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What to Expect: Week 22

All games can be seen on ESPN+ and TSN+

* Clinched playoff berth

Saturday, Apr. 29

Thunderbirds (9-8) at Swarm (8-9) – 7pm ET

Week 22 is here, the last week of the regular season with some questions still up in the air, including who will take the final playoff spot in the East between the Thunderbirds and the Swarm? It’s win or go home for these teams.

Halifax comes in off a dominating win over the New York Riptide, 15-6, in front of the largest crowd the Nest has ever seen at 10,008. The Thunderbirds came out of the gate hot, taking a 10-3 lead at the half and put the game on cruise control from there. Chris Boushy, Austin Shanks and Randy Staats all had three or more goals in this game. The defense was hard at work, only allowing 36 shots on goal all night. Warren Hill held down the net saving 30 of 36 shots in the crucial win. Halifax has won four of their last five. The one loss? Against the Georgia Swarm.

The Swarm’s six game win streak came to an end last week but their hopes at the playoffs will come down to one more game. Last week they fell 12-10 to Rochester, who was playing for their own playoff spot. A back-and-forth affair saw Rochester score six of the last eight to get over the hump. Swarm leading scorer Andrew Kew was a late scratch from this game. The team leaned on Shayne Jackson, who had five points on the night (2g, 3a). Lyle Thompson, Brendan Bomberry and Ryan Lanchbury each had two goals.

These two have seen each other once this season, with Georgia getting the dominating 17-7 win on April 2. Georgia had the 8-2 lead at the half and a run of eight goals in the second half on their way to the win. Andrew Kew had 10 points (5g, 5a). For Halifax, they will want to avoid the slow start like last time and support Warren Hill, who saved 30 of 41 shots before being pulled. The winner of this game goes to the postseason, loser goes home.

Wings (8-9) at Knighthawks* (10-7) – 7pm ET

To the chagrin of Wings fans, because of Halifax and Rochester’s wins last weekend, the Wings have been officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Philadelphia had the Sunday game last weekend where all they could do was watch to see the results of the previous games to see if their game against Albany would mean anything for their playoff chances. They unfortunately got their answer but still played hard against the FireWolves. After being shutout in the first quarter, they fired back with six in the second. They would be shutout in the third quarter as well but scored three in the fourth, including the game tying goal with under 90 seconds remaining to force overtime. Almost four minutes into the extra frame, Ben McIntosh would score the game winner, his third goal on the night. Zach Higgins saved 54 of 63 shots, keeping his team in the game.

The Knighthawks can breathe a sigh of relief after getting a much-needed win last week against Georgia, clinching the franchise’s first ever playoff appearance in their third season. A tight game throughout, saw Rochester allow five straight to the Swarm prior to scoring six of the last eight to clinch the win. Connor Fields led the team with five points (2g, 3a) but also added a team high 14 loose balls. Rylan Hartley had a bounce back performance after some rough outings, saving 46 of 56.

The Wings have won both games against the Knighthawks this season, both by a single goal. Last time on April 2, the Knighthawks stormed back late, from being down four to leading by one. Taite Cattoni scored the tying goal with just over two minutes left in regulation before Joe Resetarits would score the game winner in OT, his fourth of the night.

Bandits* (13-4) at FireWolves (3-14) – 7pm ET

A rematch from Week 1 fittingly ends each team’s regular season between the Bandits and FireWolves.

Buffalo got arguably their biggest win of the season over Toronto, in front of a season high 16,861 fans in Banditland, claiming the top seed in the East Conference. The offense would come out slow, not scoring until the second quarter and only putting up two at the half. Once the third started, the offense came out hot, scoring five in the frame and four in the fourth. The defense would do enough to hold off Toronto in the final minutes of the game. 11 different players recorded a point for Buffalo, including a team high seven for Dhane Smith (2g, 5a).

Albany lost in overtime last weekend against the Philadelphia Wings by a 10-9 final. Despite being a low scoring game, the FireWolves got consistent scoring in each frame. Unfortunately, they allowed six in the second quarter which was the bulk of the scoring for the Wings all night. Connor Kelly and Ethan Walker each had two goal and two assist evenings and 13 players recorded a point. The offense was able to pepper Zach Higgins all night, shooting 63 on goal but only able to convert on nine.

As mentioned, these two saw each other in Week 1 with the FireWolves getting the surprising 11-10 win. It was a balanced scoring approach from Albany, with four different players have two goals. Doug Jamieson played some of his best lacrosse, saving 45 of 55 shots against this potent Bandits offense. Tehoka Nanticoke had three goals while Dhane Smith had five assists.

Mammoth* (9-8) at Seals* (13-4) – 10pm ET – ESPN2

There is bad blood and a potential Quarterfinal matchup between the Mammoth and Seals.

Colorado with a win would jump into the three seed and play Calgary in the first round but with a loss, would play these Seals back in San Diego next week. Last week the Mammoth took a loss versus the Saskatchewan Rush in overtime by a 12-11 final. Through the game, the Mammoth would fight back from multiple deficits to tie the game with under a minute remaining in regulation. Unfortunately, the Rush would get the game winner before the Mammoth could. Eli McLaughlin led the Mammoth with seven goals on the night, including the last three in regulation to tie the game.

San Diego comes in off a win they made look easy over the Las Vegas Desert Dogs, 14-4. Frank Scigliano looked dominant, only allowing one goal in each quarter. Las Vegas would get the game to 2-2, but San Diego would go on a nine-goal run over the course of 20 minutes. Dane Dobbie and Austin Staats each had hattricks for the Seals.

It is always entertaining when these two team’s matchup. On April 14, the Mammoth took the 15-14 win over the Seals. Each team had multiple runs to gain momentum and try to take the win, but it was the Mammoth, led by Eli McLaughlin’s final two goals of the game, who would have the last laugh.

Riptide (4-13) at Warriors (4-13) – 10pm ET – Game of the Week on TSN

The Game of the Week on TSN sees some the leagues youngest and brightest stars take the floor for the last time this season.

New York was no match for Halifax last weekend, who was fighting for their playoff lives. After a tight first seven minutes of the game, Halifax would score six straight and nine of 10 to stretch their lead over the Riptide. New York was only able to muster 36 shots on goal all night despite having eight powerplay opportunities (of which they converted one). Jeff Teat is tied for the league lead in points at 126 with Dhane Smith, he also holds a one goal lead for league leader at 51 on the season as he looks to claim both season leader titles. He is also part of a small group of forwards with over 100 loose balls.

Vancouver comes in off a bye week heading into their final game of the season. Last time out, they lost a close matchup to Panther City by a 9-8 final. Shawn Evans may have had his best game in a Warriors uniform, scoring four goals and adding two assists. Aden Walsh got the nod in net and looked outstanding, saving 49 of 58 shots. Sophomore Adam Charalambides has eclipsed his rookie season totals, tallying 19 goals and 54 points this season. The second pick from the 2020 NLL Entry Draft (behind Teat), Reid Bowering, has missed the last couple of games but is still in the top five of loose ball recoveries, blocked shots this season, and points among defensemen.

These two teams have not seen each other since December 14, 2019 with the Warriors taking the 14-10 win. A lot has changed between these two franchises since then, but Tyler Digby contributed four points (2g, 2a) for the Riptide while Keegan Bal had eight (2g, 6a). Aaron Bold recorded the win, saving 40 of 50 shots.

Rush (7-10) at Desert Dogs (5-12) – 10:30pm ET

The last game of the regular season, game 135, takes us back to Las Vegas as the Desert Dogs close out their inaugural season against the Rush.

Saskatchewan won their final regular season home game in front of over 10k fans in a thrilling 12-11 overtime win over the defending champions. While many questions will be facing this franchise during the offseason, the story of the night was the play of rookie goaltender and Saskatchewan native, Laine Hruska, in his first career start. The local boy was able to save 36 of 47 shots and get the win. To add, he only allowed four goals to players not named Eli McLaughlin. Robert Church scored the game winner in OT, his fourth on the night.

While moral victories may mean nothing to some, this Las Vegas team has proven they can compete and have some rising stars in this league despite not playing in the postseason. Last week they lost a tough game to the number one team in the West, San Diego, 14-4. Landon Kells and Joel Watson have been a good duo in net as they grow together. Jack Hannah will end the season as the rookie leading goal scorer, barring an unreal performance from Jonathan Donville. Jon Phillips has quietly put up the third most points by a rookie as well with 43. Year two, as we have seen, can be a pivotal year for these expansion franchises.

These two have seen each other once this season, with the Rush taking the 15-10 win on January 28. An 8-3 second quarter proved to be the difference in this game, with all eight goals coming consecutively. Robert Church and Mark Matthews combined for 20 points (9g, 11a) for the Rush.

Playoff Scenarios

  • The Buffalo Bandits will claim the top overall seed in the playoffs with a win over Albany OR a San Diego loss versus Colorado
  • The Colorado Mammoth will clinch the 3rd seed in the West with a win over San Diego. Should Colorado lose, they will be the 4th seed in the West
  • The Georgia Swarm will clinch the 4th seed in the East with a win over Halifax
  • The Halifax Thunderbirds will clinch the last playoff spot in the East with a win over Georgia. Halifax would clinch the 3rd seed in the East with a win AND a Philadelphia win over Rochester. Halifax would clinch the 4th seed with a win AND a Rochester win over Philadelphia
  • The San Diego Seals will claim the top overall seed in the playoffs with a win over Colorado AND a Buffalo loss versus Albany
NLL