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Week 10 Power Rankings

We’re almost at the halfway point of this season, and I think it’s fair to say that we have no idea who is going to end up in this year’s playoffs. It’s also not clear who the outright favorite is to win the NLL Cup. There has been so much parity in the league this season that it feels like anything could happen. In trying to make sense of it all, here’s where the Top 8 teams sit in this week’s power rankings.

 

#8 – New York Riptide (3–4)

Week Result: 14-11 win vs. Georgia Swarm
Week 10 Opponent: at Calgary Roughnecks (2-3)
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

For the first time in franchise history, the New York Riptide are in the league’s power rankings. After beating the Swarm 14-11 in front of an energetic crowd of nearly 5,000 attendees, the Riptide have now won three of their last four games – this is only the second time in franchise history that they’ve done that. They’ve beaten the Buffalo Bandits (on the road), the Philadelphia Wings (on the road) and the Georgia Swarm (at home) during that streak. The team’s offense has been electric, scoring 57 goals over those four games (14.25 goals per game). Stephen Keogh has been a very welcome addition on offense. Reilly OConnor, Connor Kearnan and Jeff Teat have been a dominant trio in this stretch. Rookie Callum Jones and Ron John are having standout seasons on defense with Cam Dunkerley finding his stride against a few potent offenses. Most importantly, in Week 9, the Riptide showed us that they can play tough with a lead. This Riptide team is on a great run, and they’re having fun doing it.

 

#7 – Georgia Swarm (4-4)

Week 9 Result: 14-11 loss at New York Riptide
Week 10 Opponent: vs. Vancouver Warriors (2-5)
Previous Ranking: 4th

The Swarm are in the midst of an unfortunate rut. After starting their season with a 4-1 record, the Swarm have now lost three in a row. All three losses have been by three goals or more and the offense has only scored an average of 9.3 goals in that span. Unfortunately for the Swarm, emerging star goaltender Brett Dobson is battling through a rough mini-stretch right now. Over his last six quarters, Dobson has allowed 23 goals (3.8 goals per quarter). The team is not where they need to be at the moment, and they can’t let this streak snowball. If the Swarm lose to the Vancouver Warriors in Week 10, the losing streak will extend to four games. That would be only the third Swarm losing streak of four or more games since the team moved to Georgia for the 2016 season.

 

#6 – Halifax Thunderbirds (3-3)

Week Result: 13-8 win vs. Rochester Knighthawks
Week 10 Opponent: at Philadelphia Wings (2-4)
Previous Ranking: 7th

Are the Halifax Thunderbirds from the first few weeks of this season back? The team’s 13-8 victory against the Rochester Knighthawks surely made it feel like that’s the case. The eight goals allowed was the second-fewest goals they’ve allowed in a game this season, and they did it against the league’s most potent offense – prior to their Week 9 loss, the Knighthawks were averaging a league best 14 goals per game. Jake Withers continued having his MVP-worthy season, Ryan Benesch continued to defy father time, and the defense and transition teams exhibited why they are considered one of the best in the league all game long. Goaltender Warren Hill also stepped up in a big way making 42 saves and only allowing three goals to men not named Connor Fields or Ryan Smith (the Knighthawks Top 2 goal-scorers this season).

 

#5 – Panther City Lacrosse Club (3-3)

Week 9 Results: 21-12 win at Las Vegas Desert Dogs
Week 10 Opponent: at Saskatchewan Rush (1-4)
Previous Ranking: 6th

I’ve been making the case that Panther City has deserved to be in these power rankings for a few weeks now. In Week 9, they helped me feel vindicated. For any team to score 21 goals in a game is incredible. In fact, it’s only the third time in the last five years that a team has scored 21 or more goals. Callum Crawford is on pace for 69 goals this season at 39 years old in his 18th NLL season. Their 12.63 goals per game are the fourth-best in the league and their 11.17 goals against is the sixth-best in the league. Nick Damude’s 10.88 goals against average and his 78.8% save percentage are both above average. Defenders in front of Damude, such as Connor Sellars, are having career years – Sellars is on pace to set career-highs in loose ball recoveries, caused turnovers and blocked shots. The big question for Panther City is this: Can they use this historic franchise win as a jumping off point to continue to improve and finish the last two-thirds of the season with purpose and tenacity like they showed they could in Week 9?

#4 – Buffalo Bandits (4-3)

Week 9 Result: 16-14 win at Toronto Rock
Week 10 Opponent: vs. Rochester Knighthawks (3-3)
Previous Ranking: 4th

The Bandits are back? Well, a 16-14 win over their fiercest rivals, the Toronto Rock, definitely makes a case that they are. The Bandits scored seven goals in a quarter against the usually dominant Rock defense not once, but twice on Saturday evening. And defensively, they shut the Rock out in the first quarter, and held them scoreless during the first 13 minutes of the fourth quarter, all while they went on a seven-goal run. With wins against the Rock and the San Diego Seals so far this season, the Bandits have shown they can step up to the occasion when they’re facing the league’s best. It’s been the other games, those ones that you would think were winnable for the Bandits that have given them some trouble. Is this Week 9 win the start of us seeing what we expect out of the Bandits, or was it just one big win? At 4-3, it’s important that the Bandits start to show us how they really are this season, because we all know what they’re capable of.

 

#3 – Albany FireWolves (6-1)

Week Result: Bye Week
Week 10 Opponent: vs. Las Vegas Desert Dogs (2-4)
Previous Ranking: 3rd

The Albany FireWolves had a Bye Week in Week 9, but they are back in action on Week 10. Their 6-1 record still has them sitting at the top of the standings heading into Week 10. The FireWolves have had this Bye Week to think about what happened in their 14-7 Week 8 loss at home to the San Diego Seals. If the FireWolves have found solutions to everything they feel they could’ve done better against the Seals, the Desert Dogs have a lot to be worried about, especially after giving up 21 goals themselves in Week 9.

 

#2 – Toronto Rock (5-1)

Week 9 Result: 16-14 loss vs. Buffalo Bandits
Week 10 Opponent: at Calgary Roughnecks (2-3)
Previous Ranking: 1st

The Rock drop one spot after being held scoreless in the first quarter, being down by as many as five in the second quarter, as many as six in the fourth quarter, being out battled on the loose balls by 17, beaten at the face-off dot, and outshot. The good news: they only lost by two goals to a Bandits’ team that is uber-talented and was desperately hungry for a win. More good news: this was the Rock’s first loss of the season. The Rock, like the Bandits and Seals, will likely be near the top of the standings when it matters the most. The return of Captain America, Tom Schreiber, will help that tremendously – he had two goals and four assists in his return to action and his season debut.

#1 – San Diego Seals (5-2)

Week Result: 12-11 win at Philadelphia Wings
Week 10 Opponent: vs. Colorado Mammoth (3-4)
Previous Ranking: 2nd

The San Diego Seals are at the top of the mountain. The way they closed out their Week 9 victory wasn’t ideal, but a road win is a road win. Wes Berg is in MVP-caliber form, Tre Leclaire is having a very impressive year, and the kid from Orangeville, Ontario, Chris Origlieri, is showing us that a 21 year old can go up against anyone. Who does he think he is? A young Christian Del Bianco? The Seals 10.14 goals against per game is the second-best in the NLL this season, so the goaltending and defense has been very reliable. What’s surprising is that the Seals’ offense is scoring 12 goals per game, which is about the league average. If their defense can continue to hold up and the offense can get into the form we all know it can, this is going to be a very scary team to watch over the next few months.

 

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