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What to Expect: Week 15

Friday, March 11

Albany FireWolves (5-7) at Halifax Thunderbirds (8-1) – 6:00pm ET – ESPN+/Sports Interaction Game of the Week on TSN

To start off the Thunderbirds’ doubleheader weekend, the FireWolves will be headed up to the Nest. These two teams went head-to-head back on January 29th where the FireWolves dished the Thunderbirds their only loss of the season, ending the game with a final score of 8-6. The FireWolves set the pace during the first two quarters and established a five-goal lead at the half. The Thunderbirds dominated the second half by outscoring the FireWolves 5-3, but it wasn’t enough to secure the win behind Doug Jamieson’s 46 save performance.

Last weekend Halifax defeated Vancouver 14-12. They trailed Vancouver by two at the end of the first quarter, and by three at the end of the second. In order to keep their win streak going, the ‘Birds came out in the third quarter and scored three and shut out the Warriors offense to tie up the score at 10-10 to head into the final frame. After allowing Riley Loewen’s fifth goal of the night, the Thunderbirds scored four straight goals. The Thunderbirds earned their NLL leading fifth consecutive win. Goalie Aaron Bold defended the net in place of Warren Hill after he was placed on the Covid Protocol List. For his first game in net this season, he recorded 60 minutes and collected 38 saves in what must have been an emotional return to net against his former team.

The FireWolves took their game into overtime last weekend against the Bandits. It was a close back and forth affair with neither team having more than a two goal lead the entire game. Joe Resetarits scored with under two minutes to go until the final whistle to tie it up. If anyone was going to give the Bandits a run for their money, it was going to be Ryan Benesch and Joe Resetarits, and that’s just what they did. Both Benesch and Resetarits had a four-goal nights. Despite the FireWolves’ heroics, the Bandits scored the game-winner just twenty-two seconds into overtime.”

Panther City Lacrosse Club (3-8) at Colorado Mammoth (6-3) – 9:30pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

Panther City currently holds the longest winning streak in the Western Conference and head to The Loud House to take on the Mammoth for the second time this season. Although Panther City is 3-8, they are only a game behind Calgary for the 4th spot in the West and potentially the final playoff spot. They have won their past two games, both at home against Western Conference opponents in the Warriors and Rush respectively.

While maybe not their most impressive outing on the defensive end, Panther City recorded 17 goals in their game last weekend against the Rush, a franchise high. The offense was clicking in a way we have yet to see this year. Rookie Patrick Dodds continued his solid play with six points (2g, 4a), along with other young players on the team in Nate Grenon (1g, 6a), Dean Fairall (2g, 4a), Cam Milligan (1g, 5a), and Will Malcom (5g, 3a) who netted the game winner in overtime. Nick Damude has taken control of the crease for Panther City and allowed a chance for the team to win, saving 38 of 54 shots.

Colorado comes into this weekends game off a bye week in Week 14. Their last game saw them fall to the Rush, 10-9 in overtime even with Dillon Ward saving 62 of 72 shots. Since Tim Edwards has been injured, the Mammoth have struggled at the faceoff dot but are hoping that new signing, Alex Woodall can help provide more possessions in some of these closely contested games.

In the first matchup between these two team, the Mammoth stole an 8-7 victory in Fort Worth. Dillon Ward saved 48 of 55 shots and on the other end, Kevin Orleman saved 38 of 40 shots. Rookie Sam LeClair was named the games first star with three goals in his first career game. The third quarter may be the quarter to decide this game like it did in the first matchup of these teams. Colorado is a +13 in the third whereas Panther City is a -15.

Saskatchewan Rush (3-7) at San Diego Seals (7-2) – 10:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

Just when it looked like the Rush were getting back on track this season, they lose in overtime to Panther City in Week 14. The Seals got back into the win column with a defensive battle against the Roughnecks, winning 9-4. New goaltender, Eric Penney, made some critical saves for the Rush in their prior matchup against the Mammoth to secure an overtime victory but ended up being pulled in the game against Panther City for Adam Shute who has played the majority of minutes for the Rush this season. Offensively, the Rush looked like the team we all come to expect. Mark Matthews recorded six points (3g, 3a), Robert Church continued his great play with seven points (2g, 5a), and Dan Lintner and Josh Currier produced more than they have on average for the season with three goals and two goals respectively. Mike Messenger has been sending a message about his chance for Transition Player of the Year with a three point performance (2g, 1a), 15 loose balls, two caused turnovers, and blocking two shots. Despite the positive offensive play, it is very difficult to win a game in the NLL allowing 17 goals on just 41 shots on goal.

The Seals just find ways to win, period. Despite scoring the second lowest amount of goals in a game on the season for Seals, Frank Scigliano recorded his third game allowing just four goals to the opponent, a first that has happened in league history. He saved 50 of 54 shots, including a penalty shot save in the fourth quarter, and was named first star of the game. Wes Berg has been the leader for the offense and produced the most when it counted, tallying five points (3g, 2a) and was aided by Austin Staats from the left-handed side with five points of his own (2g, 3a).

This is the second matchup between the Rush and Seals this season. The first round went to the Seals who won 12-11 in Saskatchewan on January 14 of this season. Justin Geddie got the spot start for the Seals and did just enough to get the Seals a win, saving 42 of 53 shots. On the other side, Adam Shute had a respectable night, saving 38 of 50 shots. The usual suspects on offense had productive nights. For the Seals, Wes Berg had five points (3g, 2a), Dane Dobbie added three (2g, 1a), Jeremy Noble with six (2g, 4a) and Austin Staats with six more (3g, 3a). For the Rush, Mark Matthews had six points (2g, 4a), Robert Church added five (3g, 2a), and Ryan Keenan with four (1g, 3a). Both teams are at different positions with the Rush looking to fight for their playoff lives whereas the Seals are looking to continue their push for the top spot in the West.

Saturday, March 12

New York Riptide (2-8) at Rochester Knighthawks (3-8) – 5:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

The Riptide and Knighthawks are carrying losses into this weekend’s game. The Riptide fell to the Rock 12-9 after defeating the Rock the week prior. Riptide’s Dan Lomas made up for lost time with a hattrick after a long-awaited return to the field since he endured an Achilles injury during the offseason. Lomas set the game in motion netting the first and only goal of the first quarter. Out of the 57 shots goalie Steve Orleman had fired at him he saved 45, for his third most on the season. The Knighthawks lost 17-16 in an overtime match against the Swarm. Rookie Ryan Smith led the game with a career best nine points (4g, 5a) for the Knighthawks, followed by Holden Cattoni with six points (4g, 2a). Unfortunately for the Knighthawks, they could not stop Lyle Thompson and Shayne Jackson who combined for 15 points on the night.

The Riptide and Knighthawks matched up last during Week 1 of the season on December 4th. New York Riptide’s Connor Kearnan and Jeff Teat scored goals with under two minutes in regulation, forcing the game into overtime. Knighthawks’ Thomas Hoggarth completed his hattrick that night with the game-winning shot a minute and a half into the extra frame. This will be Rylan Hartley’s first time standing in net for the Knighthawks since Evan Kirk was in goal in game one. Callum Crawford of the Riptide needs three more assists to become the eighth player in NLL history to reach 700 across his career. Each team is playing with a do or die mentality and will need this win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Halifax ThunderBirds (TBD) at Georgia Swarm (5-6) – 7:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

The Swarm advanced their record to 5-6 for the season after their overtime win last Friday versus the Knighthawks. Shayne Jackson was on a high putting up eight points (5g, 3a), his season best. Jackson sealed the deal for the Swarm with his fifth of the night at four minutes into overtime. Lyle Thompson followed closely behind with seven points (4g, 3a). Lyle Thompson is just six points shy of reaching his 500th career point. With a win, goalie Mike Poulin is one win away from his 100th career win which would make him the fourth NLL goalie to accomplish this milestone. Last weekend with his 99th win he passed Anthony Cosmo for fourth place on the all-time list, and he recorded 6,000th save.

The Thunderbirds will be on the road after their first game of the weekend on Friday in Halifax. It will be a tough travel day to go from Halifax, NS down to Atlanta, GA for the Thunderbirds. On February 15th, when these teams first faced off, the Thunderbirds dominated each quarter, never allowing the Swarm to take a lead. Thunderbirds’ Jake Withers set the pace at the faceoff dot winning 22 of the 29 faceoffs that game. He falls in third, under Joe Nardella and Trevor Baptiste, for most faceoff wins in the league at 158 and is boasting a 70.5 win percentage. Austin Shanks recorded one of his best games of his young career, netting a socktrick on the night. The Swarm capitalized on four power plays with goals coming from Jordan MacIntosh, Jordan Hall, Brendan Bomberry, and Bryan Cole on their six man up opportunities. Georgia is currently tied for the 4th and final guaranteed playoff spot in the East and will want to keep pace with the Wings.

Philadelphia Wings (5-6) at Buffalo Bandits (9-1) – 7:30pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

The Bandits and Wings will meet in the box for the first time this season on Saturday. In the 2019-20 season, the Wings defeated the Bandits 7-6 behind Zach Higgins 44 save night. Both teams are riding on three game streaks, except the Bandits are on the winning side while the Wings are on a losing streak. Last weekend the Bandits matched up with the FireWolves and won in an overtime thriller. The FireWolves did not go down without a fight and kept the score close at the end of each quarter. The game was taken into overtime with a score of 11-11. Kyle Buchanan netted one goal for the night, and it ended up being the most important goal. In just twenty-two seconds Buchanan found the back of the net and carried the Bandits to victory. The Bandits are thriving on their best ten-game stretch since 2003. Dhane Smith through 10 games is averaging seven points per game and is second in the NLL in points at that mark behind Joe Resetarits who has played two more games than Smith.

The Wings had a much needed bye-week last weekend after they lost 10-8 to the Thunderbirds back on February 26th and lost by the same score to the Thunderbirds the week prior. Matt Rambo was the only player for the Wings to exceed more than one goal throughout the game. Rambo scored a goal in the second, third, and fourth quarter, to complete a hattrick. The Wings netted four goals in the final fifteen, but it wasn’t enough to outscore the Thunderbirds. Even though their losses outweigh their wins for the season (5-6) they still sit at fourth, tied with the Swarm, in the Eastern Conference with the last guaranteed playoff spot. On paper, the Wings look to be one of the most complete teams, however in this latest stretch, they have yet to have a complete team performance. Look for Paul Day to try and inspire his club against one of the NLL’s best to try and get his 100th career regular season victory as a head coach. He would be the fifth in NLL history to reach that mark.

Toronto Rock (7-4) at Vancouver Warriors (5-5) – 10:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca

Despite losing to the New York Riptide in Week 13, the Rock came back last week to defeat the same team, 12-9 and keep their 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference. Vancouver on the other hand has lost two straight, to Panther City and Halifax respectively. Vancouver will be happy to have a much easier travel week to be at home whereas the Rock will have their furthest travel, playing their only game in the Pacific time zone. Despite being shut out in the first quarter of last weeks game to the Riptide, the Rock took control of the game in the second and third quarters. Dangerous Dan Dawson looked like his former MVP self with six points (2g, 4a). What a milestone game that was for him last week and what could be this week. He tied John Tavares for most games played in NLL history last week and could set the new mark this week at 307. With just two assists, he will surpass Tavares for most assists in league history at 935. Everyone will be keeping their eye out for his play this week.

Vancouver has been a streaky team this year and has dropped their last two games including having to travel three time zones over to play Halifax last week. Despite holding the third and final guaranteed playoff spot in the West, they do not want to drop any more games to see Calgary, Saskatchewan, or Panther City contest for their spot. Riley Loewen had one of his best performances as a Warrior last week, netting five goals and recording one assist. Kyle Killen has been impressing in his first season in Vancouver and added four goals and an assist in the loss. This game was one where the Warriors likely missed their key faceoff player in Tyrell Hamer-Jackson after only winning two of 30 faceoffs. Keep an eye out of who will be in net as the Warriors have bounced back and forth with Alex Buque and Steve Fryer in their last few games.

The last time these two played was in the 2019-20 season with the Rock winning 14-7 in Ontario. Rob Hellyer recorded a sock trick and two assists followed by Challen Rogers five points (2g, 3a). Nick Rose saved 33 of 39 shots. For the Warriors, Keegan Bal had three assist and Logan Schuss had four points (1g, 3a).