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Playoff Race Heats Up During Action Packed Week 16

A Bittersweet Night For the Rock

The NLL’s greatest rivals renewed acquaintances in downtown Buffalo on Saturday night, when the defending champion Bandits hosted the league’s best team, the juggernaut known as the Toronto Rock. 18,463 fans jammed KeyBank Center to watch these heavyweights battle it out, with the home fans hitting the exits in very good spirits thanks to a thrilling 14-12 Bandits triumph. Toronto owned a 10-7 third quarter lead before Buffalo turned on the afterburners and connected on seven of the game’s final nine scores to secure the two-goal conquest. 

Dhane Smith and Josh Byrne starred as usual, with the dynamic duo combining for five goals and nine assists. Chase Fraser, Ian MacKay and Tehoka Nanticoke collectively did their part, tallying a respectable two goals each. The Rock’s big performers came to play as usual with Corey Small notching four goals and two assists, Chris Boushy scoring four goals, Mark Matthews contributing two scores and four helpers, and Tom Schreiber posting one goal and an impressive five assists.

Despite going down in defeat, the Rock became the first team to clinch a playoff berth courtesy of the Philadelphia Wings’ win over the Georgia Swarm. 

 

The Knighthawks are Rocking and Rolling

The Rochester Knighthawks began the season 3-0, then proceeded to lose six consecutive games, with the 2023-2024 campaign suddenly appearing to be a huge disappointment. But just when it looked like all was lost, the Western New Yorkers successfully righted the ship and are now the proprietors of an even 6-6 mark, thanks to a three-game winning streak, including successive wins against the Albany FireWolves. In the wake of last week’s 18-12 accomplishment at BlueCross Arena, Rochester handed Albany an 11-10 defeat at MVP Arena on Saturday. The Knighthawks led the contest 9-4 in the third, but since it’s the NLL, the high-powered FireWolves decided to make a game of it, cutting the lead to 11-10 before getting denied their chance to tie it in the final seconds of the affair.

Coming off an 11-assist performance, Ryan Lanchbury followed things up with a three-goal, two-assist output. The red-hot Connor Fields kept up his scorching ways with an identical three-score, two-helper performance. Fields, the all-time leading scorer in the history of UAlbany, clearly enjoys putting on a show in his former stomping grounds.

Albany’s terrific trio of Alex Simmons, Ethan Walker and Tye Kurtz seared six combined goals, but it wasn’t enough to get the game to overtime. 

 

It’s Always Interesting When the Wings Take on the Swarm 

The Philadelphia Wings and Georgia Swarm are a closely matched pair of teams. How close, you say? Entering tonight, the clubs competed in seven straight one-goal games, with each and every gathering filled with high drama and even higher intensity. Unfortunately for Georgia, all good things must come to an end, and that was the case on Saturday as the visiting Philadelphia Wings handed the Swarm a convincing 13-8 drubbing. Mitch Jones was fantastic throughout, energizing Gas South Arena with four goals and five assists. Joe Resetarits, Ben McIntosh and Blaze Riorden further enriched the Wings with a grand total of six scores and 12 helpers. Philly keeper Zach Higgins also played a stellar game, saving 44 of 52 shots fired in his direction.

Shayne Jackson served as the lone super performer for the home team, ending his night with four goals and two assists. On the opposite side of the scale was Lyle Thompson, who only managed two assists on a night where his club looked overmatched by the now 5-7 guys from America’s birthplace. 

 

The Rush Survive A Big Night From Jeff Teat 

The final matchup of Week 16 commenced at the always festive SaskTel Centre, with Mr. Everything Jeff Teat leading his New York Riptide into Saskatoon for an encounter with the Rush. Despite Teat’s four-goal, four-assist spectacular, the home squad kept their foot on the pedal and vanquished the Long Islanders 17-15. Zach Manns posted three scores and two helpers, with the normally low-scoring pair of Jake Boudreau and Mike Triolo each throwing down unlikely hat tricks. Ryan Keenan added seven points for a Saskatchewan club that led 14-8 after 45 minutes of play, prior to giving up four uninterrupted Big Apple scores that dwindled the count to 14-12. From that point forward, the Rush rediscovered the formula that had gotten them there and staved off defeat.

In addition to Teat’s powers, Larson Sundown secured four goals and two assists, with Kiel Matisz fortifying three scores and two helpers.

More than 7,000 fans attended the St. Patrick’s Day Party in the shadows of Saskatoon International Airport. 

 

Eight Goals From Casey Jackson Isn’t Enough for Las Vegas

Friday night, Vancouver clung to a 13-12 dramatic victory over Las Vegas, with just shy of 10,000 spectators bearing witness to the action at Rogers Arena.

Friday marked the return of key players on both sides, as the Desert Dogs’ Marshal King played his first game this season after missing extended time coping with the tragic passing of his wife Emily. Emily decals were visible on each of his teammate’s helmets. The Warriors enjoyed the return of face-off specialist Tyrell Hamer-Jackson, back from injury.

In addition to the return of the above players, the most noteworthy occurrence of the evening came in the name of Vegas’ Casey Jackson, who somehow figured out a way to find the back of the net an astonishing eight times. That’s right! The British Columbia native scored eight of his team’s 12 goals, including a stretch of four consecutive scores in the second quarter.

On the winner’s side, Ryan Martel and Adam Charalambides each scored four, with Charalambides scoring the game-winner with under a minute remaining. Keegan Bal added a hat trick to the cause.

This was a game of runs with each franchise experiencing at least three consecutive bursts of goals a combined four times. Both teams played as hard as humanly possible, but only the Warriors left Rogers Arena with a win in their back pocket.

  

The Seals Join the Exclusive 10-Win Club

Two perennial western powers battled in downtown Calgary, as the visiting San Diego Seals set up shop at Scotiabank Saddledome, taking on the always dangerous Roughnecks. More than 14,000 Alberta box lacrosse fans were on hand for what turned out to be a hard-fought defensive struggle, in which the Seals outlasted the Roughnecks 7-6.

Deuces were wild in this one with San Diego’s Austin Staats, Wesley Berg and Tre Leclaire, along with Calgary’s Jesse King and Tanner Cook all scoring a pair of goals. With the exception of the above men, no player on either side was able to muster more than one change to the scoreboard. The Seals looked to be in great shape early, possessing a 4-0 first quarter lead and then a subsequent 6-2 reward at intermission. The second half went the Roughnecks way, with the squad connecting on four of the game’s five second-half scores and closing the gap to just one goal by the time the final horn sounded.

Both netminders played well in Calgary, with reigning MVP Christian Del Bianco getting in the way of 54 of 61 shots, and San Diego’s Christopher Origlieri subduing 35 of 41 attempts.

Friday night marked the return of 42-year-old Brodie Merrill, who came out of retirement to re-join his old team. In his first game back, the future hall of famer picked up two loose balls and caused one turnover.

CALGARY, AB – MARCH 15, 2024: The Calgary Roughnecks against the San Diego Seals at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday. (Photo by Jenn Pierce/NLL)

 

 The Thunderbirds Came Out of the Gate Fast

Week 16 of the NLL season debuted on the East Coast of Canada, with the Halifax Thunderbirds hosting the Panther City Lacrosse Club at Scotiabank Centre for the first time. More than 10,000 fans watched the home team lead wire-to-wire en route to a 13-9 victory. The Thunderbirds jumped out to a 6-1 lead at the end of the first quarter, followed up by a 10-2 advantage at half. After acting as bystanders through the first 30 minutes, the fellas from Fort Worth made things somewhat interesting in the third, blasting six consecutive goals and turning a blowout into a far more respectable 10-7 score heading into the fourth. Come the final 15, Halifax ended PCLC’s dream of an epic comeback when netting three uninterrupted scores of their own to start the period, shifting the contest into a comfortable win for the Nova Scotians.

Clarke Petterson and Austin Shanks each delivered hat tricks for the winners, with Jonathan Donville doing the very same for the group that came up short.

Despite 15 total penalties occurring in the game, the clubs were a combined 1 for 10 when being given the gift of a power play.

NLL