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What to Expect: Week 12

All games can be seen on ESPN+ and TSN+

Fri. Feb. 17

Roughnecks (6-3) at Warriors (1-8) – 10pm ET – Game of the Week on TSN

Friday night starts Week 12 with two West Coast games, both being featured on linear tv depending on which side of the border you are on. Game one takes us to Rogers Arena where the Warriors will look to take down the Calgary Roughnecks, featured on TSN as the Game of the Week.

Calgary comes into this game after securing a best-case scenario in Week 11, winning both games they played at home against their conference rivals in the Rush and Mammoth. With those wins, the Roughnecks now sit at 6-3, a game ahead of the Rush and a game behind the 6-1 San Diego Seals. Netminder Christian Del Bianco has secured him in conversation for Goaltender of the Year after last weekend where he played all 120 minutes, saved 89 of 104 shots and added three more assists to his season total of 15, good for third on the team and tied with players like Lyle Thompson, Eric Fannell and Challen Rogers overall.

The Warriors come in off another loss last weekend, their fourth straight. Despite being outscored 4-1 in the first quarter, they fought back with a six goal second quarter to even the score at halftime, 7-7. A couple of bounces going the other way and Vancouver could have had the victory when the final buzzer rang, losing 14-13. Keegan Bal scored five goals, but the team was unable to pull ahead despite the valiant attempt. Reid Bowering had eight loose ball recoveries and five caused turnovers while newcomer Steph Charbonneau added two caused turnovers and two blocked shots.

This is the third and final matchup between these two teams this season. Back in December, Calgary took both matchups in back-to-back weeks, outscoring Vancouver 25-14 in those games. In the last game, Haiden Dickson scored four goals and Del Bianco saved 51 of 56 shots.

Rush (4-3) at Seals (6-1) – 10:30pm ET – ESPN2

The second and final game of the Friday takes us to San Diego against the first and third place teams in the West, airing on ESPN2.

The Rush were one of two teams to suffer a defeat against the Roughnecks last weekend, losing 13-6. A game that was tied at half, saw the Roughnecks outscore Saskatchewan 10-3 in the third and fourth quarters. While the Rush outshot Calgary, they were poor on the powerplay, only converting one of seven opportunities on the night.

The Seals come in off a bye in Week 11 but a 12-10 in over Panther City Lacrosse Club in Week 10. At 6-1, the Seals are leading the West but have a lot of games left to play and few bye weeks in between. With the offseason additions in Kevin Crowley and Curtis Dickson, this team is where we expected them to be atop the West and in everyone’s power rankings. The offense is as potent as they come, with firepower up and down the lineup.

The biggest surprise may come in net as Chris Origlieri has surpassed Frank Scigliano in minutes played and has the stats to back up his play. He sits second in the NLL in goals against average at 9.57 and has a 79.6% save percentage, close to the overall leaders with 263 minutes between the pipes.

The last time these two played was an instant classic for the Seals. The team was lethargic through three quarters, being outscored 10-4. Something came together quickly in the fourth quarter as the Seals scored eight straight goals in a span of 7:24 to take a 12-10 lead. The Rush would score two to tie the game and send it to overtime. A couple of minutes into the extra frame, Curtis Dickson would score his fourth of the night and secure the win. These two will play one more time on March 11.

Sat. Feb. 18

Swarm (0-6) at Rock (7-2) – 7pm ET

Saturday begins with two teams that faced off against each other last week. To many, this game was a lot closer than it should have been, with the Rock taking the one goal victory, 11-10.

Despite the record for the Swarm, the team is looking more competitive each game out and is fighting every minute. Everyone knows what to expect from Lyle Thompson and Shayne Jackson, but Andrew Kew has become a larger factor in the offense in his first season with the team, contributing six points last week. Only five of the nine games this year have the Rock allowed 10 or more goals.

Mike Manley helped his struggling goaltenders with five blocked shots. Rookie Brett Dobson would get the start in this game, but Craig Wende would come in relief and played well enough to keep the Swarm in the game, saving 26 of 30 shots faced.

The Rock are part of the trio at 7-2 atop the East and needs to keep pace to at least host a playoff game in round one, if not looking for home floor advantage through the playoffs. This team has won in every way this year. They can score 20 goals per game, hold teams to under 10, and even when the offense isn’t always clicking, their transition helps pick up the slack. Last week, Mitch de Snoo and Latrell Harris combined for five points (with two goals), helping their offense. Three of the top five defensive/transition point getters in the league are from the Rock.

Playing an opponent in back-to-back weeks is never easy to take both. This is the final matchup of the season between these two.

Desert Dogs (2-5) at FireWolves (2-5) – 7pm ET

Don’t look now, but the Desert Dogs have quietly won two of their last three games. Can they go on a run like Panther City last season down the stretch?

Last time out on February 4, Las Vegas took down the defending champs in the Colorado Mammoth. While it was the Mammoth’s second game of the weekend, Las Vegas brought their A-game. Rookie Jack Hannah recorded a socktrick, the first rookie since Jeff Teat last year and eighth rookie to achieve the feat. He is sitting second in rookie points but leads in goals scored. In net, Landon Kells played one of the best games of his young career, saving 41 of 49 shots.

Albany started the season 2-2 and a team on the rise but have lost their last three straight. In those last three losses, two have come at the hands of the New York Riptide, including last week, 14-12. The FireWolves would find themselves trailing 12-4 in the third quarter but would go on a seven-goal run to bring them to within one. Unfortunately, Jeff Teat scored his sixth and seventh goals of the game to put the game out of reach. It was a rough game for Doug Jamieson, only saving 12 of 21 shots before being pulled early in the third quarter.

These teams will be playing each other for the first time and for those wondering how the East v West matchups have gone so far this season, it is an even split a 4-4. Albany will play their first game against the West while Las Vegas is currently 0-1 against the East.

Wings (3-4) at Bandits (7-2) – 7:30pm ET

Both the Wings and Bandits will come into this game off bye weeks in Week 11 and crucial wins in Week 10.

Philadelphia dominated the FireWolves in a 13-5 final and leading 9-1 entering the fourth. Newcomer Mitch Jones contributed in a big way with six points in his debut (2g, 4a) to help rejuvenate this Wings offense that scored 14 goals total in their previous two contests. The story was on the defensive side though as they allowed only one goal through three quarters and Trevor Baptiste had a perfect game at the faceoff, winning 22 of 22 draws.

The Bandits defeated the Knighthawks, who they are tied with at the top of the East conference at 7-2, along with the Rock. The Bandits used a 10-1 run in the second and third quarters to establish their lead. They played the game without Josh Byrne, one of the league’s top scorers whose status is uncertain moving forward. Dhane Smith is replicating, if not improving, on his MVP season last year and added nine points (4g, 5a) in the game.

These two teams played once earlier this season with the Bandits defeating Philadelphia 13-9. A six goal third quarter propelled the Bandits who were trailing by three at the half. Smith had nine points (2g, 7a) and Tehoka Nanticoke scored a hattrick. Ben McIntosh led the Wings with a hattrick of his own while Joe Resetarits added six points, with a goal and five assists.

Mammoth (4-4) at Panther City (5-4) – 8pm ET

Saturday night concludes with two teams needing wins to keep up in the competitive West and are currently competing for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West.

As it sits, the Mammoth are on the outside of the playoffs looking in, trying to avoid being the first team since the 2008 Rochester Knighthawks to fail to qualify for playoffs the year after winning the league title. Last week out, the Mammoth lost to the Roughnecks, who had played the night before, 13-9.

The offensive injuries are starting to really show for the Mammoth. They are last in the NLL in goals scored per game, the only team under 10. Connor Robinson was announced as a late scratch heading into Saturday’s game. They welcomed back Tyson Gibson last game but will take him some time to get familiar with the offense and a new face for him in Rhys Duch. The bad news kept coming as it was announced Joey Cupido, two-time Transition Player of the Year, is lost for the remainder of the season. Only three goals have been scored by D/T players for the Mammoth this year.

Panther City eked out a win over the Vancouver Warriors 14-13 last weekend at home. Callum Crawford looked at home with five goals on the night while Jonathan Donville contributed with a team high six assists, now sitting second in the NLL in assists at 38. Transition player, Josh Medeiros recorded a hattrick last week and is tied for third among transition players with nine goals on the season.

These two teams will play a home and home over the next couple of weeks. Earlier in the season, Colorado took a 12-9 win over Panther City on December 17. Zed Williams and Eli McLaughlin carried the team with a combined 15 points (7g, 8a). On the other side, Donville and Will Malcom combined for most of the damage for Panther City with three goals and eight assists combined. If Colorado wins this weekend, they will take the season series over PCLC but if not, the game in Week 13 will decide that tiebreaker.

Sun. Feb. 19

Riptide (2-6) at Thunderbirds (4-5) – 1pm ET

Seems fitting that the first weekend without the NFL sees the NLL hosting a Sunday afternoon game between the Riptide and Thunderbirds.

While still towards the bottom of the standings, the Riptide come into this game off a win against the Albany FireWolves. Jeff Teat does things only he can, scoring seven of the teams 14 goals and adding two assists to boot. 15 different players recorded a point for the Riptide and Steve Orleman looked more like the goalie we saw late last year, saving 55 of 67 shots (.821 save percentage).

Teat is tied for the league lead in goals scored and sits second in points at 65 through eight games (on pace for 146). One wonders if the Riptide record were flipped, would Teat be hands down the MVP this season? He has either scored or assisted on 69% of all Riptide goals this year, almost 10% higher than Dhane Smith.

Halifax comes in on a midseason skid of their own, dropping four of their last five, including their tight contest against Rochester last week, 16-14. While the game ended in a two-goal difference, Rochester held the momentum through most of the game. Halifax would use a five-goal run with less than five minutes remaining to inch closer. While early in the season, Halifax used its high-powered offense to defeat teams, in their last four losses, they are averaging just 10.75 goals per game. In their wins, they are averaging 17.25 goals per game. While that number was not sustainable, the defense will now need to help support their offense moving forward to secure those needed wins.

One of the lopsided wins for the Thunderbirds this season was against this Riptide on December 17, winning 20-11. While somewhat close at 14-10 entering the fourth, the Thunderbirds brought the final blows in the final frame. Ryan Benesch contributed with nine points (5g, 4a) while Reilly O’Connor was the best support for Teat, contributing six points of his own (3g, 3a).