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Calgary Roughnecks.

NLL Power Rankings: Here Come the Roughnecks

February 26, 2024
Jack Goods
Jenn Pierce/ Calgary Roughnecks

Every National Lacrosse League team was in action in a busy Week 13, three days highlighted by an overtime thriller, the re-emergence of a western power and pair of tremendous Indigenous Heritage Night uniforms from Buffalo and Toronto.

1. Toronto Rock (8-2)

Nick Rose made 45 saves as Toronto set a new season best for goals allowed, beating the Warriors 9-5 despite being outshot 50-46. The Rock took blows on the injury front this week, placing Challen Rogers, Mitch de Snoo and Dan Craig on injured reserve, but got production from Tom Schreiber (six points) and Mark Matthews (five points) to make up for their absence. Those two scored the first two goals of a game-closing 4-0 run that kept Toronto tied for first in the standings. Last week: 1

2. San Diego Seals (7-3)

San Diego and Georgia exchanged blows throughout Friday night’s matchup in Pechanga Arena, with captain Wesley Berg ultimately emerging as the overtime hero. Berg scored from up top five minutes into the extra frame, securing an 11-10 come-from-behind effort. The Seals trailed 10-7 with under 3:30 remaining in the third quarter before embarking on a 4-0 run. Seth Oakes equalized for the Swarm to force the OT, giving Berg a final opportunity to complete his sock trick. Last week: 2

3. Albany FireWolves (8-2)

Tye Kurtz reminded everyone that Alex Simmons isn’t the only star rookie on the FireWolves, recording a sock trick with an assist in Albany’s 13-10 win at Buffalo. The defense shut the Bandits out from the 43-second mark in the second quarter into the closing minutes of the fourth, allowing Albany to mount a tie-breaking 4-0 run. Goals by Chris Cloutier and Tehoka Nanticoke cut the Bandits’ deficit to two in the closing minutes, but an unexpected goalie goal from Doug Jamieson shut the door. Last week: 3

4. Halifax Thunderbirds (7-4)

The T-Birds got out to a 7-1 lead on Saskatchewan early and never looked back in a 19-6 shellacking. Already up 11-4 at the break, Halifax shut the Rush out in the third quarter while scoring five of its own to really put the game away. Clarke Petterson led the way with eight points, while Austin Shanks was close behind with seven. Last week: 4

5. Panther City Lacrosse Club (5-4)

Callum Crawford scored the go-ahead goal with 40 seconds remaining, capping a six-point performance, and PCLC endured a late disallowed Swarm goal to win 10-9 on Sunday. Jonathan Donville and Will Malcom also found the back of the net as part of a game-closing 3-0 run, pushing Panther City to 4-1 in its last five games. Last week: 8

6. Calgary Roughnecks (5-5)

Don’t look now, but here come the Roughnecks. Josh Currier scored back-to-back goals to break a tie at 11, putting the Riggers ahead for good in a 14-11 win over Philadelphia. Calgary has won three straight, finally hitting its stride with new head coach Josh Sanderson. Dan Taylor was instrumental this weekend, scoring a natural hat trick to put his team up 11-10 in the fourth. Last week: 9

7. Buffalo Bandits (5-5)

Buffalo announced a flurry of roster moves ahead of Saturday night’s matchup with Albany, most notably placing star goaltender Matt Vinc on injured reserve. Devlin Shanahan, making his first career start, did an admirable job in his stead by making 46 saves while holding Albany to 13 goals. The offense didn’t do its part, while faceoffs continue to be an issue. The Bandits haven’t been at .500 this late into a season since being 6-6 in 2018. Last week: 6

8. Georgia Swarm (6-6)

Georgia was reminded that close only counts in horseshoes when it comes to sports. The Swarm had opportunities across five minutes of overtime to upset the Seals, then had a tying goal disallowed in the closing seconds Sunday against Panther City. IL Indoor’s Stephen Stamp did an excellent job explaining how the officials made the right call on Oakes’ potential equalizer — a play which violated Rule 67. Last week: 7

9. New York Riptide (5-6)

Jeff Teat’s streak of hat tricks ended at eight games, as the Riptide faltered in the second half for a second straight week, falling 18-10 at Colorado. The Riptide, in the news in recent days following the announcement of their imminent move to Ottawa, Ontario, were up 8-6 at the break before entirely losing steam. A scoring drought of over 25 minutes allowed the Mammoth to turn a close game into a blowout. Last week: 5

10. Las Vegas Desert Dogs (4-6)

Ty Merrow wrote this week about the underappreciated Desert Dogs defense, a timely piece considering the team’s ensuing 12-8 win against Rochester. Landon Kells and the rest of the unit held the Knighthawks off the board for the final 19 minutes, helping the offense flip an 8-7 deficit into a four-goal lead. Kells had 47 saves, while Rob Hellyer totaled six points. Last week: 13

11. Saskatchewan Rush (3-6)

Just when the Rush started to look promising, Halifax brought them back down to earth in a one-sided affair. Saskatchewan scored just once in the first 17 minutes and only twice in the final 31 minutes. Zach Manns and Robert Church were each involved in four of the team’s six goals. Last week: 10

12. Rochester Knighthawks (3-6)

The Knighthawks’ slide extended to six games, as the squad has gone from contenders to sweating the fact that their first-round pick belongs to Buffalo. Rochester led 3-1 early and 7-5 in the third quarter but couldn’t hold on. Connor Fields and Ryan Smith each had six points, but the offense tied its season low for production. Last week: 11

13. Colorado Mammoth (4-7)

It was a Tyson Gibson revenge game, as the former Riptide top pick scored four goals and dished out two helpers in the Mammoth’s victory. Colorado blew the game open with 10 straight goals in the second half, part of a 12-1 run that resulted in the team’s new season high for scoring. El McLaughlin recorded a natural hat trick in a nine-point game, while Connor Robinson added seven points. Last week: 14

14. Philadelphia Wings (3-6)

Mitch Jones continues to accumulate points — with his seven this week following two straight games of eight — despite the Wings’ year not matching preseason expectations. Jones equalized at 11 with 6:44 on the clock for Philadelphia’s final offensive output of the night. Last week: 12

15. Vancouver Warriors (2-8)

The Vancouver offense set a new low for goals in a game, held in the single digits for a fifth time this season. Kyle Killen and Riley Loewen opened the scoring in the fourth quarter to force a tie at 5 with Toronto, but the Warriors failed to score for the final 13:58. Curt Malawsky’s squad needs to go perfect the rest of the way to avoid a 10th-straight season of .500 or worse. Last week: 15