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Game Previews

What to Expect: Week 12

Friday, February 18

Albany FireWolves (4-4) at Buffalo Bandits (6-1) – 7:30pm ET – ESPNEWS/TSN.ca

It was a great run for Bandits, but their undefeated streak has come to an end. Last Saturday the Bandits were defeated by Eastern Conference rival, Toronto Rock, 12-10. Despite the loss, Dhane Smith is still on a tear, averaging over 4.5 assists per game this season. Connor Kelly has had a breakout season with 15 goals which is tied for second on the team and only three away from tying his career high he set in the 2019-20 season in San Diego. Matt Vinc also set a new career milestone, being the first goalie to surpass 13,000 minutes in goal. A new stat for the NLL this year, Steve Priolo is currently blocking the most shots at 13 on the season, helping his goalie.

The FireWolves also come in after a tough loss, losing their second and final matchup to the Rochester Knighthawks. Despite seven goals in the final 15 minutes of last week’s game against the Knighthawks, the FireWolves were unable to push ahead, and ultimately fell 15-13. Joe Nardella won 24 of his 28 faceoffs increasing his overall faceoff percentage to 72.6% on the season. He additionally got himself in a bit of a scrap in the game against the Knighthawks.

Vancouver Warriors (4-3) at Calgary Roughnecks (2-4) – 10:00pm ET – ESPN+/Sports Interaction Game of the Week on TSN2

Both Vancouver and Calgary come off big wins in their previous games last weekend. This will be just the third home game for the Roughnecks, currently 1-1 at the Saddledome as well as the first matchup between these teams this season. In their lone matchup in the 2019-20 season, the Roughnecks took the victory, 12-7. Christian Del Bianco put on an absolute show during that matchup, saving 63 of 70 shots (.900 save percentage) and seven Roughnecks recording a goal. The Roughnecks got a vital win last week against Colorado 9-7. Without their leading scorer, Curtis Dickson, it was a balance offensive approach with seven players recording a goal. The Roughneck defense also help the Mammoth to just one goal in the second half. Del Bianco returned to form with a .833 save percentage.

After a three game losing streak, the Warriors seem to be back on track. They have now won two in a row in convincing fashion and are primed for a playoff spot in the West. Multiple players have helped fill the void of Mitch Jones’ injury including Kyle Killen (leading the Warriors in goals scored), Keegan Bal, Logan Schuss, Matthew Dinsdale and rookie Adam Charalambides. Rookie Reid Bowering is continuing his breakout campaign with 88 loose balls this season and 11 points. He is on pace for 226 loose balls, almost 30 points, 20 caused turnovers and 15 blocked shots.

Saturday, February 19

Georgia Swarm (4-5) at Halifax Thunderbirds (5-1) – 6:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

An exciting game for the Thunderbirds as they return to the Nest in Halifax this Saturday to face the Swarm for the first time this season. The Thunderbirds have won both of their games played at the Nest as well as their two home games played in Hamilton. They will be coming into Saturday’s game with similar expectations and a lot of excitement to be back on their turf in front of their fans. Both the Thunderbirds and the Swarm won their games last weekend by two goals. For the Thunderbirds, Cody Jamieson led the team to victory recording his first hattrick of the season. Rookie, Ryan Terefenko, contributed in a big way for the Thunderbirds, recording a goal and a team high nine loose balls.

The Swarm are currently sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference but depending on Albany’s outcome this weekend, could find themselves in a tie for fourth place and in a playoff position. Halfway through the season, Lyle Thompson is on pace for 50 goals, which would be a career high, more than his MVP, 2017 season. After 42 saves in last weekend’s game against the Riptide, goalie Mike Poulin needs 17 more to become the sixth goalie all-time with 6,000 saves and if he records the win, will surpass Anthony Cosmo for fourth all-time at 99.

Toronto Rock (5-3) at Albany FireWolves (TBD) – 7:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

The Rock are coming off a huge win after defeating the league’s number one team in the standings, the Bandits. Tom Schreiber did what he normally does and led the team to victory contributing four goals to the final 12-10 score. He has totaled 14 goals in his past three games and is on pace to record just over 60 on the season. He would be only the fourth player in league history to hit that mark. The Rock have won their last three games (after a 2-3 start), and are hoping to add another win to their streak this weekend against the FireWolves who are coming in for their second game of the weekend with the first being on Friday. Brad Kri and Mitch de Snoo are making strong cases for Defender of the Year award consideration, being one and two in the list of most caused turnovers at 24 and 19 respectively.

Last time these two teams took the same field was in Week 1. Aside from a short lived two goal lead for the Rock at the beginning of the fourth quarter, this game was back and forth until Dan Dawson netted the final two for the home team, his two goals on the night. Dawson’s first goal tied the teams at 9-9. Not too long after he scored another to give the Rock the eventual final score of 10-9.

This will be the FireWolves’ second game of the weekend, but luckily, it’s a home game and they will not be travelling far, coming in from Buffalo. The last time the FireWolves played twice in the same weekend, they split the games, but Joe Resetarits totaled 19 points (7g, 11a). In his last three games, he has totaled 29 points (11g, 18a), catapulting him up the league leaders, currently tied for fourth in points.

Sunday, February 20

Saskatchewan Rush (2-5)  at Colorado Mammoth (5-2) – 5:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

The Rush and Mammoth both come off conference losses last week versus the Warriors and Roughnecks respectfully. This is the first of three matchups on the season between these two foes, with game two happening next week. For the visiting Rush squad, although they are three games under .500, they only have a -4 goal differential on the season. Four of their seven games this season have been decided by one goal. The Rush’s defense and goaltending has done enough to keep them in the majority of games, but their offense ranks second to last in the NLL at an even 10 goals per game.

The Mammoth have scored an average of 5.5 goals in their two losses this season versus 13 goals per game in their five wins. Their defense remains consistent from most games but in order to see the Mammoth win, they need to have a more consistent offensive production. Only three Mammoth players have more than 10 goals so far this season. The transition game has been somewhat lacking, with only four goals coming from defenseman or transition players. In the abbreviated 2019-20 season, the Rush took two out of the three games played between these two clubs. In the Mammoth’s lone win in 2019-20, Chris Wardle recorded five goals with Ryan Lee and Eli McLaughlin each tallying seven points.

Calgary Roughnecks (TBD) at Panther City Lacrosse Club (1-7) – 5:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

Calgary will have a rest day between their second matchup on the weekend but a long travel to get to their next game, taking on a fresh Panther City squad in Fort Worth. This will be the first ever matchup between these two squads. Should Calgary win both games this weekend, they will return to a .500 record and be in the thick of a playoff spot. Zach Currier is only 12 loose ball recoveries away from 600 in his career. Through his career, he is averaging 11.31 loose balls per game, he is only in his fourth season if you include the abbreviated 2019-20 season. To put it in perspective, Brodie Merrill has averaged 10.37 loose ball recoveries per game in his career.

Since securing the franchises first ever win on January 15 against New York, Panther City has looked more like an expansion team, losing their last three games by a combined 43-22. Nick Damude has taken most of the minutes since January 15 in net for Panther City. The numbers for these goalies are similar with about 250 minutes played each, a 12.41 goals allowed average and .723 save percentage for Orleman and a 12.51 goals against and .744 save percentage for Damude. Sophomore Will Malcom, is having a hot stretch with 15 points in his last four games played and now leads the team in scoring this season. This Panther City squad is last in the league at scoring with just under 10 goals per game. In order to remain in games, this team needs to keep their opponents to shooting outside shots and running in transition to create odd man rushes to try to create offensive opportunities.