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NLL Power Rankings: Bandits Get Rolling, Surge to No. 3

NLL Power Rankings: Bandits Get Rolling, Surge to No. 3

January 16, 2024
Jack Goods
Buffalo Bandits

The Albany FireWolves are still rolling, the Buffalo Bandits are getting back on track and the Toronto Rock are living up to offseason expectations.

The top of the National Lacrosse League is getting spicy as we move into Week 8.

1. Albany FireWolves (6-0)

The FireWolves have doubled their win total from last season after holding a lead as large as seven in a 12-8 win against Georgia. Alex Simmons added five more points to his impressive season total, one of six Albany players to notch three or more. This team is evolving into one of the best on-floor stories the league has seen in years. It’ll face another test against San Diego. Last week: 1

2. Toronto Rock (4-0)

Seven players had multi-point games, led by Challen Rogers with five, in Toronto’s 11-9 win against Halifax. The Rock never trailed, pulling ahead with a 4-0 run in the first quarter before enduring a couple Thunderbird spurts. Last week: 2

3. Buffalo Bandits (3-2)

The Bandits owned the fourth quarter Saturday night, kicking off the frame with a 5-0 run to down the rival Rochester Knighthawks 15-13. Josh Byrne and Dhane Smith each had six points, with all of Smith’s coming on assists. He’s orchestrating an unprecedented season total, on pace to become the first player to reach 100 points with fewer than 19 goals. Last week: 6

4. Georgia Swarm (4-2)

The Swarm’s three-game win streak was snapped by the undefeated FireWolves, with a handful of late goals helping Georgia from an optics standpoint. The Swarm were down 10-3 for much of the third quarter, then put together a 5-1 run to make the final look more respectable. Last week: 3

5. San Diego Seals (3-2)

It was a puzzling weekend for the Seals, who never led in a surprising 10-8 defeat to Las Vegas, then traveled across the Rocky Mountains for a 12-8 win against Colorado. Mac O’Keefe returned to the lineup against the Mammoth, scoring a pair. Captain Wesley Berg accumulated 13 points in a two-day span. Last week: 4

6. Rochester Knighthawks (3-2)

The K-Hawks led by three in the second quarter thanks to a 5-0 run, then shut the Bandits out in the third quarter to take a 12-10 lead into the final frame. The offense went cold at the wrong time, with Buffalo’s Matt Vinc shutting the door for over 15 minutes. A trio of former early draft picks had impressive nights. Thomas McConvey set a career high with seven points, Ryan Smith tied his career high with nine points and Ryan Lanchbury dished out six helpers. Last week: 5

7. Halifax Thunderbirds (2-3)

The Thunderbirds strung together an impressive final push, getting as close as a goal against Toronto halfway through the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for Halifax, it wouldn’t score again, with Challen Rogers giving the Rock a cushion down the stretch. Ryan Terefenko packed the stat sheet with two goals, an assist, nine loose balls and a caused turnover. Last week: 7

8. Calgary Roughnecks (2-2)

Roughnecks coach Josh Sanderson downplayed the team’s budding rivalry with Vancouver, but there were certainly a few Riggers players who enjoyed doubling up the team’s former head coach on Saturday. Tanner Cook ignited a six-goal run with a natural hat trick, spurring Calgary to a 14-7 triumph. Cook finished with five goals and two assists, while Christian del Bianco made 48 saves. Last week: 8

9. Philadelphia Wings (2-3)

The Wings’ matchup with the Rush was postponed due to weather conditions. Philadelphia next plays January 27 against San Diego. Last week: 9

10. Panther City Lacrosse Club (2-3)

Callum Crawford got revenge on his former squad, leading PCLC with six points in the team’s 14-12 win over New York. Rookie Jason Knox, a 2022 first round pick, scored four goals and added an assist in the best performance of his young professional career. A four-goal run in the third quarter was decisive, giving Panther City the lead for good. Last week: 11

11. Las Vegas Desert Dogs (2-3)

The Desert Dogs endured San Diego’s comeback effort, with Jonathan Gagliardi all but sealing a win with the goal inside the final 30 seconds. Zack Greer led the way with eight points in his best performance since March 2020 and on a night when Las Vegas honored co-owner Wayne Gretsky. Jack Hannah added four goals and two assists in an upset of one of the league’s best. Last week: 15

12. Colorado Mammoth (1-4)

The Mammoth offense continues to sputter, failing to reach double digits for a third time this season and a second week in a row. Making matters worse is the perceived advantage Colorado enjoyed, playing San Diego a night after the Seals suited up in Las Vegas. Zed Williams and Connor Kelly were both held to a lone goal, with Connor Robinson and Eli McLaughlin serving as the team’s only multi-goal scorers. Last week: 11

13. Saskatchewan Rush (1-3)

With the Wings’ matchup postponed, Saskatchewan got time to rest leading up to next week’s date with Vancouver. Last week: 13

14. Vancouver Warriors (1-4)

The Warriors won the offseason, but that hasn’t translated to the on-floor product just yet. The squad is enduring a three-game skid, with Saturday’s showing against Calgary marking a new nadir. Only three Vancouver players had multiple points, with Ryan Martel’s three serving as the high-water mark. Last week: 12

15. New York Riptide (1-4)

The Riptide got strong performances from their big stars, as Reilly O’Connor and Connor Kearnan each notched seven points, while Jeff Teat and Kiel Matisz were close behind with six a piece. Those stat lines weren’t enough to jump start a win streak for New York, as only three others found their way on to the score sheet. Last week: 14