We’re back. With five exciting NLL Face Off Weekend ’15 openers in the books, which teams surprised the most with their performances in Week 1 of the 2015 National Lacrosse League season? Check out the NLL Power Rankings by Brian Shanahan for Inside Lacrosse below for a complete rundown of who’s hot and who’s not heading into Week 2.
“We’re finally here,” writes Shanahan on IL Indoor. “The 2015 National Lacrosse League season has started and it’s time to do the first Power Rankings. I would be remiss if I didn’t first take a moment to honour those that we have lost in last few months. The lacrosse community is a tight one and the recent deaths ofTerry Sanderson, Chris Hall, Tucker Williams, Wendy Keenan, Jim Jennings, Mark Evans and Dave Pirog have created a shared sorrow throughout the lacrosse world.
“I spent the weekend in Calgary where both the Vancouver Stealth and Calgary Roughnecks played hard to honour the memory of the Chris Hall, the coach who brought NLL championships to each franchise. In Rochester, Josh Sanderson (son of the late Terry Sandeson) said that Toronto’s victory over the Knighthawks was the most emotional win in his career. The Edmonton Rush must have been playing with heavy hearts Saturday knowing that their leader, Derek Keenan was at home mourning the passing of his wife Wendy, who died on Friday.
“Lacrosse has always been a spiritual game and we like to think it can also be a healing game. I believe the 2015 season will be one in which players, coaches and fans use our great sport to honour the memories of those who are no longer with us.
“The ILIndoor staff will start our weekly “pick ’em” contest next week. It’s a good thing we skipped Week 1 because I know I would have only had one game correct. As a result, our first Power Rankings look a whole lot different than our preseason rankings. I’m still confident that when the dust settles we’ll get what we originally expected but for now let’s enjoy the surprises.”
1. Toronto Rock (1-0)
The Toronto Rock never led in their game their 13-12 victory over the Rochester Knighthawks until the last 5 minutes of the game when Kasey Beirnes scored what proved to be the winning goal. Beirnes and Hellyer each had a hat trick for the Rock while Josh Sanderson led all scorers with 7 assists. Next week, Toronto travels to Vancouver to meet the Stealth for the TSN game of the week.
2. Vancouver Stealth (1-0)
For most of the first half of their game against the Calgary Roughnecks, the Vancouver Stealth looked lucky to be staying close. Vancouver trailed 9-4 with three and a half minutes left in the half when it scored 3 quick goals. In the second half, it turned that 3-goal run into and 11-goal run and was able to hang on for a well earned 18-14 victory. Rhys Duch was the big scorer for the Stealth with 4 goals and 5 assists. Tyler Digby was one of many Vancouver players to have great games.
3. Colorado Mammoth (1-0)
Trailing 10-9 entering the fourth quarter in Minnesota, the Mammoth exploded for 11 goals to give them a 20-13 victory. John Grant, Jr. had one of his usual games with 4 goals and 5 assists and Adam Jones had 5 goals and 2 assists. Next week, the Mammoth will host the Calgary Roughnecks.
4. New England Black Wolves (1-0)
Playing their first regular season game at their new home, the New England Black Wolves put on a great show for their new fans by defeating the Buffalo Bandits 12-8. Kyle Buchanan and Pat Saunders each scored three goals for the home team while Evan Kirk made 50 saves on 58 shots. Next week, the Black Wolves will host the defending champion Rochester Knighthawks.
5. Buffalo Bandits (1-1)
The Bandits rebounded from their loss in New England with an impressive 9-8 victory over the Edmonton Rush for the Bandits home opener. Ryan Benesch was the big scorer for Buffalo with 5 goals and 2 assists. The Bandits have next week off but will travel to Vancouver on January 17.
6. Rochester Knighthawks (0-1)
The Knighthawks lost a great game to the Toronto Rock on Saturday by a score of 13-12. Expect Rochester to rebound next week when they travel to the Mohegan Sun to face New England.
7. Edmonton Rush (0-1)
Edmonton lost a tough game 9-8 to Buffalo in Bandits Land on Saturday. Like Rochester, expect the Rush to have a big rebound game next week when they host the Minnesota Swarm.
8. Calgary Roughnecks (0-1)
Coach Malawsky wasn’t happy after the first half of his team’s game against Vancouver in which they were leading 9-7. He must have must been steaming after what happened in the next 30 minutes as his Roughnecks fell to the Stealth by a final score of 18-14. Next week Calgary travels to Colorado to continue their epic battles against the Mammoth.
9. Minnesota Swarm (0-1)
The roof caved in for the Swarm in the fourth quarter on Saturday when a 10-9 lead turned into a 20-13 loss. On the bright side, Minnesota got big games Shayne Jackson and rookie Miles Thompson. Next week won’t be any easier as they travel to Edmonton to face the Rush.