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The Bandits ended the Rock's unbeaten start to 2023-24.

NLL Power Rankings: No More Unbeatens After Week 9

January 29, 2024
Jack Goods
National Lacrosse League

And then there were none.

The Buffalo Bandits knocked Toronto from the ranks of the undefeated on Saturday, toppling the National Lacrosse League’s final unbeaten squad. That result tightened things at the top as competitors battle for seeding in the unified standings.

Meanwhile, interesting storylines are developing among teams fighting to be in the postseason. Will New York finally live up to its potential, and what should we make of Colorado starting to find its scoring touch?

1. Albany FireWolves (6-1)

The FireWolves slide back into first during a bye week. Albany returns to action Saturday when it hosts Las Vegas. Last week: 2

2. Toronto Rock (5-1)

The Rock flipped an early 8-3 deficit into a 10-9 advantage but then went cold in the fourth quarter in a 16-14 loss to the Bandits. Toronto scored four goals in the final two minutes to make the scoreline more respectable, with Tom Schreiber involved in each tally. The man dubbed “Captain America” finished with six points in his return from injury. Last week: 1  

3. San Diego Seals (5-2)

The Seals won a third straight road contest, surviving a late Wings push for a 12-11 win. Tre Leclaire set a new career high with nine points and was one of six San Diego players with at least three points. That group included Curtis Dickson, who scored the eventual game winner with 10:23 remaining in the fourth quarter. Last week: 3

4. Buffalo Bandits (4-3)

The Bandits are orchestrating a puzzling resume, collecting impressive wins against San Diego, Toronto and Rochester despite falling short against New York and Georgia. A 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter, a spurt that helped the team erase a one-goal deficit, helped Buffalo secure the win. Chase Fraser was stellar, scoring potentially the goal of the year as part of a five-point night. Last week: 6

5. Halifax Thunderbirds (3-3)

The T-Birds never trailed in their 13-8 win against Rochester and kept at least four goals of distance for the entirety of the second half. Ryan Benesch scored five times — four in the first half — to help Halifax snap a three-game losing streak. Clarke Petterson and Randy Staats matched Benesch with five points. Last week: 7

6. Rochester Knighthawks (3-3)

Connor Fields (three goals) was the only player with more than two points for the K-Hawks, who have lost three straight after a strong start. Ryan Smith and Ryan Lanchbury were held to two points each, while former first overall pick Thomas McConvey went scoreless. Buffalo looms as a challenge next week as Rochester looks to get back on track. Last week: 5

7. Georgia Swarm (4-4)

The Swarm have lost three straight — decimating good will created by a previous win streak of the same length — after a 14-11 defeat at the hands of New York. Lyle Thompson matched Jeff Teat in the battle of stars with six points, but Georgia never led in the second half after losing a one-goal advantage in the second quarter. Last week: 4

8. Panther City Lacrosse Club (3-3)

Callum Crawford joked earlier this season he was motivated by an opponent calling him “washed.” No one can use that chirp again after his historic performance against Las Vegas. Crawford set a new NLL record for first half points with 12, part of a 15-point night in his team’s 21-12 drubbing of the Desert Dogs. Will Malcom was nearly as prolific, recording 14 points. PCLC led by as much as 15 in the third quarter. Last week: 10

9. New York Riptide (3-4)

Are the Riptide starting to put things together? New York has won three of its last four, with Jeff Teat recording 31 points during that span. Six of those points came against Georgia, including a hat trick in the first quarter. A 4-1 third quarter proved to be the difference, as New York built upon a one-goal lead. Reilly O’Connor and Connor Kearnan each had seven points, with O’Connor’s all coming on assists. Last week: 13

10. Colorado Mammoth (3-4)

The Mammoth set a new season high for goals for a second straight week, with Eli McLaughlin leading the way in a 14-8 win against Vancouver. McLaughlin recorded 10 points — his first double-digit performance since 2022 — after opening the night with a natural hat trick. Colorado led by seven on four occasions, helped by Dillon Ward’s 38 saves. Last week: 11

11. Philadelphia Wings (2-4)

The Wings ended their game against San Diego on a four-goal run, with Sam LeClair putting Philadelphia down a lone goal with 51 seconds remaining. A final opportunity to equalize came with under 10 seconds remaining, but Chris Origlieri made a critical save on Holden Cattoni to fend off the comeback. Ben McIntosh recorded a season-high eight points. Last week: 8

12. Calgary Roughnecks (2-3)

The Roughnecks had the weekend off, getting time to prepare for a doubleheader. Calgary hosts New York on Friday and Toronto on Saturday. Last week: 8

13. Vancouver Warriors (2-5)

The Warriors move up one spot with no help from their own performance, instead serving as the beneficiaries of Las Vegas’ lopsided affair. Coach Curt Malawsky put on an honest and passionate postgame press conference following another disappointment, urging his team to battle in the tough areas with more consistency. Vancouver went down 7-1 early, disappointing another strong crowd for the franchise. Last week: 14

14. Las Vegas Desert Dogs (2-4)

The Desert Dogs scored just once in the first 17 minutes, allowing Panther City to mount a 10-1 opening run that ballooned to 15-3 by halftime. Las Vegas, which lost to Saskatchewan 17-5 earlier in the season, is now responsible for the two worst scoring differentials this year. Rob Hellyer had nine points. Last week: 12

15. Saskatchewan Rush (1-5)

The Rush shook up their bench during a bye week, parting ways with Bruce Alexander. Derek Keenan, who moved into a general manager role in 2020 after three championships as Rush head coach, is returning to the bench as a co-head coach with Jimmy Quinlan. Keenan is the all-time leader in wins in league history. His first game back will come Saturday against Panther City. Last week: 15