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Week 15 Power Rankings

I think we can all agree: We need more weekends with nine NLL games. Friday’s four games set the table for an amazing weekend, and then Saturday went ahead and tried to one-up the night before with another four games, including another Game of the Year contender. Sunday’s offensive shootout ended the weekend on a high night. But, the big question to come out of the busiest weekend of the NLL season so far was: How did all the action impact this week’s power rankings? Let’s find out.

 

#8 – Philadelphia Wings (4-6)

Week 14 Result: 11-9 win vs. Calgary Roughnecks
Week 15 Opponent: vs. Panther City Lacrosse Club (5-6)
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

The Wings make it into the Top 8 this week because they were incredibly resilient and composed when it mattered most in Week 14. They found a way to grind out a win (their first home win of the season) against a surging Roughnecks team, and they have now won two of their last three games. Zach Higgins played a big role in that with his third 50+ save game of the year, including shutting out the Roughnecks in the fourth quarter. The Wings also had five goals from five different players in the fourth and ended the day with three players having five points each. The Wings have four of their next five games at home (all in March), so their March to May can get a big boost from their passionate home fans all month long.

 

#7 – Saskatchewan Rush (4-5)

Week 14 Result: 15-7 win at Colorado Mammoth
Week 15 Opponent: at Buffalo Bandits (5-6)
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

The Saskatchewan Rush started their busy month of March with a bang. The Rush play six games this month, and I’ll say this: If they continue to play like they did against the Colorado Mammoth in Week 14, they will be in the hunt to host a playoff game this postseason. The thing about the Rush in recent years, though, is that they’ll have a lopsided win like this, but then won’t be able to string many more together after them. The seven goals against on Saturday night was one of their best defensive and goaltending efforts of the year. If you look at pretty much any team stat from their game against the Mammoth, whether it be loose balls recovered, shots on goals, turnovers – it doesn’t matter – the Rush did it better. More importantly, we’ve been seeing the Rush do it better over their last few games (outside of their fluke ginormous loss to the Thunderbirds). The Rush have now won three of their last four games, and seem poised for a fierce playoff push during this final stretch of the season.

 

#6 – Calgary Roughnecks (5-6)

Week 14 Result: 11-9 loss at Philadelphia Wings
Week 15 Opponent: at Georgia Swarm (7-6)
Previous Ranking: 5th

After three quarters in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, it really felt like the Roughnecks were going to pull off the road victory against the Wings. The Roughnecks were up 9-6, and the Wings hadn’t scored for more than 25 minutes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. The Wings stormed back and won the game to give the Roughnecks a punch in the gut and their first loss since February 3rd. Nevertheless, the Roughnecks that we’ve seen over the last month look more like the team we expected them to be this season. Next to the Buffalo Bandits, I think the Roughnecks are the best team that currently have a losing record.

March 2, 2024: Calgary Roughnecks vs the Philadelphia Wings at Wells Fargo Center. (Photo: Heather Barry)

 

#5 – Georgia Swarm (7-6)

Week 14 Result: 12-11 win at Halifax Thunderbirds
Week 15 Opponent: vs. Calgary Roughnecks (5-6)
Previous Ranking: 8th

The Swarm benefit this week not only because of their win against the Halifax Thunderbirds, but also because the teams ahead of them lost this weekend. Now, it’s not always that simple to say if a team wins they should move up and if a team loses they should move down, but in this case, I believe the Swarm’s win in Week 14 was one of their more impressive wins of the season (considering who they faced and where they played). Had the Swarm held the Thunderbirds to six goals for the entire game instead of for 50 minutes, we might be having a different conversation about just how significant this win was. The Swarm have been hot and cold this season, but this was a win that seemed like it might snowball into a very positive streak during the team’s March to May.

 

#4 – Halifax Thunderbirds (7-5)

Week 14 Result: 12-11 loss vs. Georgia Swarm
Week 15 Opponent: at San Diego Seals (8-4)
Previous Ranking: 3rd

Halifax took a tough L in Week 14. The opening 50 minutes of their game against the Georgia Swarm didn’t go according to plan, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and those last 10 minutes almost won them the game. Following their four-game win streak, the Thunderbirds are now 1-2 in their last three contests. Coming off one of their largest wins in franchise history, the result wasn’t ideal, but they can make a huge statement by going into San Diego in Week 15 and showing one of the league’s best teams what they’re made of. The Thunderbirds have the pieces to be one of the league’s top teams, it’s just about putting everything together week-in and week-out for a full 60 minutes.

Georgia vs Halifax 03-01-2024 (Photo: James Bennett)

 

#3 – San Diego Seals (8-4)

Week 14 Results: 10-9 OT win at Panther City Lacrosse Club, 15-13 loss vs. Toronto Rock
Week 15 Opponent: vs. Halifax Thunderbirds (7-5)
Previous Ranking: 2nd

The San Diego Seals are fun to watch. From end-to-end, the Seals don’t have any glaring holes. There are nights that they are beatable (like Saturday night or the three other nights this season they had losses), but they are few and far between, especially when the team is running on all cylinders. Wes Berg and Austin Staats are arguably the best duo in the NLL this season, Kyle Rubisch has anchored a talented defensive unit, and the young Chris Origlieri has consistently shown that he deserves to be in the conversation for Goaltender of the Year. On Friday they fought tooth-and-nail for a gritty win, and they did everything they could on Saturday against the Rock to do the same (without the same success). Nevertheless, the Seals effort and performance against the Rock showcased just how good this team can be. Imagine they put together that performance against any other team and they weren’t playing on the second night of a back-to-back. This Seals team definitely look poised to do something big this year, particularly once the playoffs start in late April.

Wesley Berg. Toronto Rock v. San Diego Seals 03-02-2024 (Photo: Jake Whiting)

 

#2 – Albany FireWolves (9-2)

Week 14 Result: 14-8 win vs. New York Riptide
Week 15 Opponents: vs. Vancouver Warriors (3-8), at Rochester Knighthawks (4-6)
Previous Ranking: 4th

There are some out there that might say having Albany up near the top here is long overdue, and that’s fair. Following their decisive 14-8 victory against the New York Riptide, the Albany FireWolves are now 9-2 on the year. 9-2. They still have seven games left this season, but if they win one more game, they’ll have their most wins for one season in franchise history going back to when the team went 10-8 as the New England Black Wolves during the 2016 season. Doug Jamieson was electric again with another 40+ save effort, the offense spread the love, and the underrated defense had another solid performance. After Week 14 action, the FireWolves have the third-lowest goals against average in the league at 10.27, and they are allowing the fifth-fewest shots against in the league per game at 71.27. With two games in Week 15, if the FireWolves win both games, don’t be surprised if you see them at the top of next week’s rankings.

 

#1 – Toronto Rock (10–2)

Week 14 Results: 16-11 win at Las Vegas Desert Dogs, 15-13 win at San Diego Seals
Week 15 Opponents: vs. Colorado Mammoth (4-8)
Previous Ranking: 1st

For the third week in a row, the Toronto Rock sit at the top of the rankings. After a 2-0 weekend, including a clutch win against the San Diego Seals, I can’t imagine this being much of a surprise to anyone. Mark Matthews continued his blazing hot stretch with three goals and 14 assists over the weekend (he has 33 points over his last four games), Chris Boushy had a seven-goal night on Friday, Tom Schreiber notched his first hat trick of the season on Saturday, and Josh Dawick and Corey Small stayed hot as well. On Friday night, the Rock defense helped Nick Rose out so that he only needed to make 27 saves, and on Saturday night, Rose and the defense only allowed three goals in the second half against San Diego – the Seals didn’t score a goal in the final 9:49 of game time. The Rock are a great team and they have been playing great lacrosse all season long. Week 14 was the latest example of that.

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