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The Albany FireWolves are 4-0 and have already surpassed last year's win total.

NLL Power Rankings: FireWolves' Unlikely Rise Continues

January 2, 2024
Jack Goods
Albany FireWolves/NLL

The defending National Lacrosse League champions have a losing record, while the team that finished last in the standings in 2022-23 is 4-0. If 2024 is anything like last year, we’re in for some good box lacrosse.

1. Toronto Rock (3-0)

The Rock never trailed in a 14-8 win against New York, backed by six points from Dan Craig and five from Chris Boushy. Toronto went into the break up 6-1 and extended the advantage by two more in the second half thanks to a Riptide offensive drought that lasted over half an hour. Defensively, Nick Rose’s night featured one of the saves of the year, an acrobatic stop on Kiel Matisz. Last week: 1

2. Albany FireWolves (4-0)

If you predicted coming into the year the FireWolves would be this high in the power rankings at any point, it might be time to start playing the lottery. Albany surpassed its win total from the entirety of last season thanks to another monster performance from Alex Simmons and an overtime winner from Ethan Walker in an 11-10 triumph against Saskatchewan. Simmons, tied for the league lead in points, contributed seven to push his total to 27. Last week: 5

3. San Diego Seals (2-1)

The Seals handed Rochester its first blemish of the season, leading for the final 39 minutes in a 17-14 win. Captain Wesley Berg had nine points, with Austin Staats and Dane Dobbie close behind with eight apiece, in a resume booster for San Diego. Tre Leclaire set a new career high with seven points. Last week: 6

4. Georgia Swarm (3-1)

The Swarm appear to have carried over their late season success from 2022-23, earning their most impressive victory yet this weekend. Young goaltender Brett Dobson held his opponent under 10 goals for a second straight game, recording 46 saves in a 9-8 win against Buffalo. The Swarm scored four straight after the Bandits went up 7-5 early in the fourth quarter, with Andrew Kew ending the run with the eventual game winner. Last week: 7

5. Rochester Knighthawks (3-1)

Rochester got seven points from Ryan Smith and a third straight four-point performance from rookie Thomas McConvey but came up short in a battle of championship contenders. The Knighthawks will have to rely on Riley Hutchcraft a bit longer between the pipes, as Rylan Hartley was placed on injured reserve following a shot to the head. Last week: 3

6. Halifax Thunderbirds (2-1)

The T-Birds lost control of a late two-goal lead, allowing the shorthanded Wings to come back for a 16-15 overtime win. Ryan Benesch recorded eight points for the T-Birds, who led by as much as four on three occasions. Last week: 2

7. Buffalo Bandits (1-2)

Buffalo’s typically high-powered offense has hit some roadblocks early, with an eight-goal showing against the Swarm marking a new season low. The unit certainly took a hit with the late injury scratch of Brad McCulley — with recently acquired Emerson Clark instead out there trying to clear space — but expects to win most games when the defense holds the opponent to single digits.  Josh Byrne and Dhane Smith accounted for just two goals, both from Byrne. Last week: 4

8. Philadelphia Wings (2-2)

Joe Resetarits became the top American scorer in the history of the NLL, recording his record-breaking point against Halifax on Jack Jasinski’s overtime winner. Ben McIntosh and Sam LeClair scored in the final four minutes of regulation to force the extra frame, helping the Wings win despite the absences of Blaze Riorden and Holden Cattoni. Last week: 9

9. Colorado Mammoth (1-2)

The Mammoth shut out the Warriors for the entirety of the second half, then got an overtime winner from Connor Robinson to secure a much-needed 12-11 win. The performance from the defense and Tyler Carlson, put between the pipes in Dillon Ward’s stead, powered a 7-0 stretch for Colorado. The Mammoth are continuously getting healthier, this week getting Joey Cupido back into the lineup. Last week: 12

10. Calgary Roughnecks (1-2)

The Riggers secured their first victory of the Josh Sanderson era, pulling away in the second half for a 17-11 win against Las Vegas. Jesse King recorded three of his nine points as part of a 6-0 run that turned a one goal Roughneck advantage into a commanding lead. King was one of six Calgary players with at least four points. Last week: 11

11. Panther City Lacrosse Club (1-2)

The lone team off this weekend, Panther City returns Saturday when the squad travels to Georgia. Last week: 10

12. Vancouver Warriors (1-3)

The Warriors went ice cold after Adam Charalambides put them up 11-5 with 11 seconds left in the first half. Vancouver did not find the back of the net again, despite a strong overtime chance from Brayden Laity. And thus, Vancouver lost a game it led 5-0 five minutes in. Last week: 8

13. Saskatchewan Rush (1-3)

The Rush took the FireWolves to overtime thanks to a regulation-closing 4-0 run, getting the equalizer from Ryan Keenan halfway through the fourth quarter. Yet, despite holding Albany scoreless for over 18 minutes, Saskatchewan came up just short. Zach Manns accounted for three goals and three assists, well on his way to a career year. Last week: 13

14. Las Vegas Desert Dogs (1-3)

The Desert Dogs never led again after a 2-1 advantage, allowing Calgary to bury them with a handful of extended runs. Rob Hellyer and Jack Hannah each had five points for a Vegas squad that appears unlikely to take the next step in year two. Last week: 14

15. New York Riptide (0-3)

The Riptide mustered just one goal in the first half against Toronto and never got closer than four after facing an 8-1 deficit midway through the third quarter. Jeff Teat did have his best game of the season, though, recording his first multi-goal game with three goals and three assists. Last week: 15