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What to Expect: Week 17

All games can be seen on ESPN+ and TSN+

Fri. March 24

Seals (9-2) at Panther City (8-5) – 8:30pm ET

March is truly maddening and Week 17 offers up multiple games with key playoff implications including the lone matchup Friday night between the first place Seals heading to third place Panther City.

The Seals continue to roll and prove why they are number one in the West and towards the top of the league standings. Last week they took down the Vancouver Warriors at Rogers Arena 16-9. It was a full 60 minutes for the Seals, scoring eight goals in each half led by Kevin Crowley, Curtis Dickson, Wes Berg and Austin Staats all having three or more goals each. Frank Scigliano in net saved 35 of 44 shots, plenty good to get the win. The defense worked hard to only allow those 44 shots on net (compared to 67 for the Seals offense on the other end). The Seals took advantage of their man-up opportunities, converting on five of seven chances.

Panther City took another big step in potentially clinching their first playoff berth with a win over the Desert Dogs last week, 11-8. Panther City would only have a one goal advantage heading into the fourth, but two quick goals would extend their lead and close out Las Vegas. Will Malcom and Jonathan Donville played key distribution roles, combining for nine assists and two goals. Nick Damude had another game allowing less than 10 goals, saving 35 of 43 shots in the win.

This is the second and final game between these two this season. San Diego took the 12-10 win on February 4 at Pechanga Arena. The Seals came out hot, scoring nine goals by half and taking a 9-5 lead into the break. Nick Damude stepped up in the second half but was not enough to get the win. Jonathan Donville had seven points and Mathieu Gautier had four goals for PCLC. Austin Staats and Dane Dobbie each had hattricks for the Seals.

March 25

Rock (10-4) at FireWolves (2-10) – 7pm ET

A seven game Saturday begins with the Rock still looking to clinch their playoff berth against Albany, only needing a win to do so.

Toronto had a chance to clinch the first spot in the 2023 postseason with a win last week but fell to a hungry Halifax team 14-12. A back-and-forth affair saw the largest run of only three goals all game from Halifax early in the third. Dan Craig led the Rock with four goals on the night while Latrell Harris contributed with a goal, two assists, a blocked shot and four loose balls. Greg Downing made his debut in a Rock uniform and blocked three shots, two caused turnovers and got a loose ball.

Albany lost their eighth straight game last weekend, this time falling to the Riptide 13-10. Outside of scoring the first goal of the game, the FireWolves were playing catchup all game long. They would score four straight goals to close out the game but by that point, it was already out of hand. Ethan Walker scored four for Albany and Marshall Powless made his debut with the team, scoring a goal and had four assists. Too many penalties hurt this team, allowing New York to score on four of seven man-up opportunities.

This is the second and final matchup between these two with the Rock taking game one, 12-6 on March 11. It was a tight game through three quarters, an 8-6 lead for Toronto but a 4-0 fourth would put the game away. Six different FireWolves scored their six goals while Stephen Keogh stole the show for Toronto with seven points (4g, 3a).

Thunderbirds (6-7) at Wings (6-7) – 7pm ET

The fourth and fifth place teams in the East face off in one of the crucial matchups as we go down the stretch of the regular season.

Halifax got a huge victory last week against the Toronto Rock at home by a 14-12 final. It felt like a playoff game in front of 9,957 fans in the Nest and the game did not disappoint. The largest lead was just two goals all game. Five different Thunderbirds would have multi-goal games, led by Chris Boushy with three. Graeme Hossack looked like the defenseman that won multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards with two assists, three blocked shots, four caused turnovers and 11 loose ball recoveries. Warren Hill outlasted Nick Rose, saving 40 of 52 shots.

The Wings went 1-1 last weekend, losing the game many thought they would win and winning the game many thought they would lose given the doubleheader weekend. In game one, they hosted Georgia and fell in a one goal game (making it seven straight one goal games with the Swarm). Joe Resetarits and Blaze Riorden had identical stat lines with four goals and five assists each. Zach Higgins tried his best to keep the team within striking distance, saving 46 of 59 shots. Game two on Sunday saw the Wings defeat the Knighthawks in Rochester 9-8 in overtime. Higgins added another 48 saves in this game and Blaze Riorden scored the game winner, his lone goal on the night. The Wings added a familiar face at the trade deadline to their defensive unit, acquiring Liam Byrnes from Panther City.

Heading into the final weeks of the regular season, this game means a lot for both teams. Halifax took game one of their two regular season matchups on December 2 by an 18-8 final. The Thunderbirds scored early and often with four players all recording at least three goals. Randy Staats had seven points (1g, 6a) in his debut at the Nest. Blaze Riorden scored five for the Wings in the losing effort. Should Halifax win, they will take the tiebreaker over the Wings. If Philadelphia wins, it will come down to their in-conference win percentage should they have the same record at the end of the regular season.

Swarm (3-8) at Riptide (4-9) – 7:30pm ET

Both Georgia and New York come into this game off a big win last week.

The Swarm got back at the Wings with a one goal win 13-12 in Philadelphia. Late in the second, the Swarm found themselves down 6-3 but would score four straight to take the one goal lead before the teams traded goals for the remainder of the game. Lyle Thompson, Shayne Jackson and Andrew Kew each had eight or more points in the win. Brett Dobson saved 42 of 54 shots in the win.

New York got a dominant win over the FireWolves 13-10 last week. Despite the three goal difference the Riptide had the game all but wrapped early in the fourth quarter. Jeff Teat added 10 more points to his season total, now at 106 with five games to play. Cameron Dunkerley has provided some stability in net for this team who has struggled most of the season in that department. He saved 35 of 45 shots in the win and limited Albany to one powerplay goal in five chances.

This is the first game of a home-and-home series between these two teams. While it may be too little too late for a post season run, these two teams have some exciting talent on each side. It’s been a minute since these two have seen each other. The last game was on February 12, 2022 with the Swarm taking the 13-11 win at home. Jeff Teat had nine points (3g, 6a) while Lyle Thompson and Shayne Jackson combined for 13 points (7g, 6a).

Roughnecks (9-4) at Rush (5-7) – 9:30pm ET

The Roughnecks and Rush play the second half of their home-and-home miniseries. Last week, the Roughnecks took the 11-6 win in front of the largest NLL crowd this season of 17,444. With their other win over the Rush on February 10, they have clinched the season series already.

Calgary got off to a hot start, scoring six of the first seven goals of the game. They would not score during the third quarter but would put up five in the fourth to outlast the Rush. Tyler Pace and Jesse King combined for 15 of the teams 25 points and seven of the 11 goals. Christian Del Bianco had a wonderful game in net, saving 32 of just the 38 shots he saw all night.

For the Rush, they mounted a four goal run to get within one but could not keep the momentum. Robert Church was the only multi-goal scorer for Saskatchewan. Mark Matthews was held to just one point all night. Alex Buque played a solid three quarters in goal but was relieved for Eric Penney when the Roughnecks scored five goals in less than three minutes. The Rush looked to add to their offensive depth and experience, acquiring Rhys Duch from Colorado prior to the trade deadline.

Bandits (10-3) at Seals (TBD) – 10pm ET – ESPNEWS

A potential NLL Finals preview will take us to the West leading San Diego Seals who will host the East leading Bandits.

After recalculations, Buffalo became the first team to clinch a playoff berth last weekend despite falling to the familiar Colorado Mammoth at home by a 13-8 final. The Bandits would score four of the first five goals in the first but would be outscored 12-4 the rest of the way. They just did not have the answers to beat this Colorado defense. Josh Byrne led the team in points with six but the story could be focused on the penalties and physical play, as two fights broke out and each team spent a lot of time in the penalty box. This team is starting to get all their pieces back and could take a week or two to work out the kinks but once at full speed, watch out.

The Seals play the night before in Texas before heading back home where they are 4-1 on the season. Buffalo is 0-1 against the West this season with their loss last weekend and the Seals are 1-0 this season, defeating the Riptide 15-14 in Week 1. The Seals could also clinch a playoff berth this weekend, needing to win both games to do so. A wonky stat for the day, Curtis Dickson leads the NLL with six short handed goals this season, the next closest is a tie with three.

San Diego last played Buffalo on December 7, 2019 and lost 13-10 in Banditland. Matt Vinc outdueled Frank Scigliano saving 49 of 59 shots compared to 41 of 52 shots.

Mammoth (6-6) at Warriors (3-10) – 10pm ET

The defending champs have life after a critical win last week and will look to make it two in a row versus the Warriors.

Prior to last weekend’s game, Colorado was on the outside looking in for the postseason but with a win and Saskatchewan loss, they are now slated into the fourth spot in the West. Trailing early against Buffalo, Warren Jeffrey got the boys motivated after a fight with Steve Priolo. Momentum swung in the Mammoth’s favor as they would score four straight after the scuffle. When healthy, the Mammoth have the tools they need to win a championship. The offense looked dynamic (after the first quarter), defensively they were physical and in net, Dillon Ward saved 38 of 46 shots seen to follow up his Finals MVP performance. This team was the most active during the trade deadline, trading Rhys Duch to Saskatchewan and acquiring defenseman Garrett McIntosh from the Las Vegas Desert Dogs.

Vancouver fell last week to San Diego 16-9. Penalty killing was difficult as they allowed five powerplay goals on seven opportunities on the night. They were also outshot 67-44. Aaron Bold had 51 saves but was not enough to keep them in this game. Chase Scanlan had one of the best games of his young career, scoring three goals on four shots on goal. Reid Bowering keeps producing on the backend with two blocked shots, 16 loose ball recoveries, and four caused turnovers. He sits second in loose balls at 182 (five behind Jake Withers for first), tied for fourth in forced turnovers at 25, and leads the league in blocked shots at 20.

This is the first game between these two this season, with game two coming on April 8 in Colorado. Last season, the Mammoth had a couple of unreal comebacks against the Warriors. On March 18, 2022, the Mammoth would trail 14-9 entering the final quarter. Eli McLaughlin scored four of the seven goals that would lead to overtime, and then score the game winner to boot. Keegan Bal for Vancouver had eight goals of his own and Ryan Lee had 12 assists in the 17-16 final.

Knighthawks (9-4) at Desert Dogs (4-8) – 10:30pm ET

Saturday night concludes with Rochester heading to Sin City to take on the Desert Dogs.

Rochester lost a competitive game against the Wings in overtime, a game where they held a two goal lead halfway through the fourth quarter. Despite trailing early, the Knighthawks battled back and would score five straight to gain that two goal lead in the fourth. Ryan Smith, Holden Cattoni and Connor Fields each had two goals. Rylan Hartley picked up on his strong play after a poor (but winning) performance the week prior, saving 45 of 54 shots. Unfortunately just 19 second into the extra frame, Blaze Riorden would score the game winner for the Wings.

Las Vegas lost their third and final matchup against Panther City this season 11-8. They will be happy to see any other team on their schedule as they try to make a late season push into the playoffs. It was a close game throughout but the Desert Dogs could not keep pace in the second and fourth quarters of this game, being outscored 8-2 in those frames. Jack Hannah had a tough game, only recording two points (1g, 1a) with 11 shots on goal. Tor Reinholdt did all he could with two assists, 11 loose ball recoveries, a blocked shot and two caused turnovers.

Playoff Scenarios

The Albany FireWolves will be eliminated from playoff contention with:

  • A loss vs Toronto, AND a Halifax win at Philadelphia, AND either a Colorado win at Vancouver OR a Saskatchewan win vs Calgary.

The Buffalo Bandits have clinched a playoff berth

The San Diego Seals can clinch a playoff berth with:

  • Wins at Panther City AND versus Buffalo

The Toronto Rock can clinch a playoff berth with:

  • A win at Albany

 

NLL