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What to Expect: Week 16

All games can be seen on ESPN+ and TSN+

Fri. March 17

Rush (5-6) at Roughnecks (8-4) – 9pm ET

The Battle of the Prairies starts an incredible Week 16 lineup of established or budding rivalries. The Rush and Roughnecks come in off differing results but with a need-to-win mindset on this Saint Patrick’s Day.

Saskatchewan played at home against the West leading Seals last weekend and looked sluggish through the first three quarters of the game, only mustering four goals through 45 minutes of play. The comeback effort was on, outscoring San Diego 7-2 in the final frame but fell just one goal short of forcing overtime, 12-11. Clark Walter had the best game of his young career, scoring five goals in the effort including four in the fourth quarter, earning him rookie of the week honors. They have now lost three straight games.

Calgary got the road win in Colorado proving that speed can kill. The final in this contest was 16-10 but the Roughnecks led 11-3 at the half. Zach Currier, Shane Simpson, and Mitch Wilde each had two goals to continuously put the pressure on the Mammoth offense to need to score, but also to get off the floor to get their defense on before more transition goals could be had.

Calgary took game one of this series earlier this season on February 10 by a 13-6 final. It was a tied 3-3 game at the half, but the Roughnecks would score five goals in the first five minutes of the second half to establish themselves for the remainder of the game. Tanner Cook scored three of his four in the second half. Zach Currier had a stat line of two goals, three assists, 16 loose balls, a blocked shot and four caused turnovers. If Saskatchewan wins, the season series will be decided next weekend when they play each other again on March 25 but this time in Saskatchewan.

Seals (8-2) at Warriors (3-9) – 10pm ET

Game two on Friday is a battle of West coast teams at different ends of the West Conference but with both teams coming off impressive victories.

As mentioned, the Seals got off to a great start against Saskatchewan, scoring the first four and leading 10-4 through three. It was another week of questions in net that do not seem to be resolved at this stage of the season as Frank Scigliano got the start in this game and impressed, saving 50 of 61 shots despite allowing the last five goals in the final seven minutes. Patrick Shoemay was all over the floor with a goal, two assists, 11 loose balls, a blocked shot and two caused turnovers.

Vancouver got their third win of the season and second straight last weekend in Las Vegas by a 14-5 final. It was a relentless effort and great execution by the Warriors. Keegan Bal (2g, 6a) and Ryan Martel (5g, 3a) each collected eight points while Aaron Bold has provided great play and stability in net since returning to the franchise. Against Las Vegas, he saved 38 of 43 shots.

San Diego won the first matchup on January 7. Too much firepower for the Seals led to the 16-11 win despite being outshot by the Warriors. Chris Origlieri got the start in that game, saving 37 of 48 shots. Dane Dobbie and Austin Staats both had four goals for the Seals. Reid Bowering for the Warriors had three points (1g, 2a), 20 loose balls, three blocked shots and two caused turnovers.

Sat. Mar. 18

Georgia (2-8) at Philadelphia (5-6) – 11am ET

Something about Georgia and Philadelphia always makes for great lacrosse games. Their last six games have been decided by one goal with three of them being decided in overtime.

The Swarm played in a wild game last week against the Knighthawks, losing 19-18 at the final whistle. The goals were coming from all directions and in all different ways. Each team had a run of five goals at points in this game and yet was still a close game throughout. Shayne Jackson and Seth Oakes each contributed with five goals to their team total while Jeremy Thompson went 26-39 at the faceoff which became crucial down the final minutes of the game but was not enough to take the win.

Right when we thought the Wings were going to go on a streak to secure a playoff spot, they fall to the Riptide 13-10 last weekend. Potentially coming in with tired legs from two games the prior weekend, the Wings started off slow, trailing 4-1 after the first. The acquisition of Mitch Jones has rejuvenated his play and this offense. He had nine points on the 10 goals (4g, 5a) and team was 3-5 on the powerplay. Unfortunately, they ran into a hungry Riptide team who used their runs to control the outcome. Trevor Baptiste did it again, going a perfect 27-27 from the faceoff dot, an incredible feat and show of dominance for the second time this season.

Despite the number of one goal games, Philadelphia has the edge, winning five of six of those games. On December 17, Philadelphia came back to win 13-12 in the fourth. Georgia had the largest lead of the game at three goals early in the third quarter but the Wings would use a run of five goals to take the lead. Joe Resetarits, Ben McIntosh, and Blaze Riorden each had three goals while Zach Higgins saved 37 of 49 shots. The Swarm had five players who each scored two goals each but was not enough. A lot has changed between these two teams since Week 3 but hopefully we see another tight contest.

Rock (10-3) at Thunderbirds (5-7) – 6pm ET

A rematch of last season’s thrilling Quarterfinal matchup sees the Rock heading to Halifax. This time though, Toronto can be the first team to clinch a playoff berth with a win.

Toronto played a competitive game against the FireWolves last week but pulled away with a 4-0 fourth quarter for the 12-6 win. The Rock offense would double the shots on goal then what their defense allowed on their own net. Stephen Keogh got his fair share of floor swipes, with four goals highlighted by his iconic celebration. It was another impressive defensive effort for the Rock, allowing less than 10 goals in seven of 13 games this year. They still have yet to add Chris Corbeil to their lineup and now added veteran Greg Downing to their team.

The Thunderbirds almost pulled off the win in Banditland last week but would fall in overtime 10-9. An impressive six goal run would give them the 9-6 lead early in the fourth quarter but as fans know, no lead is safe in this league. Buffalo would answer with three straight to force the extra frame before Chris Cloutier would bury the game winner. A competitive game and great outing does little for the moral of Halifax as they have another crucial matchup as they continue to fight for a playoff spot.

The Rock defeated the Thunderbirds on January 14 fairly easily, 17-8. Halifax had played the night before in a losing effort but was sluggish through this game. Drew Hutchison got the start in net for Halifax and saved 41 of 58 shots. Despite the high save count, seeing that many shots on an inexperienced goaltender is not a recipe for success. Ryan Benesch had a team high five points (2g, 3a). The hero from last season’s Quarterfinal, Challen Rogers, scored two penalty shots but also added 10 loose balls, three blocked shots, and two caused turnovers.

FireWolves (2-9) at Riptide (3-9) – 7:30pm ET

Albany heads to Long Island for a battle of young New York based franchises.

Another game for the FireWolves and the same issue persists of not being able to score enough goals to content in games. Albany scored at the 10:53 mark in the third to tie the game 6-6 but would not score the remainder of the game, allowing six to Toronto. Six different players scored their six goals. Doug Jamieson did his best to keep the team within striking distance, saving 50 of 62 shots seen from a potent Toronto offense. Albany traded for forward Marshall Powless earlier in the week from Saskatchewan.

The Riptide had one of their best performances to date and looking to spoil more seasons on the home stretch of the season and maybe get into the hunt for the last playoff spot. Against Philadelphia, they would use their perfect powerplay, 4-4, to win 13-10. Jeff Teat and Reilly O’Connor each had a hattrick but with the normal story being their defense’s inability to keep the opposition from scoring, they held Philadelphia to just 10 goals. Cameron Dunkerley got the start in net and saved 48 of 58 shots to get his second career win in his second career start. All of that without winning a single faceoff this game too.

A team predicated on defense and another on offense, which will we see this weekend? Last time out on February 11 saw New York take the 14-12 win despite being outshot 62-43. To their credit, the FireWolves were down 12-4 at one point in the third and clawed their way back to 12-11. Jeff Teat would score his sixth and seventh goals of the night in a span of 22 seconds to seal the game. Steve Orleman saved 50 of 62 shots he saw while Justin Geddie came in for relief for Albany in the third quarter, saving 17 of 22 shots.

Mammoth (5-6) at Bandits (10-2) – 7:30pm ET

Saturday continues with a rematch of the 2022 NLL Finals between the Mammoth and Bandits who have similar narratives but are moving in different direction this season.

The Mammoth have struggled with injuries but have struggled to put consistent games together for their title defense. They were ran out of their building last week against the Roughnecks, who scored seven goals from their transition players. Colorado did get good scoring from their secondary options in Zed Williams and Dylan Kinnear but Eli McLaughlin and Connor Robinson were both scoreless. Dillon Ward had a game he’d like to forget, saving just 23 of 36 shots but as mentioned, many were in one-on-one situations which is not ideal.

The Bandits too have struggled with injuries but continue to find ways to win. In fact, they have multiple scenarios to clinch a playoff spot which can be found at the bottom of the article. Last week they welcomed back Josh Byrne and Chris Cloutier to the lineup and sent Banditland home happy, with a 10-9 overtime win in front of 14,896 fans. Buffalo would find themselves down 9-6 early in the fourth but Kyle Buchanan went to work, scoring two of the three goals to force overtime. Chris Cloutier would play hero, scoring the game winner and his fourth of the night.

The Bandits are trying to keep their first-place position in the East while Colorado is fighting to get into the postseason. Last year, the Mammoth defeated the Bandits in the regular season (in Colorado) and took two of three to win the NLL Cup. In Game 3 of the Finals, Dillon Ward saved 55 of 63 shots to earn Finals MVP, highlighted by his record setting performance in this game. Zed Williams led the offenses with six points (4g, 2a). Chris Wardle had an impactful game with six of his own (1g, 5a). For the Bandits, their two strongest players in Dhane Smith and Josh Byrne were limited to just seven points combined (2g, 5a).

Desert Dogs (4-7) at Panther City (7-5) – 8pm ET

The battle of the last two expansion franchises takes us to Panther City for the last game Saturday night with a rivalry in the making in the West Conference.

The Desert Dogs were starting to make a push for the playoffs but suffered a setback last weekend against the Warriors, 14-5. From the start, they were outplayed in almost every facet of the game and trying to play catchup. To make that effort more difficult, they committed 29 minutes of penalties and allowed Vancouver to score on four of seven powerplay opportunities. We have seen when this team plays disciplined, they tend to compete. John Wagner had a standout performance with 14 loose balls, a blocked shot and five caused turnovers. Rookie standouts in Jon Phillips and Jack Hannah combined for just three points (2g, 1a).

Panther City had an off week and are looking to continue their push for the post season. They have matched their win total from their inaugural season with seven games left to play. Last game out against Saskatchewan, Panther City took the 16-10 win with a second half beatdown of the Rush, at one point scoring eight of nine goals to pad their lead. Panther City also has two rookie standouts scoring for them this season in Jonathan Donville and Mathieu Gautier who are first and fourth respectively in rookie scoring (With LV’s Hannah and Phillips sandwiched between).

These two saw each other their first two games of the season with Panther City taking both games. Game one was close, with a 13-11 final. Game two was the inaugural home game for Las Vegas which Panther City ruined the party for the home fans with a 9-3 win. It was a low scoring game until the fourth quarter where Panther City scored the last five. Emotions would run high in the final minutes highlighted by Tyler Burton and Rob Hellyer getting into a scrape. Will those emotions carry over?

Sun. March 19

Wings (TBD) at Knighthawks (9-3) – 3pm ET

Another weekend of Sunday lacrosse hopefully makes for as an exciting game as the Knighthawks versus Swarm game from last weekend. Both these teams have a long history in their markets and want to establish new tradition.

The Wings by the end of the weekend will have played five games over the course of three weeks. They are currently 2-1 in the stretch and can help solidify their positioning in the playoffs with another two-win weekend. How much will they have in the tank to take on a 9-3 Knighthawks team?

Rochester played in the wild game last Sunday where they beat the Swarm, 19-18, holding on in the final seconds of the game. It was not a strong showing for the goaltenders but the offenses looked dialed in with seemingly everything finding the back of the net. Connor Fields would have a hattrick before the Swarm would get their first goal, including a shorthanded goal. Four players had at least a hattrick for the Knighthawks and veteran defenseman Dan Coates, contributed a rare goal to help the team get the win.

Last time out between these two was last season on March 26 with the Wings taking the 12-8 win. The Wings were on the cusp of the playoffs while Rochester was all but eliminated from the postseason so this game will have a different tune to it. Philadelphia took a 9-2 lead at the half and never looked back. Blaze Riorden who has been on a tear this year, had four points (2g, 2a). For Rochester, Ryan Smith and Thomas Hoggarth each had two goals. Tyler Biles was ejected early in the game, just 18 seconds into the game when trying to fight Ben McIntosh. Has time healed this wound?

Playoff Scenarios

The Buffalo Bandits can clinch a playoff berth with:

  • Win vs Colorado; OR
  • Halifax loss vs Toronto: OR
  • Philadelphia losses vs Georgia AND Rochester

The Toronto Rock can clinch a playoff berth with:

  • Win vs Halifax
NLL