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What to Expect: Week 16

Thursday, March 17

Saskatchewan Rush (3-8) at Calgary Roughnecks (3-6) – 9:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca
On Thursday night, the Roughnecks and Rush will kick off the NLL action for Week 16 and a potential deciding weekend for both teams. Both Calgary and Saskatchewan will be coming into this game off a loss to the San Diego Seals. For the Rush, they fell 10-9 to the Seals last weekend in heartbreaking fashion. They started the game off on a high ending the first quarter on a 5-1 lead, and the second with an 8-4 lead. The second half looked a bit different, and the Seals took control of the turf. Robert Church scored the Rush’s only goal of the second half. The Seals would get the game winner with just two seconds remaining.

The Roughnecks enjoyed a bye-week last weekend following their 9-4 loss to the Seals on March 4th. The Roughnecks didn’t add a tally to the scoreboard until Curtis Dickson found the back of the net on a power play early in the second quarter. Shane Simpson put one in net during the third, followed by Dan Taylor and Tanner Cook scoring one each in the fourth. It was a low scoring game for the Roughnecks, which has been the trend as they fall to the bottom of the league standings for their average number of goals per game at 9.78.

Both teams were quite during the trade deadline much to everyone’s surprise given the number of potential unrestricted free agents the Rush may lose and for both teams to try and salvage their playoff hopes or acquiring pieces for the future.

This will be their second game against one another this season. Their last contest took place on December 11th at Sasktel Centre. The Roughnecks put the game in motion netting three straight goals. The Rush retaliated with three of their own before splitting the final two of the quarter to end the first tied 4-4. After heading into the half tied at six, the Roughnecks outscored the Rush to take a 10-7 lead. Goals by Dan Lintner, Josh Currier and Jeff Shattler would tie things up for the Rush. Zach Herreweyers netted his only of the night with under two minutes remaining to give the Roughnecks their first win of the season. Christian Del Bianco had a season high 49 saves in their first go around. These two will play again on March 26.
Friday, March 18
Vancouver Warriors (5-6) at Colorado Mammoth (6-4) – 9:30pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca
Both the Mammoth and Warriors had early season success and separated from each other when these two faced off in a home and home in the month of January although the games were a few weeks apart. Now, each team is on a losing streak and looking to break the trend to continue to solidify their playoff positioning in the Western Conference. The Warriors are coming in on a three game skid, losing to Panther City, Halifax, and Toronto respectively. The Mammoth are on a two game slide after losing Saskatchewan and Panther City. Both teams played in games where they were easily outplayed and will be looking to come back with a vengeance.  Vancouver lost 14-5 against the Rock, recording their second lowest goal total on the season. Colorado was shocked at home against Panther City, allowing a NLL season high 20 goals in their 20-14 loss.

The Mammoth made some big mid-week moves at the deadline, trading for the reigning Rookie of the Year and former number one overall pick, Tyson Gibson from the Riptide and Anthony Joaquim from the Wings. Out of the Mammoth lineup is alternate captain, Tyler Digby and Sam LeClair from the front door and Ron John out the back door. Joaquim led the Wings with nine blocked shots and was second in caused turnovers at 19. The right handed Gibson has not seen the same success this year with New York, only tallying 28 points in 11 games played, compared to 42 points in 12 games in his rookie campaign.

Good news for the Mammoth is they have already clinched the tiebreaker between these two clubs with their two wins over the Warriors in January. The Mammoth will look for the sweep to make sure they hold on to the second spot in the West. In the first matchup on January 7, fans may remember the incredible run the Warriors started the game on, scoring seven goals within the first five minutes of the game and led 9-2 after the first quarter. The Mammoth just kept crawling back and would get the game to a 12-10 deficit at halftime before outscoring the Warriors 8-3 in the second half to win the game 18-15. Ryan Lee had a NLL season high 10 assists and 12 points on the night along with Connor Robinson’s eight points (4g, 4a). Alex Buque was left in net for the majority of the game before being replaced by Steve Fryer for the remainder. Dillon Ward on the other end was replaced early in the first quarter for Tyler Carlson who gave up 10 goals on 47 shots faced. Kyle Killen totaled seven points (4g, 3a) and Mitch Jones with nine points (2g, 7a).

The next game for each of these teams was three weeks later on January 29 in a rematch of their first game but this time at the Loud House in Colorado. The Mammoth would hold the Warriors to their season low of four goals with Dillon Ward redeeming himself in a big way, saving 41 of 45 shots. Ryan Lee continued his solid play with a game high seven points (4g, 3a). Alex Buque had a good game on all accounts, holding the Mammoth to single digits and saving 46 of 55 shots. A very difficult task to secure the win when Ryan Martel led the Warriors in points with two (1g, 1a).
Saturday, March 19
Georgia Swarm (6-6) at Albany FireWolves (6-7) – 7:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca
During Week 10 of the season, the FireWolves and Swarm played a home and home weekend against one another. The first matchup went down at Gas South Arena in Georgia. The Swarm paced the first and second quarter to end the half at 8-5. Both teams scored three goals during the third quarter, and the Swarm maintained a three-goal lead at 11-8. The FireWolves outscored the Swarm in the final fifteen with five goals including tying the game at 11 with just over 10 minutes remaining. The Swarm would score 30 seconds later and managed to come out on top 14-13.

Their second matchup of the weekend on February 5th, this time at MVP Arena in New York, followed a similar pattern except this time the roles were reversed. The FireWolves controlled the first half of the game, ending the first half with an 8-4 lead. The Swarm went on to outscore FireWolves in the third, and then both teams netted three in the final frame. Both teams capitalized on their home-turf advantage securing at-home wins. Stars Joe Resetarits and Lyle Thompson helped carry their teams with 19 and 13 points respectively in both contests. Mike Poulin and Doug Jamieson played in net for both games.

Heading into their third and final showdown of the season, both teams are carrying in victories against the Thunderbirds from last weekend and are separated by just half a game in the standings, the fourth and final guaranteed playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The FireWolves played the Thunderbirds first on March 11th in Halifax. Joe Resetarits netted the first and only goal of the first quarter. The Thunderbirds put five in the net in the second frame and went into the half leading by one. The third quarter consisted of three special team goals, two shorthanded by Charlie Kitchen and one powerplay from Joe Resetarits to give the FireWolves the push they needed to win the game. Doug Jamieson and the Albany defense shutout the Thunderbirds offense in the third The FireWolves scored one more insurance goal which was needed as they would come out with an 8-7 victory.

The Thunderbirds had a quick travel turnaround to be in Georgia the next day to face off against the Swarm on the 12th. Brendan Bomberry netted the first goal at twenty-six seconds into the game and would complete a hattrick in the first quarter. The Thunderbirds scored four goals in the fourth quarter, but the lead put in place by the Swarm in the second and third quarter, including shutting out Halifax in the third quarter, would secure them the 10-9 win. Goalie Mike Poulin celebrated his 100th career win alongside Jordan Hall reaching his 800th career point. In a roundabout way, the Swarm were able to acquire Stephan LeBlanc after he was initially traded from Halifax to Panther City but hours later was sent to Georgia for a second round pick in the 2022 Entry Draft. More potentially exciting news for Swarm fans, Miles Thompson was placed on the active roster – evaluation list from the Covid protocol list.
Panther City Lacrosse Club (4-8) at Calgary Roughnecks (4-6) – 9:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca
Panther City finds themselves with the NLL’s second longest current win streak at three and surpassed the Rush in the standings heading into Week 16 for fifth in the West and are trailing the Roughnecks only in the tiebreaker which could change after this weekend depending on the outcomes of both Roughneck’s games.

Panther City is riding the high after scoring a franchise best 20 goals in their game last weekend in Colorado, led by Patrick Dodds with 11 (5g, 6a) and newcomer Dean Fairall with seven points (5g, 2a). In net, Nick Damude has settled in as the starting goaltender for the club in all three of those wins, saving 114 of 149 shots (.765 save percentage). While Panther City has gotten the wins, they will need to remain focused as it is seemingly unstable winning games while allowing 10, 16, and 14 respectively and depending on their young offense to outscore their opponents. This week, Panther City made two trades but the end result being they traded Dawson Theede to Halifax in exchange for Halifax’s second round pick in the 2024 draft and Georgia’s second round pick in the 2022 Entry Draft with Stephan LeBlanc only being a member of PCLC for a matter of hours.

Luckily for the Roughnecks, they get a rest day and will not have to travel as their second game of the weekend is also at home in Calgary. As it sits heading into Week 16, the Roughnecks would not qualify for the fourth spot in the west which would go to the Swarm right now at 6-6. Should the Roughnecks win both games this weekend, they will be right in the hunt with three of their final seven games against teams with losing records and two games against the Warriors who sit in the seed above the Roughnecks.

This is the second matchup between these two this season with one more coming on April 9. In the first game on February 20, the Roughnecks took the game 13-12 in Fort Worth, Panther City’s last loss. Panther City would get off to the quick 3-0 lead but then allow six straight to Calgary before going on a five goal run of their own in the second quarter. Tyler Burton would score a goal with one second remaining in the first half which would play big dividends for the Roughnecks heading into the second half where they would outscore PCLC 3-2 in each of the final two quarters to secure the win. Panther City was 5-6 on the powerplay but could not do enough to beat Christian Del Bianco in net or Tyler Pace on the other end who would end the game with a high of eight points (3g, 5a).
Rochester Knighthawks (3-8) at Saskatchewan Rush (3-9) – 9:30pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca
To cap off their doubleheader weekend, the Rush will face off against the Knighthawks for the first time since Rochester’s expansion in 2019-20. The Knighthawks were at-home last Saturday where they went head-to-head against the Riptide. The Riptide brought the energy during the first quarter with six goals for and none against. In the second quarter, the Knighthawks answered with six of their own but allowed two, which kept game within reach, trailing 8-6 to end the half. In the second half, neither team could go on a run with multiple goals in a row, each team traded goals for the remainder of the game and the eventual 15-12 loss for the Knighthawks. After the Riptide’s six goal scoring spree, the Knighthawks were unable to play catchup which ultimately led them to their third consecutive loss. Thomas Hoggarth racked up five goals, his season best and the highest number of goals scored by a single Knighthawks player in a game this season.

This Saturday will be the Knighthawks’ second game without Shawn Evans since he was traded to the Halifax Thunderbirds. In their first game without Shawn Evans, they still put up close to their season average in goals for which on the season is just north of 11 goals per game. The Knighthawks will certainly have to adjust losing Evans from their roster, but luckily with the talent from key offensive players, such as Holden Cattoni, Ryan Smith, Curtis Knight, Thomas Hoggarth, Turner Evans, and Charlie Bertrand, the Knighthawks have a good combination of youth and experience to lead their offense.
Colorado Mammoth (TBD) at San Diego Seals (8-2) – 10:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca
The final game of Week 16 will see the Mammoth travel early on Saturday to San Diego after playing the night before against the Warriors.

The Seals come into the game having squeaked out a win against a desperate Rush team in Week 15. The Rush took a 9-6 lead into the final frame but was unable to score a goal while allowing four to the Seals. Jeremy Noble would record his only point on the night, a goal, with two seconds remaining in regulation to give the Seals the win, 10-9. Wes Berg continues to be the workhorse in the offensive end for the Seals, scoring seven points (3g, 4a) in the win while Frank Scigliano held down the backend with 47 saves on 56 shots. Scigliano currently leads the league with a 7.89 goals against average and boasting league high .821 save percentage. Dillon Ward on the other end has a very respectable .814 save percentage but a higher goals against average due to the increased number of shots he sees on a per game basis. Colorado allows the most shots on goal this season at 54.40 shots, exactly 10 more than San Diego who leads the league.

The Seals were one of the active teams during the trade deadline on Tuesday, landing Brett Hickey from the Wings in exchange for a second round pick in the 2024 Entry Draft to bolster the left side of their offense.

In their first meeting this season, the Seals ruined the Mammoth’s home opener, 13-4. Scigliano saved 33 of 37 shots while being named first star of the game. Jeremy Noble had a game high six points (2g, 4a) against his former team, distributing two goals to Dane Dobbie, and one to each Mac O’Keefe and Tre Leclaire. Connor Robinson and Eli McLaughlin led the Mammoth with three points (2g, 1a) and (1g, 2a) respectively. While the Seals didn’t take full advantage of their man up opportunities, the Mammoth were penalized for a total of 23 minutes, 12 more than the Seals spending the majority of time a man down and trying to prevent the Seals from scoring versus trying to get their own opportunities. The Mammoth have drawn a league low 82 penalty minutes but have also committed the lowest number of minor penalties.

The second and fourth quarters could decide the game as the Seals are a combined +26 in those whereas the Mammoth are a -5. Should San Diego win this game, they will take the season series against the Mammoth. Should the Mammoth win, the tie-breaking game will be held on April 9. The Seals have been a thorn in the Colorado’s side, going 4-1 in regular season games against the Mammoth.