The results from the start of this NLL season have shaken up the power rankings more than any other season in recent memory. The Buffalo Bandits, San Diego Seals and Calgary Roughnecks have a combined 2-4 record through the first three weeks, and the Albany FireWolves, Rochester Knighthawks and Panther City Lacrosse Club have a combined record of 6-1 in that span. If you predicted that those teams would have win-loss records like that through the first three weeks of the season, go buy yourself a lottery ticket.
Now remember, the season is still very young. There are still 18 weeks of games remaining, so if your team isn’t ranked where you want them to be, there’s plenty of time for them to make their case for the top spot!
Here are this week’s rankings heading into Week 4 action.
The Mammoth head into Week 4 still battling plenty of injuries, and that might cost them another win this coming weekend against the same Georgia Swarm that they lost to in Week 2 16-10. Without Dillon Ward, the cornerstone of their team, and many battered defensemen unable to suit up for action, in Week 2 it was difficult to keep the ball out of their net. This will likely continue to be the case if they don’t get healthy. Having said that, never discount the impact that guys on offense like Eli McLaughlin, Zed Williams and Connor Robinson can have on the outcome of a game. And you know that captain Robert Hope is always going to do everything he can to rally his men on the floor. Stay laser focused to this week’s injury report to see which Mammoth team you’re going to get this weekend.
#7 – Vancouver Warriors (1-1)
Week 3Result: 15-7 win vs. Georgia Swarm Week 4Opponent:at Rochester Knighthawks (2-0) Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Vancouver arguably just secured their most significant win since the team changed their ownership group ahead of the 2018-19 season. In Week 3, they beat the Swarm at home 15-7. It was the team’s largest home victory in the last five years, and one of their largest victories overall in that span. They scored 11 goals in the second half, which is an impressive feat on its own, but it’s particularly impressive for this Warriors team who have been much better in first halves since the start of the 2018-19 season. Aaron Bold and the defense were consistently very good throughout the game, and notably finished the game as well as they started it. From breakout big-game baller Ryan Martel to the hometown boy Kevin Crowley having his first standout game with the Warriors to head coach Curt Malawsky earning his first win with his new club, the blueprint for Week 3 will be one the Warriors will want to replicate going forward for the remainder of the season.
One of the most difficult parts of this job is figuring out how to deal with teams that had a bye week, while much of the league is out picking up key wins and making their case to move up the rankings. This was one of those weekends where a team that had the weekend off takes a hit just because other teams won big games. The Knighthawks still appear to be playoff-worthy with Connor Fields making another case for league MVP and Riley Hutchcraft stepping up when his team needs him in between the pipes. Their heart and resilience is truly what sets them apart and their 2nd half comebacks have been nothing short of heroic. The Knighthawks have had a week off to watch and prepare for a Warriors team that is now full of confidence. With the Warriors right behind them in the power rankings, there is plenty on the line in this early season matchup. Can the Knighthawks start back-to-back seasons going 3-0? With the way this team is playing in second halves so far this season, you just can’t count this team out during any match.
#5 – San Diego Seals (1-1)
Week 3Result: 9-12 loss at Buffalo Bandits Week 4Opponent:Bye Week Previous Ranking: 2nd
The Seals had the chance to take the #1 spot in Week 3. Had the Seals stolen a victory in Buffalo on championship banner night in front of 17,200 fans that hated their guts, they would’ve been at the top of this list. After the first half this weekend’s game, that looked like a real possibility. However, their second half performance was very un-Seals like offensively. I said it last year when the Seals weren’t putting up a ton of goals and I’ll say it again this season, because even they weren’t happy with their lack of offensive production in some games last season: When you have Curtis Dickson, Dane Dobbie, Wes Berg and Austin Staats, three goals in any half is not coming close to what those guys are there to do. Trevor Baptiste has been a very welcome addition at the face-off dot and Jake Govett is continuing to improve. Kyle Jackson is in the process of finding his NLL rhythm again, and the kid in net, Christopher Origlieri, is in the earliest stages of showing the world just how good he can potentially be in net. This team is not going to be a stranger to this list, and you should expect them to come out of the gates blazing when they return to action in Week 5.
#4 – Toronto Rock (1-0)
Week 3Result: Bye Week Week 4Opponent: at Panther City Lacrosse Club (1-1) Previous Ranking: 1st
This one is difficult to write because the Rock are still NLL Cup contenders and some might say they are the best team in the league. Sadly, much like the Knighthawks in this week’s rankings, the three teams ahead of the Rock all did a very good job making a case that they deserve a bump up the list right now. The Rock are the Rock, and yet despite missing Chris Corbeil on the backend, they still held the Philadelphia Wings to seven goals in Week 2 – that is not easy to do. The smothering, physical defensive duo of Mitch de Snoo and Brad Kri look in peak form again this year, Nick Rose is still a brick wall in net, and Mark Matthews is seamlessly fitting in to his new team and is showing the world that he hasn’t lost a step. This is one of the most well-rounded teams in the NLL, and if they keep on going like they started in Week 2, they are going to be a serious problem for any team in the league going forward.
#3 – Albany FireWolves (3-0)
Week 3Result: 15-10 win at Philadelphia Wings Week 4Opponent:Bye Week Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
The Albany FireWolves are the feel good story of the NLL so far this season. Last season, the team had three total wins. Now, they are 3-0 to start this season. It hasn’t mattered who they’ve faced or what’s been thrown at them, the youngest team in the NLL is taking it to the older guys, and it’s been mesmerizing to watch. After beating the Bandits 17-13 in Week 2, it felt like this team was bound to come back to reality against the Philadelphia Wings in Week 3, but that simply wasn’t the case. Aside from a brief spurt of collective success for the Wings in the first half, the FireWolves controlled the game despite being on the road. Their offense is playing some incredible team ball right now, the defense is frustrating their opponents, and Doug Jamieson is looking similar to his 2020 NLL Goaltender of the Year self. Beating the Wings the way they did a week after beating the Bandits began to prove that Week 2’s result wasn’t a stroke of luck. It’s too bad the FireWolves have the week off in Week 4 because they are the hottest team in the league right now.
#2 – Halifax Thunderbirds (2-0)
Week 3 Result: 14-6 win at New York Riptide Week 4Opponent:Bye Week Previous Ranking:4th
Halifax is a scary team out on the floor. They have a deep, balanced offense, a hounding defense, and a top-tier goaltender. They also have of the best, and most versatile face-off man in the NLL in Jake Withers. They look like they can step up and deliver in any moment so far this season. They did it in Week 1 and they did it again in Week 2. Sure, they beat the New York Riptide, who are in the midst of trying to find how they can become a playoff contender one day, but the Thunderbirds didn’t just beat the Riptide, they took them to school. From start to finish, the Thunderbirds had complete control of the game and had no problem snagging the road victory in convincing fashion. Randy Staats, Cody Jamieson, Ryan Benesch, Graeme Hossack, Tyson Bell, Warren Hill. Just listing the team’s results this season and the guys on the roster should be enough to explain to you why the Thunderbirds are currently #2 on the list.
#1 – Buffalo Bandits (1-1)
Week 3Result: 12-9 win vs. San Diego Seals Week 4 Opponent:Bye Week Previous Ranking:3rd
The defending NLL champions beat one of the best teams in the league in Week 3, and they did so after coming from behind and controlling the game for the final 36 minutes. It’s not easy to beat the Seals, but the Bandits did that. Their signature defense and future hall of fame goaltender, Matt Vinc, played championship-winning caliber lacrosse in the second half of their 12-9 win against the Seals. I got to see the Bandits walk to the locker room after their shocking Week 2 loss against the FireWolves, and what I saw was a team that looked like they were never going to let another team beat them again. So far, so good on that mission, and what an emphatic way to make a comeback statement. We know what the Bandits are capable of because they’ve been the winningest team in the NLL over the last few years. Just remember, last season they lost their first game to the FireWolves, yet went on to win the championship. It’s not farfetched to think that won’t happen again this season.
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