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Week 8 Power Rankings

#1 – Rochester Knighthawks (5-0)

Week 7 Result: 11-8 win at New York

Week 8 Opponent: vs Buffalo (4-1)

Previous Ranking: 2nd

Another week, another team at the top of the rankings. This week’s top selection, however, seems pretty clear cut. The Knighthawks are the lone remaining undefeated team in the NLL after cruising to an 11-8 win. Playing on the road in East Conference enemy territory during Week 7 action, the Knighthawks never trailed against the New York Riptide. The Knighthawks also held the Riptide to their 2nd-lowest offensive production (8 goals) this season. More specifically, outside of Callum Crawford, Larson Sundown and Connor Kearnan, the Knighthawks defense limited the rest of the Riptide’s roster to 1 goal.

#2 – Buffalo Bandits (4-1)

Week 7 Result: 11-9 win vs Georgia

Week 8 Opponent: at Rochester (5-0)

Previous Ranking: 1st

The Bandits are definitely looking like NLL Cup contenders again, even if they didn’t end up with the type of resounding win they would’ve liked to have against a winless team. Solid, consistent (and too often overlooked) defense and stellar goaltending have been the stars of the show since Week 1 (even in their 11-10 loss). However, over their past four games, the offense has been much more lively. Josh Byrne and Dhane Smith have been beyond elite through five games, but the help from the supporting cast, including the electric Tehoka Nanticoke are making this a very scary team to face right now. The heavyweight clash between the Bandits and the Knighthawks will in all likelihood determine next week’s #1 spot.

#3 – Colorado Mammoth (3-1)

Week 7 Result: 11-10 OT win vs Saskatchewan

Week 8 Opponent: Bye

Previous Ranking: Next 3 In

Colorado have won back-to-back low-scoring one goal games, and who’s really surprised? It’s what this defensive juggernaut of a team does. Over their last three games, the Mammoth have held their opponents to an average of nine goals per game and goaltender Dillon Ward have averaged 47 saves per game in that span. Still without Ryan Lee, we’re seeing different players emerge as scoring threats. Rhys Duch has been a very welcomed addition to the team and young talents such as Brett McIntyre are providing offensive help to the likes of expected outstanding studs Connor Robinson, Eli McLaughlin and Zed Williams. The fact that this team is winning the way we expected them to win games while still missing one of their star players has earned them a higher spot in the rankings.

#4 – San Diego Seals (4-1)

Week 7 Result: 14-10 loss at Calgary

Week 8 Opponent: Bye

Previous Ranking: 3rd

If the Seals were ranked third last week and in Week 7 they had the second largest loss (based on goal differential) of the week, its just a harsh and unfortunate reality of the power rankings that they must move down to the fourth spot. Curtis Dickson, Dane Dobbie and Wes Berg combined for eight of the team’s 10 goals. It wasn’t enough to beat the Roughnecks, who won 14-10, and were furiously trying to avenge their 17-14 loss against the Seal back in Week 5. We have seen stretches of impressive goaltending from Frank Scigliano and Christopher Origlieri, but neither have been able to put together a dominant 60-minute display so far this year. I expect, after their first loss of the season this past weekend that the Seals are going to come out guns blazing when they head to Colorado in Week 9. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we are going to see the best and most complete version of the Seals in Week 9, so I hope the Mammoth are ready for what could happen.

#5 – Toronto Rock (3-2)

Week 7 Result: 17-8 win vs Halifax

Week 8 Opponent: at Philadelphia (2-2)

Previous Ranking: Next 3 In

The Rock are back in the Top-5 after won of the most dominating wins by any team this year. Their 17-8 victory was the seventh win in the league this year where a team won by nine or more goals – it was the fifth time that a team won when scoring 15+ goals while also holding their opponent to under-10 goals scored. The Rock had six multi-goal scorers in Week 7, but it’s been the defense that has stolen the show in their three wins. This past weekend, Challen Rogers, Brad Kri and Dan Craig all had multiple caused turnovers – through Week 7, Kri has the 2nd-most caused turnovers in the NLL. Nick Rose continued to be in peak form in Week 7 adding another 48 saves to his season total, while only allowing eight goals.

Next 3 In (in alphabetical order)

Calgary Roughnecks (3-2)

Week 7 Result: 14-10 win vs San Diego

Week 8 Opponent: Bye

Previous Ranking: N/A

You could really put the Roughnecks at 5A. It’s hard to argue that the Roughnecks 14-10 win against the then-undefeated San Diego Seals in Week 7 wasn’t one of, if not the most impressive victory of this NLL season. To hold that potent San Diego offense to just 10 goals is next-level difficult. Furthermore, to face that offense and never trail in the game shows how prepared this team was to flip that previous result on its head. The addition of Josh Currier adds more depth to this young, promising team – Currier had 1 goal and 4 assists in his team debut. Christian Del Bianco was up to his old tricks, making 40 stops, including many pivotal ones as the Seals were ramping up the pressure late in the game.

Halifax Thunderbirds (3-3)

Week 7 Results:11-10 OT loss vs Albany, 17-8 loss at Toronto

Week 8 Opponent: Bye

Previous Ranking: 4th

Back-to-back loses in the same weekend is going to significantly drop any team in the power rankings. The overtime 11-10 loss against the underrated Albany FireWolves was unfortunate considering Jake Withers almost had a prefect night at the face-off X and Graeme Hossack and the defense were very good, the offense just couldn’t solve Doug Jamieson (an already tough feat for any team on any night). Facing the surging Toronto Rock on Saturday night, was definitely the more impactful blow to the Thunderbirds in the ranking, even if they did have to travel to get to their second game in two nights. With a week off now to recover from those losses, the Thunderbirds will have another tough test in Week 9 when they face the Knighthawks.

Saskatchewan Rush (2-2)

Week 7 Result: 11-10 OT loss at Colorado

Week 8 Opponent: Bye

Previous Ranking: 5th

Who are the 2022-23 Saskatchewan Rush? Are they going to be an offensive juggernaut that puts up 18 goals in Week 1? A team that surrounds multi-goal leads like in Week 2? Through Week 7, I still think it’s not 100% clear what to expect from them, and for understandable reasons. Since December 9th, the Rush have not played in back-to-back weekends and it’s not allowing this team to build a chemistry on the floor the same way other teams have gotten that chance. Significant injuries, too, have obviously not helped keep the same guys on the floor week in and week out and that also impacts a teams ability to find their groove. Still, this team could very well have been 4-0 at this point of the season. Both of their losses have come in overtime, and as we all know, in those situations, sometimes something as seemingly insignificant as an odd bounce or a face-off win can determine who wins and losses a game.

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