#1 – Buffalo Bandits (9-2)
Week 14 Result: 10-9 win vs Halifax
Week 15 Opponent: vs Halifax (5-6)
Previous Ranking: 2nd
The Bandits are back on top. By holding off the Thunderbirds in Week 14, the Bandits took back the top spot in the power rankings – the Bandits were last in the driver’s seat of the rankings back in Week 12. Over the last couple of weeks, despite a multitude of significant injuries, the Bandits have found a way to win. Their last two wins have each been by only one goal, but they have managed to extend their winning streak to five games. Dhane Smith is an MVP frontrunner and Matt Vinc keeps pulling tricks out of his bag to stifle the opposition. In Week 15, the Bandits face the Thunderbirds for the third and final time this season. If they can pull off a win at home at KeyBank Center, they will sweep the season-series against their East Conference rival. The game is on Friday night which means if the Bandits do win, they’ll be the first team in the NLL to 10 wins this season.
#2 – Toronto Rock (9-3)
Week 14 Results: 9-8 win vs Rochester, 11-10 loss at Philadelphia
Week 15 Opponent: vs Albany (2-8)
Previous Ranking: 1st
Had the Rock won both of their games this weekend, they would’ve maintained their #1 ranking, but the Wings had other plans. The Knighthawks almost spoiled those plans even more. It was heart-stopping weekend for Rock fans who saw their club fight tooth and nail in each of their highly competitive contests in Week 14. The Knighthawks Rylan Hartley was almost too much for the Rock offense. The Rock’s nine goals scored was their third-fewest this season and the other two instances happened very early in the year when the Rock seemed to still be trying to put the ball in the back of the net with consistency. The Rock did make a valiant comeback attempt in their loss to the Wings on the road, but the new-look Wings finished strong and held on for their second win of the weekend. The Rock have a chance to regroup and find their offensive groove again against the struggling FireWolves. With six games remaining for the season, a dominating and complete game against a team that they should beat will boost their confidence heading into this final stretch.
#3 – San Diego Seals (7-2)
Week 14 Result: 15-12 win vs Las Vegas
Week 15 Opponent: at Saskatchewan (5-5)
Previous Ranking: 4th
The Seals were oh so close to earning the #2 spot for this weekend’s rankings. Their 15-12 victory over the Desert Dogs in Week 14 was not only historic – it being the first ever win in an outdoor professional box lacrosse game – but it was also their most complete and balanced performance of the season. The Seals have the offensive firepower to beat teams in so many different ways, but last weekend’s win showed you just how good they can be when a handful of guys start going off. It was also the best performance from Frank Scigliano that we’ve seen this season. Coming on in relief of Christopher Origlieri, Scigliano made 30 saves and surrendered only eight goals in more than 47 minutes in between the pipes. The defense in front of him was also very good as they allowed the Desert Dogs to only reach 43 shots on goal and caused more than a dozen caused turnovers. The Seals now head to Saskatchewan with their season series on the line (it is currently tied 1-1). These West Conference rivals are separated in the standings by a mere 2.5 games, so this game means A LOT. If the Seals can move to 8-2, it will match their best 10-game start to a season since they did it last year. That’s a lot of winning early on in the year!
#4 – Rochester Knighthawks (8-3)
Week 14 Result: 9-8 loss vs Toronto
Week 15 Opponent: at Georgia (2-7)
Previous Ranking: 3rd
The Knighthawks drop to the 4th spot for Week 15, but let’s not kid ourselves: had they beaten the Toronto Rock in enemy territory, this team could’ve maybe been back in the #1 spot. Behind Hartley’s franchise record-setting 56-save outing, the Knighthawks back line held the potent Rock offense to just nine goals. Unfortunately, their own offense couldn’t solve Nick Rose, who was there every step of the way to match Hartley. Three of the seven games remaining games for the Knighthawks are against the surging Wings, but they also play Georgia (twice) and Albany, as well. If the Knighthawks can keep their momentum from the previous weeks going, they are still going to be within reaching distant of possibly snagging the East Conference title.
#5 – Calgary Roughnecks (7-4)
Week 14 Result: Bye
Week 15 Opponent: at Colorado (5-5)
Previous Ranking: 5th
The Roughnecks didn’t play in Week 14, but they’re back for Week 15 action. This final stretch of games for the Roughnecks is going to test them mentally, physically and emotionally. All of their remaining games are against West Conference rivals that are either currently holding onto a playoff position or are right on the outside looking in. Six of their seven remaining games are against either Panther City, Saskatchewan or Colorado (all teams with records of .500 or better). The other game is against the Desert Dogs, who beat them in Week 13, and who definitely aren’t playing like a 4-6 team. In Week 15, the Roughnecks are playing the Mammoth with the season-series on the line. If they can edge out their fierce West rivals inside the Loud House, that will have major playoff implications.
Next 3 In (in alphabetical order)
Panther City Lacrosse Club (7-5)
Week 14 Result: 16-10 win vs Saskatchewan
Week 15 Opponent: Bye
Previous Ranking: Next 3 In
You could make the case that Panther City should be ranked in the #5 spot. They have won five of their last seven games and they battled with the West Conference-leading Seals until the final whistle – a game that Callum Crawford didn’t play in, by the way. They are 4-1 in games where Callum Crawford played in and their last two wins have been decisive victories (both were six-goal wins). Goaltender Nick Damude is flying under-the-radar as one of the league’s better goaltenders this year. Damude has a 79.1% save percentage and is allowing 10.17 goals per game. He is so close to being one of only three goaltenders in the NLL this season to have a GAA under 10 and a save percentage of over 80%. This team is playing unselfish, exciting lacrosse right now. They are currently sitting in the third spot in the West, so they control their own fate when it comes to securing their first ever playoff berth.
Philadelphia Wings (5-5)
Week 14 Results: 19-12 win vs New York, 11-10 win vs Toronto
Week 14 Opponent: at New York (2-9)
Previous Ranking: N/A
The Wings look like one of the teams you don’t want to face right now. They have won three of their last four games. In Week 14, they won two games, including beating the then-9-2 Rock. That hot streak coincides with when they picked up Mitch Jones. The one loss in that stretch was against the Buffalo Bandits, and that game went to overtime. In their first of two games in Week 14, the Wings scored 19 goals, which tied the franchise record that was set back in April, 2019. While he hasn’t had his best season, Zach Higgins is one of the most capable goalies in the East. If he can find his groove again (like he did against the Rock with 50+ saves) and this offense can continue to click, not to mention what we’re seeing from Kiel Matisz in transition – that highlight reel goal was just the cherry on the cake – this team is one you don’t want to go toe-to-toe with.
Saskatchewan Rush (5-5)
Week 14 Result: 16-10 loss vs Panther City
Week 15 Opponent: vs San Diego (7-2)
Previous Ranking: Next 3 In
The Rush suffered a strong shot to stomach in Week 14. Losing by six is uncommon for this team – it just was the sixth time in the last five seasons that they’ve lost by six or more goals. They have now allowed 16 goals in back-to-back games, which is yet another uncommon occurrence. The last time that they allowed more than 32 goals in back-to-back games was in February of 2019. The Rush have benefitted from Alex Buque having a particularly good season, but if they keep allowing goals at this clip, it’s hard to imagine how they would make it into the postseason with the West being as competitive as it is. A signature win against San Diego in Week 15, which would give them the season-series, would definitely help turn things around quick!