Buffalo wins Game 2 15-13 to clinch Back-to-Back Titles; Byrne is Finals MVP

Scores / Schedule

Week 9 Power Rankings

#1 – Rochester Knighthawks (6-0)

Week 8 Result: 15-12 win vs Buffalo

Week 9 Opponent: at Halifax (3-3)

Previous Ranking: 1st

The Knighthawks retain their #1 status after they defeated the #2 ranked Buffalo Bandits in Week 8. In what could be considered their most impressive victory in their young franchises history, the Knighthawks put together a second half performance that would have made it difficult for any team to beat them. There haven’t been any glaring holes in this team’s game all season long. In fact, they seem to be getting more confident at every position each game. For any doubters out there, let’s remember that the Bandits started 6-0 last season and came as close as possible to winning the 2022 NLL Cup. Will the Knighthawks have that same fate this season? Will they win it all? Only time will tell.

#2 – Toronto Rock (4-2)

Week 8 Result: 14-5 win at Philadelphia

Week 9 Opponent: at Calgary (3-2)

Previous Ranking: 5th

Following their surprising 1-2 start to this season, the Rock have transformed into a freighting boulder that currently looks more unstoppable than last year’s Rock now that they’re rolling. For the third week in a row, the Rock cruised to a dominating victory – they have now beaten each of their last three opponents by eight or more goals. Nick Rose is having a career-year in net (that’s saying something) and the defense in front of him is equally impenetrable. That’s not even mentioning the offensive which is proving how important and dangerous it is to have depth, balance, and skill on the attack.

#3 – Buffalo Bandits (4-2)

Week 8 Result: 15-12 loss at Rochester

Week 9 Opponent: at Philadelphia (2-3)

Previous Ranking: 2nd

Had it not been for a very solid second half from the Knighthawks last weekend, we’d be having a very different discussion about where the Bandits sit in the rankings. Losing to Knighthawks after leading by three at the end of the 1st half and leading by one goal heading into the 4th quarter will definitely sting, but considering the quality of the team they were playing, this is the type of loss you learn from and move on to the next one. Having said that, the three-goal loss ties their largest margin of defeat over the past two seasons and their 15 goals allowed is very un-Bandits-like. Heading on the road to Philadelphia, the Bandits can regain any confidence lost this past weekend with a decisive win against the Wings.

#4 – Colorado Mammoth (3-1)

Week 8 Result: Bye

Week 9 Opponent: vs San Diego (4-1)

Previous Ranking: 3rd

The Mammoth had the week off in Week 8, and it’s unclear how that will affect them. Currently riding a three-game win streak, I’m sure the Mammoth would’ve loved to be playing in Week 8 to keep their momentum going, but the scheduling gods don’t care what any team would prefer. Their Week 9 matchup against their fierce West Conference rivals, the San Diego Seals, will be a good litmus test to see if this year’s Mammoth should be considered the same level of serious contender that they proved to be last season. The Mammoth are still missing Ryan Lee, which is significant, and might be costly when facing a Seals team that is capable of putting up a ton of goals.

#5 – San Diego Seals (4-1)

Week 8 Result: Bye

Week 9 Opponent: at Colorado (3-1)

Previous Ranking: 4th

The San Diego Seals could make a big statement if they can beat the defending champions on their home floor. The Seals will be out for blood (aka redemption), following their 14-10 loss against the Calgary Roughnecks in Week 7 and due to the fact the last time they played the Mammoth, they had their season ended on home floor in the West Conference Finals. Despite the loss, this is still a team that is capable of historic success. They feel that they have yet to play up to their potential, so this consequential heavyweight West Conference clash could be the moment we see what the Seals have to offer this season. It’s scary to think they’re 4-1 and still aren’t playing their best lacrosse yet.

Next 3 In (in alphabetical order)

Calgary Roughnecks (3-2)

Week 8 Result: Bye

Week 9 Opponent: vs Toronto (4-2)

Previous Ranking: Next 3 In

The Roughnecks had the Week off in Week 8, but you can imagine that they are still riding high coming off their 14-10 win against the then-undefeated Seals. In Week 9, they’ll have an equally challenging opponent in the Rock, but they now have a blueprint for how to beat the best teams in the NLL. The Roughnecks record is not indicative of what they’re capable of and beating the Seals and Rock in back-to-back games would put the rest of the league on notice that they are playing with a purpose.

Halifax Thunderbirds (3-3)

Week 8 Results: Bye

Week 9 Opponent: vs Rochester (6-0)

Previous Ranking: Next 3 In

Back-to-back losses are always tough to swallow, but the most effective way to dig yourself out of a hole in the NLL is to beat the top team in the league. The Thunderbirds offense hasn’t been flying as high as it was at the start of the season, but there’s no reason to think that they can’t get back to their high-scoring ways. Their 17-8 loss to the Rock in Week 7 was likely an aberration, and you can be sure that the Thunderbirds will be looking to make that case in Week 9 versus the Knighthawks.

Saskatchewan Rush (2-2)

Week 8 Result: Bye

Week 9 Opponent: vs Las Vegas (1-4)

Previous Ranking: Next 3 In

The Rush have had a disjointed first couple months to this season. Bye-weeks and inconsistent performances have made it difficult to judge what the Rush are going to give us the remainder of the NLL regular season. Starting Week 9, the Rush have no more weeks off, so they’re be able to get into a rhythm as the months go by. The Rush can get back in the win column facing the expansion Desert Dogs in Week 9, but they should be on alert against this upstart club who just notched their first win in their franchise history in spectacular fashion.