Another week, another opportunity for teams around the league to tell us all a bit about who they are. There’s some shuffling this week, including a new team at the top and the bottom. Some teams that were idle even moved a bit, but only because of strong performances, good and bad, by teams around them jumping up or down the list. From worst to best, here’s this weeks ranking.
15. NEW YORK RIPTIDE (down 1)
New York was thoroughly trounced by Halifax. They struggled in multiple phases. They didn’t get a true settled 5v5 goal until the second half. Their three first half goals came on a hidden ball trick, a transition chance, and the power play. New York also conceded eight goals to Halifax in that first half, including two in the final 17 seconds of the half. Riptide rookie Callum Jones made his debut, marked by getting into a fight with Jake Withers. For a second it looked like it might spark the team, Jeff Teat scored shortly after, but ultimately, New York was out classed in this one. It’s not getting any easier for the, up next is a trip to Toronto to play the Rock on Dec. 30. Could be a long winter on Long Island.
14. LAS VEGAS DESERT DOGS (down 4)
The Desert Dogs served as the “Get Right” game for Saskatchewan on Friday night. Vegas fell behind 1-0 in the game’s first 45 seconds, and then they never were within a goal again. Trailing 9-2 at half, the game felt over. Vegas fought and actually won the third quarter 3-2, but went scoreless in the final frame while giving up six goals. Vegas juggled goalies a bit in this one, emblematic of their search for answers this week. Rob Hellyer has been great, and rookie Sean Westley is very impressive notching a three point performance, but Vegas got flat out trounced. They get a week off before taking on Calgary on Dec. 30.
13. PANTHER CITY LACROSSE CLUB (down 1)
Idle this week, Panther City drops one spot as teams leap over them from behind. They’ll have a big opportunity for a statement when they host Toronto on Friday.
12. SASKATCHEWAN RUSH (up 3)
The Rush with a flat out explosion of a game and they vault up three spots. Could maybe make a case for a bigger jump. The Rush have seven short handed goals in three games. That’s a good number for a SEASON. It’s remarkable how they keep coming up with those changes on the penalty kill. Ryan Keenan was the story this week with nine assists and ten points. Zach Manns continued his incredible start. Frank Scigliano made 38 saves. It was utter dominance, wire to wire. Next up, a New Year’s Eve date with the Firewolves.
11. PHILADELPHIA WINGS (down 2)
Injury bug bit Philly hard. Blaze Riorden and Holden Cattoni are sidelined and the offense sputtered some this week. Mitch Jones can steer the ship, but the Wings need some players to step up and fill those big shoes. The defense is a separate issue. Philly gave up 15 this week to Albany, and some looked way too easy. Albany’s offense is hot, but Philly didn’t make them work for it as much as they should have. Wings have lost two in a row after holding on for a win against New York, and that win isn’t worth a ton these days. The defense needs to tune up in a hurry, because they visit Halifax on Dec. 29.
10. CALGARY ROUGHNECKS (down 2)
Idle this week. They drop as teams around them play well, and they’ve had too rough defeats to start the year. Calgary has a chance to get things moving in a positive direction when they host the Desert Dogs on Dec. 30 after a long early season break.
9. GEORGIA SWARM (down 3)
Tough to know what to do with Georgia this week. They have a win over Colorado, but now they’ve lost to Vancouver. 16 goals week one, just seven this week. It was mostly just a second half explosion from Vancouver that did it, as the halftime score was 4-3 Georgia. For now, because of the lopsided score line, the Swarm drop behind Vancouver. They get a chance to make a statement with a win at Colorado on Dec. 22.
8. VANCOUVER WARRIORS (up 5)
A statement from the Warriors this week in a game I did not expect them to win. They went into Georgia and won convincingly, 15-7. I liked the look of their defense week one, and I liked it again this weekend. They also got some incredible performances. I’m going to rewatch this one just to see Ryan Martel carve up Georgia again. Adam Charalambides star turn continued, he put up seven points. Crowley and Ball seven points each. That combo of “vet production, young stars take another step, and the defense is stiff” works for everyone, but the Warriors executed it well this week. They’ll play Rochester on Dec. 23 and put their defense to a serious test.
7. COLORADO MAMMOTH
Idle this week, holding at seven. The Mammoth get a rematch with Georgia on Dec. 22 in Colorado.
6. ROCHESTER KNIGHTHAWKS (down 1)
Idle this week, and they only drop because Albany jumps over them. Knighthawks host Vancouver on Dec. 23.
5. ALBANY FIREWOLVES (up 5)
I probably had Albany too low last week. I just was too late to the “Albany is for real” party. A little late arrival never hurt anyone though. Albany is now 3-0, the offense has put up 12, 13, and 15 goals in those games as they get better every time out. Two wins are against some not great teams in Vegas and Philly, but the win over Buffalo is undeniably impressive. Alex Simmons is a clear Rookie of the Year front runner right now. They get a week off before they’ll visit Saskatchewan on New Year’s Eve.
4. HALIFAX THUNDERBIRDS
Teams shuffle around them, but Halifax stays at four for now. There’s maybe a case to jump them over San Diego. The reason I don’t is that the two wins for the Thunderbirds have come against teams near the bottom of the rankings, Saskatchewan and New York. With Randy Staats back, the Thunderbirds offense is just about at full power, and that’s a scary sight. Jake Withers, while he left this week’s game early after defending himself and getting in a fight (a little odd how that went), is among the very best players in the league, regardless of position, and will keep things tilted the Birds way. Ryan Terefenko is going to start turning heads as one of the best defenders in the league soon; Jeff Teat had two points this week.
3. SAN DIEGO SEALS (down 2)
San Diego had the tall task of being the Banditland home opener on Championship Banner night. Not an easy place to play. To their credit, the Seals were in this one the whole way. They held a one goal lead at half time, but a massive five goal run from Buffalo in the third did them in. They charged late and had some good looks, including a Kyle Jackson goal that was waved off with around two minutes left and would have had them within two. Baptiste went 22/25 facing off, this offense will get the ball plenty and do some damage. The Seals host Rochester on Dec. 29 and that could be a shootout.
2. TORONTO ROCK
Idle this week, and stay in the two spot as a result. They host New York on Dec. 30.
1. BUFFALO BANDITS (up 2)
Defending champs back in the top spot after knocking off last week’s top team, San Diego. Buffalo had their home opener in front of 17,200 fans, put a banner in the rafters, and got their rings. It felt like there was no way they were losing that game. Any issues that showed against Albany in week one looked cleaned up, or at least improved upon. Buffalo won despite a quiet game from Chase Fraser, and losing the faceoff battle handily to Trevor Baptiste. The Bandits just have too much firepower and will overwhelm you sooner or later.