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Mark Matthews is enjoying a career renaissance in Toronto.

NLL Power Rankings: Toronto, Rochester Remain Unbeaten

December 26, 2023
Jack Goods

National Lacrosse League fans received a trio of games underneath their Christmas trees this weekend, and that was just the appetizer. Seven more are set to come as we celebrate New Year's. 

1. Toronto Rock (2-0)

The Rock ended their matchup with Panther City on a four-goal run, bouncing back from a deficit to win 13-10. Mark Matthews continues to look comfortable in his new surroundings, notching six points, while fellow newbie Chris Boushy added four. Matthews was instrumental in the comeback, accounting for the game-tying and eventual game-winning goals. Last week: 1

2. Halifax Thunderbirds (2-0)

The T-Birds had the weekend off and return to play Friday when they host the Wings. Last week: 2

3. Rochester Knighthawks (3-0)

The Rochester doubters are quiet after the team secured a third straight victory, this time besting Vancouver 13-11. Perhaps the most surprising part of their stellar start is the play of goalie Riley Hutchcraft, who wasn’t even expected to play at all by most. He’s third among NLL starters in save percentage and fourth in goals against average. Ryan Lanchbury, the former second overall pick acquired from Georgia, tied a career high with seven points against the Warriors. Last week: 3

4. Buffalo Bandits (1-1)

The Bandits enjoyed a week off after receiving their championship rings and raising the banner last week in front of 17,000 fans. You can relive the night through this video from the team prior to Friday’s meeting with Georgia. Last week: 4

5. Albany FireWolves (3-0)

Alex Simmons was named the Rookie of the Week for a second straight time on Tuesday, continuing the FireWolves’ dominance of the award. Since Tye Kurtz won the honor in Week 1, Rookie of the Week has lived in Albany. The squad looks to keep the positive mojo going Sunday when they travel to Saskatchewan. Last week: 5

6. San Diego Seals (1-1)

The Seals host the Knighthawks Friday in a matchup of potential title contenders. Last week: 6

7. Georgia Swarm (2-1)

The Swarm never trailed in a 15-8 win against Colorado, pulling ahead for good with a five-point run that stretched from the first quarter into the second. Shayne Jackson led the way with seven points, with Lyle Thompson close behind with six. Seth Oakes, who bounced around the league a bit early in his career, has truly found a home in Georgia. He scored four times and added an assist. Last week: 9

8. Vancouver Warriors (1-2)

This isn’t the start the Warriors hoped for with Curt Malawsky coming to town, but they do have the best win of the 1-2 teams with a triumph over Georgia. It sounds weird given the teams’ recent success, but an upcoming four game stretch with games against struggling Calgary, Colorado and Saskatchewan could provide an opportunity for success. Last week: 8

9. Philadelphia Wings (1-2)

A week off for the Wings is great news. It means more time for Blaze Riorden and Holden Cattoni to heal. Up next is a matchup with Halifax on Friday. Last week: 10

10. Panther City Lacrosse Club (1-2)

Panther City has maxed out at 11 goals in a game, far from a recipe for success in the long run. This week’s ten goals were split among eight players, with only Phil Caputo and Will Malcom notching a pair.  PCLC took its first lead since the first quarter with a five-goal second half run, but couldn’t fend off Toronto in the end. Last week: 7

11. Calgary Roughnecks (0-2)

The Riggers’ 21-day break between games ends on Saturday when they battle Las Vegas. First year coach Josh Sanderson said this week the key to getting that first victory will be finishing strongerLast week: 12

12. Colorado Mammoth (0-2)

The Mammoth got good news in the return of star goalie Dillon Ward, but he wasn’t enough to keep things close with the Swarm. Injuries remain an issue for Colorado, which looks to avoid dropping to a dreary 0-3 with a loss to Vancouver next weekend. Last week: 11

13. Saskatchewan Rush (1-2)

The Rush will look to slow down red-hot Albany when they host the FireWolves Sunday. Last week: 13

14. Las Vegas Desert Dogs (1-2)

The Desert Dogs travel to Calgary to take on the Roughnecks on Saturday. Last week: 14

15. New York Riptide (0-2)

Things don’t get any easier for the struggling Riptide, who travel to Toronto on Saturday. Last week: 15