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What to Expect: Week 13

Saturday, February 26

Halifax Thunderbirds (6-1) at Philadelphia Wings (5-5) – 7:30pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

It was great to see the Thunderbirds back at home at The Nest last weekend to play the Swarm, but they’re back on the road again this weekend in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. This will be one of two games facing off at 7:30 PM ET this Saturday. It hasn’t been long since we last saw these two teams play on February 13th. Hopefully the Wings are well rested after their bye week which followed their 10-8 loss to the Thunderbirds in Week 11. The Wings started the game with a two-goal lead, but the Thunderbirds acted quickly putting three in the net to take the lead by the end of the first quarter. The following three quarters kept a close score, including a Philadelphia lead with under three minutes remaining in the game. The Thunderbirds would score the last three, including an empty netter to seal the win. The biggest difference makers in the game came down to the shots on goal (54 for HFX compared to 44 for PHI) and the loose ball totals, (80 for HFX and 64 for PHI). Jake Withers had his way with Trevor Baptiste at the faceoff dot, winning 16/22 draws.

Thunderbirds’ Austin Shanks had himself a night last Saturday netting six goals. He now leads the Thunderbirds in goals for this season. Warren Hill saved 35 shots, and with 3 saves this Saturday he will have 1,000 saves in his career. Hill currently sits second in the NLL in goals against average (9.19) and is one of a few goalies with a save percentage over 80%.

The Wings are clinging tightly to the 4th spot in the East, the last guaranteed spot for the playoffs. After this weekend, they will only have one more home game remaining for the rest of the season, playing 7 of their final 8 on the road. The Wings have eight players who average at least two points per game.

Toronto Rock (6-3) at New York Riptide (1-7) – 7:30pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

The Rock are on the road in New York for the second weekend in row, but this time it’s for the Riptide on Long Island. They added another game to their now four game win streak last weekend defeating the FireWolves 13-9. Reid Reinholdt capitalized on two power plays and scored another to record himself a hattrick. Goalie Nick Rose is on pace to pass Aaron Bold for 10th all-time in league history at 4,894 saves with just three saves this weekend. The countdown is on for Dan Dawson to surpass John Tavares for most games played and most career assists. He is scheduled to pass Tavares for games on March 12 and needs 10 assists to become the all-time leader. The Rock defense deserved some love after their performance against Albany, only letting Albany record 40 shots on goal, blocking six shots, and causing 13 turnovers, led by Jamison Dilks with four.

The Riptide lost their last game, played against the Swarm, 13-11 on February 12th. They were unable to catch up once the Swarm got a five-goal lead in the second and fourth quarters. The Riptide do not always have the strongest starts, but they bring the heat until the final whistle. Jeff Teat is still making a strong case for Rookie of the Year, averaging an astonishing 7.17 points per game. Callum Crawford with an excellent game can become the eighth player in NLL history to reach 800 assists and the tenth player with 1,100 points. He needs nine assists and one point respectively to hit those marks.

Hard to believe but this will be the first time the Rock and Riptide play each other since the Riptide have been in existence. The Rock will be looking to make it a five-game win streak and solidify their spot in the top three of the East. Meanwhile the Riptide are hoping to secure their second win of the season.  The Riptide’s 1-7 season record will be tough to come back from, but they are only a couple of games behind 5th place Albany with two games in hand for the potential wild card spot.

Buffalo Bandits (7-1) at Rochester Knighthawks (3-5) – 8:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

Both the Bandits and Knighthawks are coming off victories against the FireWolves. Rochester earned themselves a bye week after they bested the FireWolves 15-13 on February 12th m their second win versus Albany this season. Shawn Evans assisted 9 goals for the Knighthawks, four being scored by Holden Cattoni. Although the Knighthawks scored six in the fourth quarter, they will likely want to clean up their backend after allowing seven in the final frame.

The Bandits were itching to get back on the winning side of the boards after their first loss, and they did just that in one of the most bizarre stat lines ever seen in the NLL. The FireWolves came to Buffalo, and the game had an unusual scoring pattern. Banditland was begging for more action after a quiet first quarter with just a single goal scored by the FireWolves. The Bandits answered with six shots in net taking them to a 5-goal lead at halftime. Third quarter goals were solely scored by the FireWolves, totaling seven goals. The Bandits reciprocated with a run of seven straight taking them to a 13-8 win. The FireWolves only produced goals in the first and third quarter, and the Bandits only scored in the second and fourth meaning all 21 goals were scored in the net on one side of the floor. Chris Cloutier was named first star with four goals and an assist on the night. Matt Vinc had a quietly brilliant night with 54 saves on 62 shots (87.1 save percentage), not being named one of the three stars of the night.

This will be the third faceoff between the I-90 rivals Bandits and Knighthawks this season. The Bandits topped the Knighthawks in the first game by four goals (12-8) on December 11th, and in the second game by three goals (11-8) on February 5th. In game one, Rochester held a lead in the fourth quarter before allowing six straight Bandit goals in the span of about seven minutes. The Bandits took an early 5-1 lead and never really looked back; Dhane Smith led the team with seven points (4g, 3a). Buffalo’s only loss this season came when they were trailing after the first quarter which could be the recipe for Rochester.

Colorado Mammoth (6-2) at Saskatchewan Rush (2-6) – 8:30pm ET – ESPN+/Sports Interaction Game of the Week on TSN

In a highly anticipated rematch after last weekends game, the Mammoth now travel to visit the Rush in the Sports Interaction Game of the Week on TSN. The Mammoth were able to take home a victory in Week 12 at The Loud House, 12-10 against these same Rush. Many stats would have let it appear that Saskatchewan dominated this game. They outshot the Mammoth 57-40, including outpacing the Mammoth 22-9 in the first quarter. The Rush were 22-26 on faceoffs, led by Mike Messenger and at one point were winning 7-4 in the 3rd quarter. Josh Currier recorded a hattrick and Mark Matthews recorded his 300th career goal on the night in his 5 point effort (2g, 3a). Adam Shute even recorded two assists on the night but was to no avail as they sit at 2-6, a game behind Calgary for 4th place in the Western Conference. At the end of the day, goaltending and defense helped decide this game. The Rush made a midweek trade for goaltender Eric Penney who in 76 minutes this season has a .833 save percentage and a 9.61 goals against average.

On the other end of the floor, Dillon Ward was peppered with shots all night long, but recorded 47 saves on 57 shots, an .825 save percentage. HIs defense helped soak up even more shots, led by captain, Robert Hope with three on the night. Ryan Lee led the Mammoth with seven points (5g, 2a) along with Eli McLaughlin (1g, 4a) and Zed Williams (0g, 4a). The transition game for the Mammoth had ample opportunities in this game and recorded three goals from defenseman (two empty netters at the end) but many good looks throughout. After Ryan Lee took a 5 minute major for goalie interference (a play where he scored), the Mammoth were able to hold the Rush on the powerplay and take momentum in the second half. The Mammoth were able to score in all sorts of ways, but the momentum change happened in the third quarter with two blistering goals from the outside, one by Lee and the other by Connor Robinson.

These two foes will have one more game remaining on April 16.

Vancouver Warriors (5-3) at Panther City Lacrosse Club (1-8) – 8:30pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

Vancouver is coming in after a huge win in Week 12 versus the Calgary Roughnecks, whereas Panther City lost its fourth straight, also to Calgary in Week 12. Both games for these teams were decided by one goal. Keegan Bal paced the Warriors with six points (3g, 3a) followed by Kyle Killen and Logan Schuss, each with four points (2g, 2a). The transition for Vancouver also played a major factor with Owen Barker and newcomer Taylor Stuart each recording a goal and two assists. Barker also chipped in with four caused turnovers and going 11-25 at the faceoff dot. Steve Fryer also made his first start of the season as Alex Buque was a late scratch but saved 41/51 shots on the night.

Panther City got off to a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter against Calgary but then gave up five straight goals. The game was close throughout but Panther City was just unable to take the lead to the end. Newcomer Cam Milligan recorded a hattrick for PCLC as well as three points for Dean Fairall. Jeremy Thompson and Liam Byrnes contributed from the backend with three goals on the night. The goalies for this game each recorded 38 saves on 50 shots. The one difference was the last second goal by Tyler Burton to end the first half.

This is the third and final matchup on the season between these two clubs. Vancouver won the previous two games, 14-8 and 17-11. In their most recent matchup on February 5, Will Malcom recorded a hattrick for PCLC and Kyle Killen tallied four goals and was aided by Keegan Bal’s six points (2g, 4a).

Albany FireWolves (4-6) at San Diego Seals (6-1) – 10:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

The final game of the weekend is the only interconference matchup of the weekend between Albany and San Diego. The FireWolves had a disappointing Week 12, losing both of their games to Buffalo and Toronto respectively, being outscored 26-17. Joe Resetarits totaled 10 points (5g, 5a) and Doug Jamieson recorded 87 saves over both games. Joe Nardella tried his best to keep possession for his team, going just under 71% at the faceoff dot on the weekend. Albany sits at 5th place in the East, a game behind Philadelphia for the 4th and final guaranteed spot in the conference.

San Diego comes in off a bye week during Week 12 but on a six game win streak after losing the first game of the season. They lead the league with a +26 goal differential on the year and have had stellar performances from everywhere on the floor. Frank Scigliano is leading the NLL with an unprecedented 7.40 goals against average (Warren Hill is number two at 9.19). Jeremy Noble is averaging 4.83 assists per game and five players have more than 20 points in their seven games played, including Dane Dobbie averaging three goals per game. Should Dobbie score four goals, he will pass Mark Steenhuis on the all-time list. The ageless Brodie Merrill has a goal on the season (shorthanded) and is leading the team in loose balls recovered and tied for first in caused turnovers.

These two franchises last saw each other in the Seals expansion season of 2018-19. The Seals lost 17-14 despite an eight goal performance in the fourth quarter.