It’s one of the stranger weeks in the National Lacrosse League because if you had plans to go to the Knighthawks’ game against the Wings today in Philadelphia, and you’re reading this at home or work, you’re late. The first game of Week 6 for the NLL is an 11 a.m. buffet special and the Wings will be using this game to get back on track. They opened the season with a pair of wins but then lost 2 last weekend. Rochester, meanwhile, kicks off a stretch that sees it play 3 game in 9 days after finally winning its first game of the season this past Saturday. But after today’s game in Philadelphia, the Knighthawks will be en route to Buffalo where they’ll face off against the rival Bandits at 7:30 on Saturday night. Rochester is the only team playing twice this weekend.
Also Friday, the Toronto Rock are at the Minnesota Swarm and Rock forward Garrett Billings said earlier this week he’s looking forward to his first trip as a player to Minnesota. The Rock can take control of the East Division, especially with a Buffalo loss to Rochester on Saturday. A 6-1 start would match the Rock’s best since 2010, when it eventually lost to Washington in the NLL final.
The Bandits have been talking about keeping their cool and staying out of the penalty box, but can they do that against a rival they love chirp at and shove around? The Knighthawks will be sure to flap their gums a bit to draw the Bandits off their game because if the Birds can win in Philadelphia and Buffalo, they’ll be back at .500.
The West Division is not so clear-cut, at least not on the surface. Calgary is in first place with a 3-2 record, but it’s won 3 straight after a 0-2 start. The Roughnecks are back at home after 3 straight on the road and their game Saturday is a rematch with Edmonton, a team they beat last week for the 9th straight time dating back to 2010. Can Edmonton ever get over the mental hump of losing to Calgary?
The late game and final game of the weekend has Colorado at Washington. The Mammoth gained some confidence on the back end with the leadership of Matt Roik in cage. The result was holding Minnesota to 9 goals in a 15-9 win, but holding the Stealth to that few is a tall, tall order. The Stealth have lost 3 of their last 4, but they did beat the Mammoth, 17-13, on Jan. 12 in Denver.
The only North American Lacrosse League game is Saturday night when the Rhode Island Kingfish visit the Baltimore Bombers for an 8 p.m. faceoff at Baltimore. The Kingfish (0-3) have struggled at both ends in their first 3 games, giving up an NALL-most 16.3 goals per game while scoring just 9.7 per game. Baltimore beat Rhode Island 12-8 on Jan. 20, but the Bombers (3-2) will have some new faces in the lineup for this one, including former NLL player Josh Funk and former NCAA players Travis Reed (Maryland) and Josh Hoffman (Messiah College).
It’s a busy weekend for CLax with 4 games on tap. Two games are tonight followed by 1 on Saturday and another on Sunday. Tonight, the Iroquois Ironmen (0-3) at are the Brampton Inferno (1-2) and the Toronto Shooting Stars (3-1) are at the Ohsweken Demons (4-2). Both are at 8 p.m. Saturday, the Barrie Blizzard (0-2) are at Brampton for a 2 p.m. faceoff and the weekend capper on Sunday is the Durham Turfdogs (2-1) at the Niagara Lock Monsters (2-1), which kicks off at 7 p.m.
The Ironmen are looking for their first win of the season and they’ll have to find a way to cut back on the 18 goals-allowed per game in order to do that. They’ve played all 3 of their games at home so maybe a trip to the Powerade Centre may help the Ironmen.
The Ohsweken Demons lead the league with 90 goals but that’s mainly due to the fact that they’ve played 6 games and no one else has played more than 4. Still, that’s an impressive 15-goal average so that’s not the Demons’ problem. Allowing nearly 13 goals per game is and make no mistake, the Shooting Stars will test that average. Aaron Grayson (7-13, 20), Mack O’Brien (9-6, 15) and former NLLers in Derek Hopcroft and Josh Wasson-Quigge (12 points each) give Toronto a potent front door. A win pushes the Demons’ lead to 4 points while a loss drops the teams into a tie at the top of the table.
Brampton is right back at it on Saturday against a Barrie team that’s also looking for its first win this season. The Blizzard have played just 2 games so probably are still searching for their groove and the first-year Shooting Stars will provide a valuable measuring stick. On Sunday, the Lock Monsters bring an offense that’s averaging 18 goals an outing through their first 3 games, giving the Turfodgs a tall order on the road.Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to RochesterSports.com.
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