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Vancouver Warriors

NLL Power Rankings: Red-Hot Warriors Making Their Case

April 8, 2024
Jack Goods
Jaclyn McKee

The National Lacrosse League’s unified standings are working exactly as intended. You’d need to be Doctor Strange to assess all the different pathways the final few weeks of the season could go.

All we know right now: four teams are definitely in, and two are definitely out.

1. San Diego Seals (12-4)

The Seals ended on a 5-0 run with goals from five different players to secure a 14-10 victory against Panther City and a home game for the upcoming quarterfinals. Austin Staats equalized at 10 with 4:57 remaining, then fed Wes Berg for the go-ahead goal about two and a half minutes later. With 47 goals on the season, he’s set a new franchise record. Last week: 1

2. Toronto Rock (13-3)

With their opponents rocking retro Albany Attack uniforms, the Rock played along by recreating the result of the 2002 NLL Finals. Like that night, Toronto finished on top against Albany, riding a 6-1 second quarter to a 10-7 victory. Tom Schreiber had six points, Nick Rose scored a goal to cap off an impressive goalie duel, and Challen Rogers had three points and eight loose balls in his return from injury. Last week: 2

3. Georgia Swarm (10-7)

Georgia pulled away in the final minutes against the already eliminated Desert Dogs, closing with three straight in a 13-9 triumph. With the result, Georgia is back in the postseason for the first time since 2019. Andrew Kew and Shayne Jackson shut the door and led the way with six and five points, respectively. Last week: 3

4. Buffalo Bandits (9-7)

The Bandits got major reinforcements on the back end this week — returning Justin Martin and Justin Robinson — and it resulted in the team’s best defensive performance since January. Buffalo scored the final three goals of the game, with Dhane Smith accounting for the game winner, to earn a 13-11 win against Colorado and a season sweep in the rematch of last year’s NLL Finals. Chris Cloutier matched his season best with six points. Last week: 6

5. Halifax Thunderbirds (9-8)

The Thunderbirds scored the first four goals of the game and led by five in the second quarter but were unable to hold on in a 15-13 defeat against Vancouver. Austin Shanks had seven points despite the T-Birds being held to five goals in the second half. The Warriors, meanwhile, doubled that total in the final 30 minutes. Last week: 5

6. Albany FireWolves (10-6)

The FireWolves are the toughest team to place in the power rankings, with their recent struggles weighing against their impressive record. Falling to the Toronto Rock is nothing to be embarrassed about, but the result pushed Albany’s losing streak to four games. The season ends with matchup against two hungry teams in the middle of the pack, Panther City and New York. Can a young group handle the adversity? Last week: 4

7. New York Riptide (8-8)

Jeff Teat was instrumental for the Riptide, getting a point on each of New York’s first seven goals in a 14-9 win against Rochester. He finished with nine points, while Stephen Keogh did his fair share in a five-point performance. Keogh scored three times in the third quarter as part of a 7-0 Riptide run. Thanks to the teams’ recent resurgences, New York vs. Vancouver next week is a game to watch. Last week: 7

8. Panther City Lacrosse Club (8-8)

PCLC predictably split the weekend, falling to the talented Seals before upending lowly Philadelphia. Both games were within a goal in the final quarter, with Panther City avoiding an 0-2 with a game-closing 3-0 run against Philadelphia. Jason Knox equalized inside the final five minutes, while Jonathan Donville put the squad ahead a bit over two minutes later. Will Malcom and Callum Crawford each finished with 11 points on the weekend, while Knox had a career-high eight points against Philadelphia. Last week: 7

9. Vancouver Warriors (7-9)

The Warriors are suddenly the hottest team in the NLL. Perhaps the Curt Malawsky effect just takes a couple months? Vancouver dug itself out of a five-goal hole, eventually tying Halifax when Steph Charbonneau equalized at 10 late in the third quarter. Keegan Bal scored two of his five back-to-back in the fourth quarter to give the team the lead for good. Vancouver has won four straight with games remaining at home vs. New York and at San Diego. Last week: 12

10. Saskatchewan Rush (7-9)

Saskatchewan and Calgary split a home-and-home in the prairies, with each squad winning in friendly confines. After falling 12-10 Friday, Saskatchewan never trailed in a 12-9 triumph Saturday. Robert Church had eight points and Zach Manns added seven as the Rush forced a three-way tie for ninth place in the standings. Last week: 9

11. Calgary Roughnecks (7-9)

The Rush got 21 more shots off than Calgary in the first game of the weekend series, but Christian del Bianco made 52 saves to backstop the Riggers to victory. He didn’t allow Saskatchewan to score until midway through the second quarter, helping Calgary lead by as much as five before a late Rush push. Tanner Cook had seven assists and scored once. Last week: 10

12. Rochester Knighthawks (6-9)

The K-Hawks fell in a crucial matchup when it comes to their position in the standings despite a five-point performance from Ryan Lanchbury. A 5-1 run in the fourth got Rochester within two goals but New York responded with a three-goal spurt of its own. Rochester has lost three straight and faces stiff competition with Toronto and Georgia up next on the schedule. Last week: 11

13. Colorado Mammoth (5-10)

The Mammoth are still alive when it comes to the postseason chase, but just barely. Three players recorded five points against the Bandits, including Zed Williams, who put the team ahead 11-10 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Colorado has double-digit defeats for the first time since 2019. Last week: 13

14. Philadelphia Wings (5-11)

Ben McIntosh put the Wings up 10-9 with 9:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, but that was the last time Philadelphia beat Panther City’s Nick Damude. The Wings have lost four straight and are now eliminated from playoff contention. Last week: 14

15. Las Vegas Desert Dogs (4-12)

The Desert Dogs stayed close with Georgia, tying the game at 6 in the second quarter and 8 in the third. They even got within a goal when Charlie Bertrand made it 10-9 in the early stages of the fourth but couldn’t play the role of spoiler. Last week: 15