthawks 7-6, the NLL’s third highest scoring team proved that they can also play defense as they shaved almost two goals off their goals against average. Goaltender Zach Higgins now has the league’s best GAA (9.30), save percentage (.801) and only Buffalo’s Anthony Cosmo (who has started 7 games) has more wins. Next weekend is huge for the Swarm as they’ll hope to overtake first place when they play Toronto Friday and Saturday.
6) Rochester Knighthawks (2-3) (-2): For the third time this season, the Rochester Knighthawks failed to score more than 8 goals. Ironically they were winners in one of those games. I would say Rochester is concerned but not panicky. It’s easy to forget that the three time NLL Champs had mediocre regular seasons in two of their last three years. Next week, Rochester is in Buffalo on Saturday and New England on Sunday. If Rochester loses in Buffalo then Sunday’s game will a “must win” game. Only if they lose both of those games will it be time to use the word ‘panic’ with Rochester.
8) Vancouver Stealth (2-3): After last week’s victory, I wasn’t sure how Lewis Ratcliff fit into Vancouver’s plans for the future but I was not expecting the 33 year old to retire. Ratcliff was one of the NLL’s best scorers over the last decade and even though it seems that we always say this, he truly was a good guy. With the way Lewis kept in shape I’m sure he could have caught on with another team and played for another 5 years easily if he wanted to. Good luck Lewis. Next weekend is huge for the Vancouver Stealth as a win over the visiting Calgary Roughnecks will create some separation between the two teams that look like they will battle for the last playoff spot.
Click here to find Shanny’s full power rankings including the top spot along with his expert analysis on IL Indoor. Photo by Graig Abel.