And then there were none
The NLL is officially fresh out of undefeated teams. The Buffalo Bandits handed the Toronto Rock their first loss of the season with a 16-14 final. The game probably wasn’t as close as the final says; Buffalo was up 16-10 with under three minutes left. Some frantic comeback goals were netted, but Buffalo was in control. Of note, Tom Schreiber returned for the Rock, and had a hand in all four of those final goals for Toronto. The Rock still look dangerous, but the Bandits just seem to give them fits. Buffalo has now won seven of the last eight meetings with Toronto. If the Rock are going to take a shot at the title, they’ll need to exorcize those Bandit demons to do it.
Here come the Riptide?
Don’t look now, but New York is looking dangerous. They went into Banditland and won two weeks ago, and then put up a 14 spot on Georgia at home in another win this week. New York is in a very difficult stretch. They’ll play Calgary next week, then it’s San Diego, Toronto, Colorado, and Albany in a row. The Toronto game is in Montreal. No easy ones in there. But New York looks like a team who can go toe to toe, or at least welcome a shootout, with anyone. Jeff Teat had six points against Georgia and has 37 over his last five games, averaging over seven points per game. That coincides with the addition of Stephen Keogh to the offense, who had three points against Georgia and four goals against Buffalo. The offense is clearly in rhythm for New York, and the Riptide are have a schedule chock full of opportunities.
Callum Crawford was checking off milestones like me cruising through Costco on a Saturday morning. He had a career high in goals (eight), became the only player in NLL history with multiple 14+ point games, set a career high in points (15), recorded the 2nd fastest sock trick even, the 4th fastest hat trick ever, set a record for most points in a half (12), all in his 450th career game. At one point he had eight goals on eight shots. The NLL record for points in a game is 17 held by Mark Steinhuis. Crawford recorded his 15th point just three minutes into the third quarter, and history was insight. But Crawford got most of the rest of the night off. At 39 years old and with a scoreline of 18-3, you can’t really blame Coach Kelusky for giving Crawford a breather. But there were definitely fans at home hoping to see him try and get to the points record.
Halifax breaks the slide
The Birds needed that one. They took on Rochester looking to snap their three game losing streak, and played like a team desperate for a win in the first half. Ryan Benesch took on the role of “guy who will absolutely not let his team lose” in this one, netting five goals and picking up seven loose balls. The Hawks are a damn good team, and this one felt like a shootout coming in. So it’s credit to the play of guys like Graeme Hossack, Ryan Terefenko, Tyson Bell, Warren Hill in net and the rest of the defense that Rochester only had eight goals. Four in the first half. Ryan Lanchbury, Thomas McConvey, and Ryan Smith had just two goals and two assists combined. Connor Fields had a hat trick because he always does, but team defense beat team offense which is a welcome sight for the Birds.
Who’s number one?
Power rankings are going to be interesting. Toronto lost, but the Buffalo team that beat them just lost at home to New York. But maybe that’s not such a bad loss anymore, New York looks good lately? San Diego is sort of jekyll and hyde-ing their way through the season and squeaked out a win against Philly, should they be number one? Can you put Albany in the top spot even though they didn’t play this week? Many suitors for the crown, not an easy call to decide whose head it will rest on for week 10. And that’s what makes the sport so fun.