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NLL: Ten Things to Know for Week 18

Abbreviated Holiday Schedule Offers Prelude to Big Final Stretch

The National Lacrosse League (@NLL), the largest and most successful professional lacrosse property in the world, offers four games on the holiday weekend, and every one has significant playoff implications as “The March to May” works its way into the home stretch.

Case in point: nine teams have either seven or eight losses, and the first three games of the week feature those clubs facing each other as they are all in the hunt for playoff berths and even first-round home dates. The NLL Saturday Showcase fits that bill: the defending champion Buffalo Bandits (7-7) visit the Philadelphia Wings (5-8 entering Friday’s contest with 5-8 Saskatchewan), in a matinee at 1 p.m. ET (ESPN+, TSN+, CW23, Philly57).

Here are 10 things to know about the NLL entering Week 18:

  • Standing Clinch: We discussed the tightness of the middle of the NLL standings above, but which teams can punch their tickets to the NLL postseason this week? Here are a few scenarios:

    • Toronto Rock (12-3) have clinched a playoff berth and a home playoff game.

    • San Diego Seals (11-4) have clinched a playoff berth and can clinch a home playoff game with a Philadelphia WIN vs. Buffalo

    • Albany FireWolves (10-5) can clinch a playoff berth with a Halifax WIN at Rochester

    • Las Vegas Desert Dogs (4-10) can be eliminated from playoff contention with a LOSS by Vancouver, and any of the following results:

      • Philadelphia win vs. Saskatchewan on Thursday, OR

      • Buffalo win at Philadelphia on Saturday, OR

      • Rochester win vs Halifax on Saturday

  • Groovy Goalie, Part I: Panther City Lacrosse Club goaltender Nick Damude (Fonthill, Ont.) doesn’t only stop shots heading toward his pipes; he’s one of the most prolific goalies at putting balls in the opposite net in NLL history. He became the first goalie since longtime Rochester netminder Pat O’Toole to score in three straight seasons (O’Toole did it in 2001-03). Damude is also one of only four GKs to score at least three times in his career.

  • …More Goalie Grooviness: The Goalie Goodness keeps on giving… at the rate of Calgary’s Christian DelBianco (Coquitlam, B.C.) dishing out assists. Another one vs. Albany last week (on the first goal of the night, whipping the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd into an early frenzy!) gives him him 16 in the first 14 games. The record is 23 set by Colorado Mammoth goalie Erik Miller in 2003 and tied by the aforementioned O’Toole in 2007. DelBianco had a career-best 19 helpers last season.

  • Rushing into Metrics: Saskatchewan plays its third game in eight days tonight, and in this week’s LAXMetrics powered by NLL, NLL.com’s Cooper Perkins thinks the Rush may be the most dangerous team in the NLL that we aren’t talking about enough.

  • Meet an NLL Staffer: NLL’s Director of Media Partnerships Alystia Moore sat down with NLL.com’s Anna Taylor, for a quick-hitter Q&A to learn more about how Moore helps guide the league’s relationships with its media partners.

  • Power Trip: Another flip-flop at the top of the NLL Power Rankings for NLL.com’s Adam Levi as he reinstalls the Toronto Rock’s to their previous No. 1 designation after an OT win at the No. 3 Halifax Thunderbirds, who showed they belong among the league’s elite. No. 2 San Diego got the win over Las Vegas – no style points, a W is a W – and the Georgia Swarm leaped three slots into fourth with a gritty 9-7 verdict against Saskatchewan.

  • Hang Loose: Halifax defender Jake Withers (Peterborough, Ont.) has passed Jay Thorimbert for the most loose ball recoveries in a season with 249. Thorimbert had set the season record in 2015 with 246

  • Promo Picks: Some of the promotions at NLL arenas this weekend include:

    • The Rochester Knighthawks are honoring the city they call home with a ROC the Rink Knight celebration, powered by DASH, on Saturday when they host the Halifax Thunderbirds at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena (7 p.m.). The Knighthawks will wear special Rochester-inspired jerseys that feature a lilac-themed pattern and lavender coloring as a tribute to the Flower City.

    • The Las Vegas Desert Dogs host “Knock Out Night” on Saturday vs. Vancouver (7 p.m. PT) at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, in honor of the long tradition of the sport of boxing in Sin City.

  • NLL Players reaching milestones last week included:

    • Albany forward Marshall Powless (Six Nations, Ont.) now has 100 points after securing two assists vs. Calgary

    • Colorado forward Connor Robinson (New Westminster, B.C.) now has 204 points after scoring two goals and adding three assists vs. Rochester

    • Philadelphia forward Joe Resetarits (Hamburg, N.Y.) now has 301 goals after netting two vs. Vancouver

    • Toronto goaltender Nick Rose (Orangeville, Ont.) passed Bob Watson for third all-time with 106 victories after defeating Halifax; He also became fifth goaltender all-time with 10,000 minutes

    • Vancouver forward Kyle Killen (Caven, Ont.) needs now has 203 points after a one-goal, four-assist effort against Philadelphia

  • Player achievements within reach this week are:

    • Buffalo defenseman Paul Dawson (Oakville, Ont.) needs four points to reach 100

    • Buffalo forward Chase Fraser (Vancouver) needs six points to reach 200

    • Buffalo coach John Tavares needs one win to pass Jamie Batley for 15th on the all-time list with 57

    • Halifax forward Ryan Benesch (Elmira, Ont.) needs two goals to pass Dan Dawson for fourth on the all-time list with 552; and one game played to pass Shawn Evans for sixth on the all-time list with 271

    • Halifax forward Dawson Theede (Brooklin, Ont.) needs five points to reach 100

    • Las Vegas forward Rob Hellyer (Lions Head, Ont.) needs seven assists to reach 500

    • Philadelphia forward Mitch Jones (Delta, B.C.) needs six points to reach 600

    • Saskatchewan forward Robert Church (Coquitlam, B.C.) needs six points to reach 800

    • Vancouver forward Kevin Crowley (New Westminster, B.C.) needs four assists to reach 500

Schedule – Week 18 (All Times Eastern)

Tonight

  • Saskatchewan Rush (5-8) at Philadelphia Wings (5-8), 7 p.m., ESPN+, TSN+, NBC Sports Philadelphia (Smith, Gabrielsen, McGuinness)

Saturday

  • Buffalo Bandits (7-7) at Philadelphia Wings (5-8*), 1 p.m., NLL Saturday Showcase, ESPN+, TSN+, CW23, Philly57 (Abbott, Shanahan, Docking)
  • Halifax Thunderbirds (8-7) at Rochester Knighthawks (6-7), 7 p.m., ESPN+, TSN+, CW Rochester (Rybczynski, McDaniels, Mossbrooks)
  • Vancouver Warriors (5-9) at Las Vegas Desert Dogs (4-10), 10 p.m., ESPN+, TSN+, Fox5 Las Vegas (Kanell, Elliott, Werth)

*pending Thursday result

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