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What to Expect: Week 18

All games can be seen on ESPN+ and TSN+

Fri. March 31

Riptide (4-10) v Swarm (4-8) – 7pm ET – ESPNEWS

Friday night starts us off with two of the biggest stars in the name of lacrosse in Jeff Teat and the New York Riptide travel to take on Lyle Thompson and the Georgia Swarm in a rematch from last week which saw the Swarm taking the 13-8 win in New York.

It was a fast and furious start for the Swarm, scoring six straight goals to start the game and would lead 7-1 at the end of the first. By halftime, the Swarm kept their margin, 11-5.

The second half scoring slowed down but the lead was too much for the Riptide to make a comeback. Andrew Kew and Lyle Thompson combined for 16 points (8g, 8a) for the Swarm and Brett Dobson in net saved 42 of 50 shots. Dobson may be creeping up the Rookie of the Year rankings, now with a 4-5 record, 11.72 goals against average and a 76% save percentage and with the Swarm winning four of their last five games.

For New York, Jeff Teat added seven more points to his season total, now sitting at a league lead of 113 points with four games remaining. He will likely hit his 50th goal of the season this weekend, a league lead as well and the first player since Kevin Crowley to hit that mark since the 2018 season.

Desert Dogs (5-8) v Mammoth (6-7) – 9pm ET

The expansion Desert Dogs sit just a game behind the defending champions in the standings with only a few weeks remaining.

Las Vegas got an emotional win last week in their first rendition of Tucker Out Lymphoma in honor of head coach/general manager Shawn William’s son, Tucker. Taking on the Rochester Knighthawks, the Desert Dogs used a five goal second quarter to help take a lead they would not relinquish. Rob Hellyer led the way for the Desert Dogs with nine points (2g, 7a) while Jack Hannah added four goals to his season total, leading all rookies in the category at 25. Landon Kells added another game to his season total allowing less than 10 goals in a game, now with four on the year.

The Mammoth are a tough team to figure out. In one week, they hold the league-leading Bandits to eight total goals in a five-goal margin of victory, then lose to the last place Vancouver Warriors 14-12 the week after. Colorado almost pulled off another come from behind victory over the Warriors, scoring five straight to get within one but Chase Scanlan scored the insurance goal to hold off the Mammoth in the final minutes. Zed Williams and Connor Robinson each contributed with four goals. As of now, the Mammoth are on the right side of the playoff race but will not want to lose their positioning with both Saskatchewan and Las Vegas on their heels.

This is the second and last time these two will face each other this regular season. In game one, Las Vegas took the 13-8 victory at home. Along with their win last weekend, it was their largest margin of victory on the season. In that last matchup, the Mammoth had played the night prior and could have had tired legs, but still allowed Jack Hannah to record a socktrick, the first in Desert Dogs history. The Mammoth is 4-2 at home this season while Las Vegas is 1-5 on the road.

Roughnecks (10-4) v Seals (10-3) – 10pm ET

Another key matchup closes out a busy Friday with the West leading Seals hosting the second place Roughnecks in what could decide fate of first place in the West. Regardless, the winner of this game will clinch the first playoff spot for the West Conference.

During the Roughnecks three game win streak, they are outscoring their opponents 41-22. For the last two weeks, they held the Rush to a combined 12 goals in two games. Tanner Cook last weekend recorded a socktrick while Christian Del Bianco saved 43 of 49 shots. CDB now has the second lowest goals against average at 9.21 (trailing Nick Rose at 9.12) but has the best save percentage at 81.78% among all goaltenders with over 100 saves.

The Seals played twice last weekend and almost took both matchups. In their first against Panther City, they took a 17-9 win in Fort Worth behind Wes Berg’s 10 points night (3g, 7a). The defense and goaltending held strong, with Chris Origlieri saving 35 of 44 shots. Game two was a much lower scoring game against the Bandits. Frank Scigliano got the start and looked superb but was outdone by his opponent in Matt Vinc despite saving 37 of 44 shots. The Seals would fall in overtime, 7-6 in what could be an NLL Finals preview.

Whoever wins this game will take the season series against the other which could play big in the final standings. San Diego took game one 17-14 on December 30 while Calgary took game two on January 14. The common theme between both games was the quick start for the winning team. In both games, the winning team would get off to a quick 5-0 lead and hold on for the remaining time.

Sat. April 1

Bandits (11-3) v Rock (11-4) – 7pm ET – ESPNU/Game of the Week on TSN

Another behemoth matchup sees the top of the East up for grabs between the Rock and Bandits being show on televisions across North America on ESPNU and as the Game of the Week on TSN.

The Bandits held on last week in a physical and low scoring game against the San Diego Seals. Heading into the fourth quarter down by one, Chris Cloutier would score the tying goal halfway through the period, the only goal of the quarter. Just 52 seconds into overtime Steve Priolo would score the game winner to win 7-6. Matt Vinc looked at peak form, saving 49 of 55 shots against the high-powered Seals offense, their only game to date scoring under 10.

Toronto had a tough matchup against the Albany FireWolves where they held on late to win, 11-9. Just four seconds after Albany would get within one goal with under a minute remaining, Latrell Harris would put the game away. Despite outshooting the FireWolves 58-42, the Rock was unable to capitalize on more of their opportunities. Dan Craig had the best night for the Rock offense with five points (3g, 2a).

Two of the Rock’s final four games are against these Bandits, who took the first game of three this season back on December 17 with an 11-8 final. A combined 6-1 second and third quarter advantage for the Bandits helped propel their victory. Matt Vinc was at the top of his game, saving 52 of 60 shots while Corey Small and Tom Schreiber each had hattricks for the Rock. As mentioned, these two will play one more time on April 22, which could decide the East regular season champion.

FireWolves (2-11) v Panther City (8-6) – 8pm ET

An East v West matchup sees the first ever game between the FireWolves and the Panther City Lacrosse Club.

Albany is on the outside but looking to play spoiler for the remainder of their season and they almost had a big one last week against Toronto. Despite being outshot by 16, the FireWolves would fall late to the Toronto Rock, 11-9. Doug Jamieson had one of his best outings of the season, saving 47 of 57 shots while Marshall Powless continues to gel with his new team, recording four points (1g, 3a).

Panther City took a hit in their hopes to host a first-round playoff game with their loss last week, but luckily kept their positioning in the playoff race with losses by Colorado and Saskatchewan. It was an offensive onslaught by the Seals on Panther City in the first half last weekend. The Seals would lead 13-5 at the midpoint. On the season, Will Malcom and Jonathan Donville are both top-10 in points, with Donville leading all rookies at 77 (with the next closest at 48). His 77 points are already top 10 all-time by a rookie with still four games remaining. The young team got a bad taste in their mouth and will look to avenge their loss at home against these FireWolves.

There is no history between these two on the floor but Jake Fox has played for both clubs this season. Albany’s two wins have come on the road while PCLC is 5-2 at home this year.

Warriors (4-10) v Rush (5-8) – 9:30pm ET

It’s hard to believe at one point, the Rush were 5-3 battling for the top of the West while Vancouver was 1-9 and all but hoping for the season to end. Now Vancouver has won three of four (including a win against Saskatchewan) while the Rush have lost five straight.

Vancouver took the win last weekend against the Mammoth, 14-12. Early in the fourth they would hold a 13-7 lead but would let the Mammoth claw their way back in before Chase Scanlan buried his third of the night to close out Colorado. Aaron Bold continues his strong play, saving 41 of 53 shots while the offense got scoring from everywhere, with nine players scoring on the night. Reid Bowering would add an assist, a blocked shot, two caused turnovers and 14 loose balls on the night.

The Rush lost their second straight to Calgary in two weeks, this time 14-6. Being shutout in the first quarter put the team behind from the get-go. For a team that seemingly figured out their issues from last season, both the offense and defense have struggled during their losing streak, allowing 13.8 goals per game and scoring just nine goals per game. Mark Matthews was held to just one point on a goal while Austin Madronic, Clark Walter and newly acquired Rhys Duch had zero points out the front door. Alex Buque was pulled just 7:29 into their last game as his late season woes continue.

The season series between these two is tied at one. Last time out on February 25, the Warriors took the 16-12 win in Saskatchewan. Adam Charalambides, Shawn Evans, Keegan Bal, and Kyle Killen all had hattricks in Aaron Bold’s first win after signing as a free agent. Robert Church was held without a goal on 19 shots on goal for the Rush.

Sun. April 2

Swarm (TBD) v Thunderbirds (7-7) – 1pm ET

The Swarm could make the playoff race very interesting should they win both games this weekend. That would place them at six wins and just a half game behind these Thunderbirds. With one or two losses, it would hurt their chances as they would have nine losses and would likely have to win out to try for a playoff spot.

Halifax got a crucial win against the Wings last weekend in Philadelphia by a 14-10 final. The Thunderbirds would double up the Wings in the first half, 8-4 but let the game get back to within one goal four different times. Halifax scored the final three goals to bury the Wings at the final whistle. Ryan Terefenko was a large contributor from the backend, scoring two goals, adding an assist and seven loose balls.

This is the first time these two have seen each other this season. Last year they split their two games. In their last game on March 12, 2022, Georgia held on late to win 10-9, despite being outshot 51-36. Cody Jamieson, Eric Fannell, Clarke Petterson, and Chris Boushy each had two goals for Halifax. Lyle Thompson and Brendan Bomberry each had three in the win.

Knighthawks (9-5) v Wings (6-8) – 6pm ET

Week 18 closes off with another important matchup in the East. With a win, the Knighthawks would not only catchup on either the Rock or Bandits to potentially host a home playoff game in the first-round but secure the third open playoff spot while Philadelphia needs a win to try to catch the Thunderbirds in the East.

Rochester suffered just its second lopsided loss on the season to Las Vegas with a 12-7 final in Sin City. The Knighthawks were unable to put a meaningful run together to catch the Desert Dogs. Parker Pipher in his first game played with the team scored two goals and added an assist in transition.

The Wings come in off a rough outing, losing to Halifax at home 14-10. At multiple times in the second half the Wings would come within one but would allow a Thunderbirds goal to extend the lead. Mitch Jones has played fantastic for the Wings, and, if the team makes the playoffs, could receive heavy consideration for MVP. He has already set a career high in points at 98 and sits third in the NLL in the category.

These two have seen each other once and will have one more game during the last week of the regular season. On March 19, the Wings took the 9-8 win at Blue Cross Arena in overtime. A rare game to see zero penalties from either team made for a strong five on five battle. Blaze Riorden scored the OT winner, his first and only goal of the game in his return to his hometown. The story was how good the defenses and goaltending were. Zach Higgins and Rylan Hartley combined for 89 saves on 103 shots, making every goal come at a premium.

Playoff Scenarios

The Albany FireWolves will be eliminated from playoff contention with:

    • Loss at Panther City; OR
    • Colorado Win vs. Las Vegas

The Calgary Roughnecks will clinch a playoff berth with:

    • Win at San Diego, OR
    • Las Vegas loss at Colorado, OR
    • Panther City win vs. Albany

The New York Riptide will be eliminated from playoff contention with:

    • Loss at Georgia AND one of the following
    • Colorado Win vs. Las Vegas, OR
    • Georgia Win at Halifax, AND Philadelphia win vs Rochester, AND Albany loss at Panther City

The Rochester Knighthawks will clinch a playoff berth with:

    • Win at Philadelphia

The San Diego Seals will clinch a playoff berth with:

    • Win vs. Calgary, OR
    • Las Vegas loss at Colorado

The Vancouver Warriors will be eliminated from playoff contention with:

    • Loss at Saskatchewan AND Colorado win vs. Las Vegas