Friday, April 8
Halifax Thunderbirds (9-5) at Calgary Roughnecks (6-7) – 10:00pm ET – ESPN+/Sports Interaction Game of the Week on TSN
Originally scheduled for December 30th, this long-awaited matchup will finally go down this Friday at the Saddledome in Calgary. The Roughnecks are on for two games this weekend, both will be at home. Last Friday, the Roughnecks triumphed the Warriors in a thrilling overtime victory. They started the game off hot, four of the five goals in the first quarter, two of which were powerplay goals by Curtis Dickson and Jesse King. The Roughnecks started and ended the second quarter with a goal, but the Warriors were able to net three in between to end the half 6-4. Haiden Dickson scored his first of the night and only goal for the Roughnecks in the third as the Warriors would tie it at seven heading into the fourth. Similarly in the fourth, both teams put up another two goals to force the game into overtime at 9-9. Curtis Dickson wasn’t going to let the overtime period last long, and he ended the game with his fourth goal on the night only :31 seconds into the extra frame. The win and the two losses by Vancouver put Calgary into the 3rd spot in the West Conference.
Halifax put an end to their four-game losing streak last Friday with an at-home win against the Knighthawks. Following a quiet first quarter for both teams, the offenses exploded in the second. The T-Birds scored their first and second goals of the night within the first three minutes of the second. Each team would record a shorthanded goal in the frame and Halifax took a one goal lead into the half. The third quarter consisted of two goals for each side of the turf to continue a one-goal lead for the Thunderbirds at 7-6. Austin Shanks kicked off the fourth quarter with a powerplay goal just eighteen seconds in. Stephen Keogh and Shanks dominated the fourth each scoring their two goals of the night. The Knighthawks only found the net once in the fourth, solidifying the 11-7 win for the Thunderbirds. Shanks finished the night with six points and Warren Hill saved 44 of 51 shots. The Thunderbirds are now just a half game behind Toronto for the 2nd seed in the East and a potential home playoff game.
Calgary defeating Vancouver kept them alive for the Alterna Cup. The battle for the Alterna Cup continues, and now only a half a game separates the two teams in the standings. The Thunderbirds are 4-0 and the Roughnecks are 4-1 in the standings. A win by the Thunderbirds would give them the title.
Philadelphia Wings (7-8) at San Diego Seals (9-4) – 10:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca
The Wings and Seals came off very different weekends in Week 18. The Seals are West Conference frontrunners with a season record of 9-4 but have now lost two straight games to the Warriors and Rock, with the Mammoth right on their heels. Their most recent defeat to the Rock ended in a 14-7 final score. The first quarter ended in a 2-2 tie. The Seals started the scoring in the second with Casey Jackson’s goal 27 seconds into the frame. The Rock carried the rest of the half with four more goals, ending at 6-3. The third quarter consisted of three goals from the Seals and two by the Rock, closing the gap to 8-6 as they headed into the final fifteen. The Rock would score six straight, including four straight from Dan Craig to seal the win. There was bitterness on both ends as multiple fights broke out in the final minutes and the penalty minutes racked up.
Last week the Wings played twice as they continue their playoff push. On Thursday they played the league’s pacesetter, the Bandits. The Bandits made scoring goals look easy, scoring seven in the first and 10 in the half. Before Wings fans could get comfy in their seat, the team was in a position to have to make a strong comeback. At one point, the Bandits were up 10 goals in the third. For the Wings, they showed their grit in the fourth, outscoring the Bandits 7-3.
The Wings hit the road for their second game of the weekend against the Riptide. The Wings controlled the first quarter with five goals and allowed only two. The half ended with a 7-4 score but would be the closest the Riptide got to victory. Of the five goals scored in the second half, four came from the Wings. The Wings rebounded from their loss on Thursday to win 11-5. Zach Higgins looked much improved in their second game, saving 43 of 48 shots and the offense looked better with the trio of Crowley, Matisz and Jackson. They maintain their 5th spot in the East Conference and still hold the position for the potential crossover 4th spot in the West.
Saturday, April 9
New York Riptide (4-10) at Buffalo Bandits (13-2) – 5:00pm ET – ESPN2/TSN.ca
The NLL is back on ESPN2 this week with the Riptide and Bandits for their second matchup of the season. The Bandits defeated the Wings on Thursday 17-12. Dhane Smith had the most points on the night tallying seven (2g, 5a). On Saturday, things took a turn for the Bandits when they were dealt their second loss of the season by the Mammoth. The action really began in the second quarter when the Mammoth netted seven goals. The Bandits scored three in the quarter but would still trail by two goals to end the half 7-5. Refusing to go down without a fight, the Bandits tied things up in the third at 10-10. Neither team had a lead more than two and saw 12 ties throughout. Chase Fraser would get one of those ties with just under two minutes remaining. Connor Robinson scored the game winner with exactly a minute remaining. The Mammoth put an end to the Bandits’ longstanding win streak with a 15-14 win. In the loss, Dhane Smith recorded 12 points (3g, 9a) as he continues pace to set the single season record for points and assists. The Bandits had what was arguably the toughest stretch of their season, playing four games in eight days when they lost on the road.
The Riptide, too, had a doubleheader weekend they’d like to forget. The first game against the Wings ended in a 11-5 defeat. The Riptide fired 48 shots at Zach Higgins but were only able to find the back of the net five times. On Monday, the Riptide headed out West to face off against the Mammoth for the first time in their team’s history. Jeff Teat found the net first, but the Mammoth quickly fired back with two goals to begin their lead. The Mammoth kept their lead throughout the second and third quarter until Jake Fox tied things up at 6-6. The Mammoth would shutout the Riptide and score three to take the win. Steven Orleman was a bright spot in the game, saving 41 of 50 shots, many of which were at point blank range or in transition.
The Riptide gave the Bandits a true run for their money last time around on January 30th and almost gave us the upset of the season. The Bandits were up by four to end the first half (10-6). The second half is when the Riptide kicked up and were able to catch-up and even out the score. The Riptide outscored the Bandits in the third quarter but still fell behind by three goals. The Riptide came out hot in the fourth quarter with six straight goals and were ahead by three with just over seven minutes to go. Just when the Riptide thought they had a grasp on the game, the Bandits scored three more to force the game into overtime at 17-17. Bandits’ Chris Cloutier scored the 11th power play goal of the night and ended the game just over a minute into the extra frame.
Be on the lookout for Dhane Smith this weekend, with five assists, he will set a new mark for assists in a season. He is also on pace to break his own record for points in a season, which he set in his MVP 2016 season. Matt Vinc and Jeff Teat are also on record watches as they try to set the single season saves record (Vinc) and single season point and assists record by a rookie (Teat). Matt Vinc can hit another career milestone, with 51 saves he will become the first goalie to surpass 9,000 career saves. Callum Crawford did not play in the Riptide’s loss to the Mammoth last week. In the first matchup with the Bandits, he put up 11 points (3g, 8a).
Toronto Rock (10-5) at Rochester Knighthawks (3-11) – 7:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca
The Rock had a big weekend featuring back-to-back games. The Rock earned their way up to the number two spot in the East Conference standings following their two wins of the weekend and clinched a playoff spot. On Friday, the Rock beat the Swarm 13-9. After three-straight goals from the Swarm in the first seven minutes of play, Brad Kri got the Rock on the board. From there the Rock scored their way to a road win. Tom Schreiber led the way with seven points (4g, 3a). With a quick travel turnaround, the Rock were back at FirstOntario Centre against the Seals. The Rock were ahead at the end of each quarter, and Dan Craig put the icing on the cake with four consecutive goals to complete his sock-trick.
The Knighthawks fell 11-7 to the Thunderbirds making this their sixth-straight loss. The Knighthawks’ Mitch Ogilvie was the first and only player to get up on the boards in the first quarter. The second quarter saw three goals from the ‘Hawks and five by the ‘Birds, and the half ended at 5-4. Both teams contributed equally in the third with two goals. The Thunderbirds governed the game in the fourth with four goals, and only one for the Knighthawks taking the final score to 11-7.
This will be the second round for the Rock and Knighthawks. Their first match went down on January 29th and was a home game for the Rock. The first quarter ended at 4-1 after Tom Schreiber scored his first on the night. Ryan Smith was a star for the Knighthawks, recording two goals and an assist in the teams four goals of the first half. Schreiber would get his hattrick by the half. Curtis Knight for the Knighthawks put the second half in motion netting his two goals of the night to tie the game at six. Schreiber would answer back with two more on the night to give the Rock the lead back. Dan Dawson and Dan Craig each scored one in the fourth to extend the lead and Schreiber would get his sock trick, scoring his sixth before games end.
Panther City Lacrosse Club (6-8) at Calgary Roughnecks (7-7) – 9:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca
After Week 18 which muddied the playoff standings even more, Vancouver, Panther City, and Calgary are all in contention for the West Conference’s last guaranteed spot in the three seed as well as the fourth Wild Card spot. Panther City had a bye in Week 18 which could allow some lingering soreness on their team to heal, but might also affect their momentum since they won five straight games in a span of five weeks. Calgary will play their second home game of the weekend so even though they do not need to travel anywhere, they could have tired legs after another critical matchup on Friday night.
This is the third and final matchup on the season for these two teams with big tiebreaker implications. Each team has taken one game from the other. Calgary defeated Panther City 13-12 on February 20 (Panther City’s last loss) and Panther City defeated the Roughnecks on March 19 by a score of 14-11. In their last matchup, Panther City ran away with the game in the third quarter, scoring the only three goals but extended their three goal lead at the half to six entering the fourth quarter. The Roughnecks would score the final four goals of the game but ran out of time for their comeback.
Panther City’s three headed monster of Will Malcom, Patrick Dodds, and Dean Fairall combined for 22 points, eight each for Malcom and Dodds and six for Fairall. Panther City took advantage of their man up opportunities (3-4) and dominated at the faceoff dot (20-29). Nick Damude had a solid game in net, saving 40 of 51 shots. Curtis Dickson and Tyler Pace led the way for the Roughnecks with five and six points respectively. Calgary outshot Panther City 51-42 but was unable to keep this hot young offense from scoring in crucial stretches. The road team won the first two games and we will see if that trends continues between these two clubs and an important tiebreaker.
San Diego Seals (9-5) at Colorado Mammoth (9-6) – 9:00pm ET – ESPN+/TSN.ca
The top two teams in the West Conference faceoff in what could be a crucial game for both, should San Diego lose their first game of the weekend on Friday. Should the Seals lose both games, the Mammoth will be in the top position in the West by half a game. Colorado is coming off a spirited weekend where they played the league-leading Bandits and the New York Riptide. The Mammoth would shock many in the NLL universe by defeating Buffalo in thrilling fashion at home, 15-14, scoring the game winner with one minute remaining in regulation. They would follow up their Saturday performance with a 10-7 victory over the Riptide on Monday night.
The good news for San Diego is they already took the tiebreaker from Colorado, defeating the Mammoth twice already on the season. In their last matchup on March 19, it was a defensive battle and great showings for two potential Goaltender of the Year candidates in Frank Scigliano and Dillon Ward. Scigliano would allow just seven goals on 49 shots whereas Ward saved 42 of 50 Seals shots. The Seals would add an empty net goal near the end of regulation to close out the Mammoth 9-7. The Mammoth were coming off a game the night before, defeating the Warriors before heading to San Diego.
The Seals had a well-rounded offensive attack and could attribute their win to a hustle play by Jeremy Noble, who was able to score right before the half with just one second remaining to give the Seals the 6-4 lead heading into halftime. Since the Seals came into the NLL, they are 6-1 against the Mammoth.
Vancouver Warriors (6-9) at Saskatchewan Rush (4-10) – 10:00pm ET – ESPN+/Sports Interaction Game of the Week on TSN
The Warriors who have held the three seed in the West for the majority of the season has seen their playoff hopes start to slowly dwindle. Not to say they are out of contention but the team has to be disappointed with starting the season 5-3 and now losing six of their last seven games to also see Panther City and Calgary get hot towards the end of the season. Mitch Jones who was vital in the teams first four games, has been out for the majority of the season. Saskatchewan, baring a hot streak with a lot of help from around the league, is likely out of playoff contention. The team announced the parting of ways with first year head coach, Jeff McComb during their Week 18 bye. Former coach and current GM, Derek Keenan will return to the bench and coach alongside Jimmy Quinlan for the remainder of the season.
This is the third and final matchup for these two teams, with each team taking one of the previous games. Both games were played in Vancouver so the biggest change this time around is the venue. The Warriors defeated the Rush 13-7 in their last matchup on February 11. The Warriors used a monstrous second quarter to secure a lead for the remainder of the game, scoring eight goals to the Rush’s two. Despite the Rush scoring the first two goals of the second half, they were unable to catch up to the Warriors. Logan Schuss and Matthew Dinsdale each recorded hattricks in this contest and on the backend, Reid Bowering had an assist, 14 loose balls, two blocked shots and four caused turnovers and Alex Buque looked solid in net, saving 46 of 53 shots.
Buffalo can clinch the East Conference regular season title with:
- Win vs. New York on Saturday, OR
- Toronto loss at Rochester on Saturday.
Buffalo can clinch the top record in the league with:
- Win vs. New York on Saturday AND one San Diego loss this weekend
Colorado can clinch a playoff berth with:
- Win vs San Diego AND Panther City loss to Calgary on Saturday, OR
- Win vs San Diego on Saturday AND two Calgary losses this weekend.
Halifax can clinch a playoff berth with:
- Win at Calgary on Friday.
San Diego can clinch a playoff berth with:
- One win this weekend, OR
- Vancouver loss at Saskatchewan on Saturday AND two Calgary losses this weekend, OR
- Vancouver loss at Saskatchewan AND Panther City loss vs Calgary on Saturday.
San Diego can clinch a home playoff game with:
- One win AND one Calgary loss this weekend.
San Diego can clinch the West Conference regular season title with:
- Wins this weekend vs Philadelphia on Friday AND at Colorado on Saturday.