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What to Expect: Week 15

All games can be seen on ESPN+ and TSN+

Fri. March 10

Thunderbirds (5-6) at Bandits (9-2)  – 7:30pm ET

Friday night starts off with a rematch of an ultra-competitive game from last weekend between the Bandits and Thunderbirds, but this time in Banditland, after Buffalo secured a 10-9 win in Halifax last week.

The Bandits, specifically Ian MacKay, took the first quarter, with MacKay scoring all three goals of the quarter. Halifax answered back with four straight and the Thunderbirds would take a one goal lead heading into halftime. Buffalo would score the first two of the second half before Halifax answered back with three straight of their own.

Reigning MVP Dhane Smith would take over, scoring his three goals of the night on a Bandits four goal run to give Buffalo a two-goal advantage. Randy Staats would score with just over five minutes remaining to put the Thunderbirds within one, but ultimately would not be able to get the tying goal to force overtime.

Both teams wanted this win but only one team could come out on top. Buffalo has taken the season series against Halifax regardless of the outcome this game. The Bandits are now leading the East but only by a half game on the Rock and Halifax needs the win to keep positioning as the fourth spot in the East conference, the last guaranteed spot, given they are now half a game behind the Wings for that spot who won both their games last weekend.

Roughnecks (7-4) at Mammoth (5-5) – 9:00pm ET

A classic rivalry game between the last two NLL champions takes us back to Denver between the Roughnecks and Mammoth. Both teams have had plenty of time to watch tape as they were on bye weeks in Week 14.

The Roughnecks come into Friday’s contest after a shocking loss to the Desert Dogs their last game out, which ended their four-game win streak. Calgary came out of the gates cold, trailing 6-1 by the end of the first. To their credit, they battled back to even the score at halftime. A decisive third quarter saw the Desert Dogs take a two-goal lead and not look back. A tough game for the Roughnecks offense saw only six goals come from their forwards, with the other three contributed by defenseman, Shane Simpson.

The Mammoth got arguably their biggest win of the season last game out against Panther City, also at home. Colorado welcomed back to the lineup last season’s team leading scorer and second in the NLL in Ryan Lee. The energy could be felt and the offense, who has struggled much of this season, looked rejuvenated and much like their championship team from last year. Lee finished the night 10 points (2g, 8a). Zed Williams and Ty Thompson each also contributed with a hattrick each. Another pleasant surprise has been Evan Downey, who has filled a huge void left by Joey Cupido’s injury, now with three goals scored on the season in transition for the Mammoth.

These two have split their two matchups from the season. Last time out on February 11, the Roughnecks took the 13-9 win at home. Calgary would get to Dillon Ward early and often, leading 11-2 at the half, led by Josh Currier’s four goals. Eli McLaughlin scored four for the Mammoth, who the team is hoping returns from injury this weekend. The Mammoth have been taking care of business at home, going 4-1 at the Loud House so far.

Sat. Mar. 11

FireWolves (2-8) at Rock (9-3) – 7pm ET – Game of the Week on TSN

The Game of the Week on TSN takes us to Hamilton, Ontario between the Albany FireWolves and Toronto Rock.

The FireWolves look to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches and their current positioning in the East. Last week they lost for the second straight weekend against the Georgia Swarm, this time a much tighter game, losing 9-8 in overtime. The defense was suffocating and Doug Jamieson had one of his best performances, saving 52 of 61 shots, but Lyle Thompson is just too good, scoring three goals and the game winner in OT. The challenge for this team remains their goal scoring as they sit last in the NLL at 9.5 per game. Jake Fox made his debut for Albany last week, scoring a goal as he adjusts to his third NLL team this season.

The Rock played twice last weekend, going 1-1 with both games being decided by one goal. In their first matchup against Rochester, they used a four-goal run in the second half to come back and take the lead. Brandon Slade would get the game winner with just over five minutes remaining in the contest as the defense was able to hold on for the 9-8 win. Game two against the Wings saw the Rock lose 11-10 in Philadelphia. Despite doubling the shot total of the Wings, they could not find the twine behind Zach Higgins who had an impressive .846 save percentage on 65 shots seen.

This is the first matchup between these East Conference foes this season. Last year, the Rock took both games including the matchup on February 19, 2022, by a score of 13-9. Another duel in net saw Nick Rose and the Rock defense outmatched the Doug Jamieson and the FireWolves back end. Rose saved 31 of 40 shots while Jamieson saved 43 of 54 as the Rock scored two late empty net goals to secure the win.

Wings (5-5) at Riptide (2-9) – 7:30pm ET

Another rematch from last weekend sees the Wings now travelling to Long Island to take on the Riptide. Last week, the Wings would take the 19-12 win in a physical affair which saw some bad blood between the two teams.

Last weekend was a perfect scenario for the Wings, winning both their games (their second game was Monday against the Rock) and with Halifax losing, pushed Philadelphia into the fourth spot in the East Conference. They combined for 30 goals scored in their two games, led by newly acquired Mitch Jones who totaled 21 points (8g, 13a) in the two wins. Zach Higgins had one of his best performances against the Rock, saving 55 of 65 shots, and 96 of 118 in both contests. This league benefits those who get hot at the right time, is this the right time for the Wings with just under two months remaining of the regular season?

The Riptide have a lot of great young players but have not been able to put the wins together to show for their efforts. Jeff Teat added nine more points to his total and is in the league lead with 88 in 11 games, on pace to set the single season record at 144 in just his second season. Connor Kearnan has proved his valuable play from last season with 18 goals on the season and second on the team in points as with Reilly O’Connor and Larson Sundown. The challenge is on the backend as the team has had Steve Orleman primarily playing in net, but have had Gowah Abrams, Kevin Orleman and now Cameron Dunkerley all waiting to see if their name will get the call. The Riptide are second to last allowing 14.91 goals per game.

Last week, Mitch Jones torched the Riptide for 14 points (6g, 8a) with other support coming from Joe Resetarits and Ben McIntosh each adding four goals. Emotions ran high as the game was coming to an end, we will see if those emotions carry over when they see each other again this weekend.

Seals (7-2) at Rush (5-5) – 8:30pm ET

Something about the Seals and Rush playing always makes for great lacrosse. They have split their two previous matchups with the Seals making a historic comeback in game one, and the Rush controlling game two, both in San Diego. If the season ended prior to this weekend, this would be the first-round matchup between the one and four seed.

Emotions are high for the Seals as they won the Stadium Showdown last week at Snapdragon Stadium over the Desert Dogs. The back-and-forth affair saw the Seals use a five-goal run from the third and fourth quarter to take the win. Casey Jackson scored two of those goals to help add insurance for the closing stretch. For a team that is leading the West Conference and has played well all season, a lot is to be made about their goalie situation, which again saw Chris Origlieri start the game but see Frank Scigliano take most of the minutes in relief. For a championship contending team, having a bona fide plan in net would put a lot of minds at ease for such a critical position.

The Rush took a loss last week in Fort Worth, Texas against Panther City by a 16-10 final after also losing to Vancouver the week prior. While within striking distance for most of the game, Panther City would outduel the Rush in the fourth quarter to stretch their lead. Robert Church helped carry the team with seven points (4g, 3a) but defensively and in net, could not slow down PCLC and also struggled against the Warriors the week prior, allowing 32 goals the last two contests.

Warriors (2-9) at Desert Dogs (4-6) – 10:30pm ET

The two bottom teams in the West face off but with a lot on the line. Vancouver comes in off a bye week but winners of their last game. Las Vegas had won three straight before falling last weekend to San Diego.

Despite all the changes, the Warriors put together their best performance of the season last time out against the Rush, winning 16-12. Each of Keegan Bal, Adam Charalambides, Shawn Evans, and Kyle Killen scored three goals for the team. Keegan Bal added eight assists for a game high 11 points and Reid Bowering added three apples of his own. Aaron Bold made his return to net for the Warriors and did enough to get the win, saving 51 of 63 shots. While long shots for the playoffs, the Warriors with a couple of wins can put themselves into discussions and play spoiler for other teams. They are looking to evaluate what they have in their roster and what items they can address at the trade deadline. Playing a full 60 minutes, this team has the talent to compete.

The Desert Dogs remain close for a playoff spot in a competitive West Conference as an expansion franchise. Last week, they just could not outshoot the Seals, losing 15-12. Eight different players scored a goal for Las Vegas, including three for Charlie Bertrand. Playing disciplined lacrosse has helped this team during their prior win streak and suffered a bit last week, taking 16 penalty minutes and allowing the Seals to score on five of seven powerplay opportunities.

This is the third and final matchup between these two teams. The home team has taken each game in high scoring affairs, each team averaging over 15 goals in their two contests. Last time saw the Desert Dogs get their first win in franchise history, a 15-14 thriller after trailing 12-4 at half.

Sun. Mar. 12

Knighthawks (8-3) at Swarm (2-7) – 4pm ET

Sunday afternoon lacrosse takes us to Georgia for the Knighthawks taking on the Swarm.

Rochester still remains towards the top of the East but will need to keep up with the Bandits and Rock if they want a chance at hosting a home playoff game. Regardless, they have doubled their win total from last season with seven games to play. Their last few games have been energetic and draining. Two weeks ago they won in the second longest game in league history with over 74 minutes of game action and last week fell late to the Rock, 9-8 for a battle of then 8-2 teams. While there are few emotional victories, holding the potent Rock offense to nine goals at home and being neck and neck with them all game is great for confidence of being able to compete with any team on any given night, just not enough scoring output against the best defense in the league statistically. Get this team into the playoffs and anything can happen.

Georgia has found some second half magic, winning their last two games for their first two wins of the season. While potentially too little too late for a playoff run, it is great to see Brett Dobson continuing to see productive minutes in net and build confidence as a rookie. The scoring has started coming from other outlets than Lyle Thompson, with Andrew Kew scoring eight goals in the last two games. What moves will the Swarm make as the trade deadline approaches and how much will this game have on those decisions?

Rochester took game one of the three matchups between these two this season on December 3 by a 16-11 final. Connor Fields made a memorable debut with 10 points (4g, 6a) and nine loose balls to boot. Lyle Thompson was held to just three points while Shayne Jackson did the bulk of the damage for the Swarm with five points (3g, 2a).

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