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What to Expect: Week 6

All games are available on ESPN+ and TSN‘s digital properties, TSN.ca and the TSN App.

Fri. January 6

Wings (1-1) at Desert Dogs (0-2) – 10:30pm ET – ESPNEWS

A busy Week 6 starts with one game on Friday night, airing on ESPNEWS and on TSN.ca and the TSN App. While not a must win for either team, there is a sense of urgency to get on track and contend for a playoff spot. This is the first ever matchup between these two franchises.

The Wings got their first win of the season last time out against the Swarm in another one goal game in their developing rivalry. Philadelphia used a strong fourth quarter to come back and win the game. Joe Resetarits played a large role in that quarter, recording three points in their six-goal quarter. Blaze Riorden has been the top goal scorer for this team, recording eight goals in two games.

The Desert Dogs are hoping a couple of weeks off gave them more time to gel as last time out, they lost their inaugural home game to Panther City in front of more than 7,000 fans by a score of 9-3. Defensively and in net, the team looked sufficient for an expansion franchise and a young goaltender in net, but offensively they could not get anything going. What was a 4-3 deficit at the end of the third quarter led to a five-goal run in the fourth by Panther City. Only Zack Greer tallied more than one point on the night.

Sat. January 7

Panther City (2-2) at Knighthawks (3-0) – 7pm ET

Get all your devices ready as we have four games starting at the same time on Saturday night. Two teams who have turned heads so far this season are looking to continue their streaks and their contention for the playoffs. This is also the first matchup between these two young franchises.

After starting 2-0 on the season, Panther City has dropped their last two games to the defending champion, Colorado Mammoth and to a hot Saskatchewan Rush team. Currently sitting at fifth in the West, they are right where they need to be to be contendors. As of this writing, Will Malcom is tied for fifth in the league with 21 points in four games and leads the league in shots on goal. The team also has three of the top five rookie point getters with Jonathan Donville leading all rookies with 14 points with 13 assists. Mathieu Gautier is second with eight points and Cam Wengreniuk is fifth with five points in his three games. Panther City is allowing a league low 9.25 goals per game.

Rochester is tied for the league lead at a 3-0 record but will be interesting to see how they respond after a couple of weeks off. Rylan Hartley has looked spectacular in this young season, with an 80% save percentage and 10.33 goals against average. On the other end, Connor Fields has been otherworldly with a league leading 25 points through three games played. He is getting support from around the offense as five different players have 10+ points in three games played.

Thunderbirds (2-1) at FireWolves (1-1) – 7pm ET

Halifax and Albany take each other on for the first time this season at 7pm ET on Saturday night. The Thunderbirds come in off a tough loss last weekend in Buffalo by a score of 18-13 while Albany last played on December 17 and lost a nail-biter to Rochester 14-13.

Halifax’s offense is leading the league with 17 goals per game which is two goals higher than the next closest team in San Diego. They were utterly dominant in their first two games but came back to Earth last week against Buffalo. The separation came in the second half as Halifax was outscored 10-5. Ryan Benesch is on a tear this season since rejoining the Thunderbirds. He needs four points to surpass Gary Gait for seventh all-time with 1,166 for his career.

After defeating those same Bandits in Week 1, Albany wants to prove they are the real deal and this is a game to do it in. For the FireWolves, 14 different players have recorded a point in their two games. The team likes to wear down opposing team offenses and run the ball in transition. Joe Nardella suffered a significant injury so the team will need to rely on their backup faceoff players which could change the dynamic of the game given the likelihood of having less possessions at the draw. It is always up for debate as Halifax won 28 of 35 draws against Buffalo last week.

Last season, the FireWolves took both matchups from the Thunderbirds. In their last matchup on March 11, the FireWolves held on to win 8-7. Doug Jamieson and Warren Hill were dueling in net. Austin Shanks and Charlie Kitchen were the only offensive players to see success, scoring three goals and two goals respectively.

Bandits (2-1) at Swarm (0-2) – 7pm ET

Buffalo and Georgia will highlight the night in what may be the game with the most star power. Dhane Smith, Josh Byrne, Tehoka Nanticoke, Steve Priolo and Matt Vinc taking on Lyle Thompson, Shayne Jackson, Brendan Bomberry, and Jeremy Thompson.

After their loss in Week 1, the Bandits have gotten back on track, winning their last two including their big win over Halifax last weekend. The change in the game could be felt from the start of the third quarter as the Bandits went on a five-goal run. Josh Byrne had five goals in the first half on his way to a seven-goal night. Matt Vinc in net had 10+ saves in every quarter.

For the Swarm, they have the offensive leaders but need some more help from their backend. Craig Wende has gotten the starts in both games in goal but was relieved for a portion of the last game for rookie Brett Dobson. While the team has given Wende the nod of confidence to be the starter, we have seen that a few poor results from your goaltender can change the dynamic, especially when you have a first-round pick waiting for their turn.

The Bandits took both matchups last season. In the last matchup on April 16, the Bandits used an eight goal second quarter to catapult their 18-9 win. Chris Cloutier had eight points (3g, 5a) but the big story was the Bandits defense holding the Swarm to just 37 shots on goal. Craig Wende did come into this game and saved 30 of 38 shots in relief of Mike Poulin for the Swarm.

Rock (1-2) at Riptide (0-2) – 7:30pm ET

Both Toronto and New York have playoff aspirations and need to get going this weekend to keep pace in the East. This is a classic game of offense versus defense, who will prevail?

After a dominating Week 1 against the Warriors, the Rock have been set back to 1-2 but relax Rock City, they started slow last season before finishing second overall in the regular season. The defense has looked consistent, allowing under 10 goals per game but their offense has been stagnant the last two games, averaging just 7.5 goals per game.

The Riptide have had the opposite issue. They are averaging a respectable 12.5 goals per game but are allowing a league worst 17.5 goals through their two games played. Both goaltenders on the roster have seen action but have a combined saved percentage of just 69%. They will need to be much better for the Riptide to have a chance this season.

Last season these two teams split their two regular season matchups. The Rock took the latest matchup by a score of 12-9. Jeff Teat was held to just five points on one goal while Dan Lomas had a hattrick. Dan Dawson led the Rock with six points and Latrell Harris contributed with a goal and assist in transition.

Roughnecks (2-1) at Mammoth (1-1) – 10pm ET – ESPNU

The Colorado Mammoth will host the Calgary Roughnecks when they raise their championship banner on ESPNU Saturday night. There will be a tough game to play after the ceremony as the Roughnecks will remember that the Mammoth defeated them on their way to the championship last season. For those who were on the team, Calgary will remember that Colorado spoiled the Roughnecks championship ceremony back in the 2019-20 season.

The Roughnecks come in off a tough loss to the San Diego Seals. It was a lopsided first half with the Seals winning 13-5 but the Roughnecks put together a valiant comeback effort that fell short, led by Tyler Pace and Jesse King who had nine and five points respectively. Trailing to a team with that much talent is no easy feat to dig out of the hole to try and win the game.

The Mammoth got a win their last game out against Panther City by a score of 12-9. All around, it was a much better performance compared to their Week 1 loss. The big names in Zed Williams and Eli McLaughlin stepped up and Dillon Ward settled back, saving 48 of 57 shots. Newcomer Rhys Duch is one point away from becoming the 12th player in league history to reach 1,000 for their career. He had three points in his team debut against Panther City.

Last time out between these two came in the quarterfinals of last year’s playoffs. The Mammoth got the monkey off their back with a 16-12 win, now collecting two championships when defeating the Roughnecks in the playoffs. Connor Robinson who has struggled so far this season put up five goals in the quarterfinal win and had a memorable socktrick against the Roughnecks in the regular season, signified by his bloodied nose. Jordan Gilles also contributed with two goals and two assists on the evening.

Warriors (0-3) at Seals (3-0) – 10pm ET

The final matchup of the weekend features two teams on opposite spectrums so far through the 2022-23 season. The Warriors are in last place in the NLL at 0-3 with a -22 goal differential while the Seals are top of the West at 3-0.

With a couple of weeks off, the Warriors made a big change by releasing goaltender Steve Fryer, who had started all three games for the team this season. Ethan Woods and Aden Walsh will look like the duo in net moving forward. While allowing 14.67 goals per game is tough to swallow, the shocker for this team is the 7.33 goals scored per game when you think this team has Keegan Bal, Mitch Jones, Logan Schuss, Kyle Killen and Shawn Evans. Unfortunately, they have another tough matchup to try and get things figured out. Evans is just three goals away from passing Mark Steenhuis for ninth all-time and needs five points to be the sixth player to reach 1,300 in their career.

The Seals had their highest scoring output last week against Calgary with 17, including 13 in the first half. The former Riggers love to play their former team with Wes Berg, Dane Dobbie, and Curtis Dickson combining for 11 goals and 13 assists. Despite being 3-0, the Seals have yet to put together a full 60 minutes, having lapses during each of their three games which could spell trouble moving forward. Regardless of the gaps in play, they are 3-0 and sitting atop the West.

Last season the Seals took the final two matchups of their three total. The last game was on April 30 with the Seals hanging on to a 10-9 win. Austin Staats who made his season debut last weekend, recorded seven points while Adam Charalambides, Riley Loewen, Keegan Bal, and Kyle Killen each had two goals. Reid Bowering had a staggering 23 loose ball recoveries and two caused turnovers.

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