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Week 14 Power Rankings

Week 13, thanks for an amazing weekend! Big time performances and intriguing matchups headlined a jam-packed three days of lacrosse action where we saw the cream of the crop rise to the top. The results ran the gambit from domination and clear-cut victories to an OT thriller that very well might end up being the Game of the Year. There’s less than two months for teams to make their final cases to end up at the top of the power rankings, but, after a busy weekend, where do teams sit in this week’s rankings?

 

#8 – Georgia Swarm (6-6)

Week 13 Result: 12-11 loss at San Diego Seals, 10-9 loss at Panther City Lacrosse Club
Week 14 Opponent: at Halifax Thunderbirds (7-4)
Previous Ranking: 7th

It’s going to be tough for the Georgia Swarm to recover from this weekend. It’s hard to lose two games in the same weekend in equally heartbreaking fashion. The Swarm narrowly lost in OT to one of the best teams in the league and then they shockingly lost in the last moments two days later to PCLC. Make no mistake, Georgia almost came out of this difficult weekend on the road with two wins. Brett Dobson was excellent all weekend long and the team played with heart for a full 60 minutes, twice. The Swarm now head to Halifax (another difficult task) to face a surging team on a mission. With only six games left on their schedule, every game holds so much meaning. Grabbing a big road win against the league’s current hottest team would be a fantastic way for them to start their final stretch of the season.

 

#7 – Panther City Lacrosse Club (5-4)

Week 13 Result: 10-9 win vs. Georgia Swarm
Week 14 Opponent: vs. San Diego Seals (7-3), vs. Rochester Knighthawks (3-6)
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Following a brief unwanted vacation outside of the Top 8, Panther City is back on this list thanks to their resilient effort in Sunday afternoon’s W against Georgia. PCLC have now won two games in a row with a chance to make it four in a row if they can beat the Seals and Knighthawks in Week 14. After Week 13 action, Panther City now ranks in the Top 5 in both goals for and goals against this season, and their goaltender Nick Damude has the fifth-best goals against average. Panther City started their season 1-3, but have since won four of their last five games. Let’s see if they can continue this hot streak during the second half of their season. Their two games in Week 14 should tell us quite a bit about what we can expect.

Jason Knox. Georgia Swarm vs Panther City 02-25-2024 (Photo: Colleen Shaw/NLL)

 

#6 – Buffalo Bandits (5-5)

Week 13 Result: 13-10 loss vs. Albany FireWolves
Week 14 Opponent: at Vancouver Warriors (2-8)
Previous Ranking: 4th

The Buffalo Bandits lose again. They now have five losses this season, which is the most losses they’ve had in one season since the 2017-18 campaign. Outside of Dhane Smith and Josh Byrne, no other player has more than 35 points and the defense and goaltending are stuck in a rut that we haven’t seen from this team in a handful of years. At the moment, the Bandits are barely hanging on to a playoff spot (they are currently the 7thseed). Yet, these are the defending champion Bandits coached by John Tavares, how can we count them out of any serious playoff or even NLL Cup conversation? We can’t forget that they’ve beaten the Seals and the Rock this year.

 

#5 – Calgary Roughnecks (5-5)

Week 13 Result: 14-11 win vs. Philadelphia Wings
Week 14 Opponent: at Philadelphia Wings (3-6)
Previous Ranking: 8th

The Roughnecks are the hottest team in the NLL (by winning streak). Following their 14-11 home victory against the Philadelphia Wings in Week 13, the Roughnecks have now won three consecutive games. In that stretch, they’ve beaten the Wings, the Thunderbirds and the Toronto Rock and they are averaging 14 goals per game, while allowing only 10.6 goals per game. Jesse King is emerging as an MVP dark horse and Christian Del Bianco is looking more and more like his Goaltender of the Year self. Considering the caliber of their recent wins, this is a team you definitely do not want to mess with right now.

CALGARY, AB – February 24, 2024: The Calgary Roughnecks versus the Philadelphia Wings at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night. (Photo by Eric Boldt/Calgary Roughnecks)

 

#4 – Albany FireWolves (8-2)

Week 13 Result: 13-10 win at Buffalo Bandits
Week 14 Opponent: vs. New York Riptide (5-6)
Previous Ranking: 5th

I’m sure some people reading this will think I have soup for brains for having the FireWolves at #4 despite their league-best 8-2 record. Nevertheless, the league’s surprise team of the year comes in at a very respectable position this week. Doug Jamieson was a star in net and on offense – it’s still wild that he scored a goal – and the FireWolves earned a very significant victory against the Bandits (again) clinching the season series between the two New York teams. Rookie Tye Kurtz notched his first career sock trick and Joe Nardella quietly continued his epic return to the floor after missing the entirety of last year. This team never quits; they play tough and unafraid. The FireWolves tremendous story rolls despite their speed bump two-game losing streak a few weeks ago. If you don’t already: Fear the FireWolves.

BUFFALO, NY – FEBRUARY 24: Members of the Albany FireWolves go for a loose ball (Photo by Mike Hetzel/NLL)

 

#3 – Halifax Thunderbirds (7-4)

Week 13 Results: 19-6 win at Saskatchewan Rush
Week 14 Opponent: vs. Georgia Swarm (6-6)
Previous Ranking: 3rd

Had the Thunderbirds not lost by six goals to the Calgary Roughnecks in Week 12, they would’ve been #1 in my rankings this week following an absolutely dominant performance on the road against the Rush, who are nearing win-now mode. The 13-goal difference was the Thunderbirds’ largest road victory in franchise history and it was nearly the most lopsided win in franchise history, period. Warren Hill had the big bounce-back performance he needed after back-to-back shaky starts in the two games prior. The offense was on fire: they nearly shot 25% on the night (that’s on their total shots, not just shots on goal). And it wasn’t just a one-man effort on the attack. The Thunderbirds had five multi-goal scorers and 10 players in total who found the back of the net. They never let up either. The Thunderbirds scored five or more goals in the first three quarters, and then decided to tack on three more in the fourth for good measure. This was a wildly good game for the Thunderbirds.

 

#2 – San Diego Seals (7-3)

Week 13 Result: 12-11 OT win vs. Georgia Swarm
Week 14 Opponents: at Panther City Lacrosse Club (4-4), vs. Toronto Rock (8-2)
Previous Ranking: 2nd

The Seals’ 12-11 OT win versus the Swarm was one of their gutsiest wins in a while. The Seals had the lead in this game for less than eight minutes and were down by multiple goals on a few occasions, yet still found a way to win. Wes Berg was the sock-trick hero, but let’s be honest, it takes a full team effort to make multiple comebacks in the span of 60 minutes. Trevor Baptiste was great at face-offs again, Chris Origlieri and the defense allowed only one goal in the final 20 minutes of game time, and even players that aren’t named Wes Berg found ways to contribute to the team’s character-building win despite not finding the back of the net often. This was a Seals win that proved no matter how many times you try and stop them, they’re still going to find a way to get the W.

 

#1 – Toronto Rock (8–2)

Week 13 Result: 9-5 win vs. Vancouver Warriors
Week 14 Opponents: at Las Vegas Desert Dogs (4-6), at San Diego Seals (7-3)
Previous Ranking: 1st

The Toronto Rock found a way to beat the Vancouver Warriors by four goals in Week 13, despite having a laundry list of injuries. The Rock were without Mitch de Snoo, Challen Rogers, Dan Craig and Josh Jubenville, but still outperformed the visitors in the second half to grab the W. If there’s one thing this win showed the rest of the league, it’s just how much depth they have on their roster. We saw young guys like Phil Mazzuca, Justin Martin and Chris Weier step up to the plate when their team needed them the most. Oh, and that guy Nick Rose had another big night, stopping 45 shots in the game, while only surrendering two goals in the first half and three goals in the second half. The Rock will need to be fully healthy to make a deep playoff run, but, man, it seems no matter who they have out on the floor, they find ways to win.

NLL