Buffalo Tops Power Rankings After Wild Weekend of Comebacks, OT Games

PHOTO BY BEN GREEN / BUFFALO BANDITS

Dhane Smith registered his 700th career point as the Bandits stayed undefeated.


No lead is safe in the National Lacrosse League. Unfortunately for the Vancouver Warriors, they learned that the hard way Friday night.

The Warriors were cruising in the first quarter against the Colorado Mammoth, scoring an improbable seven straight goals in the first 4:35 of the night. That seven-goal advantage remained at the end of the first quarter and was stretched to eight when Logan Schuss found the back of the net to start the second.

Yet the Mammoth were undeterred. They shook themselves off and put together a comeback for the ages.

An 8-3 run in the second quarter got Colorado back within striking distance before a three-goal spurt to start the third put the Mammoth ahead for the first time at 13-12. Another three straight stretched between the third and fourth quarters helped Colorado stay on top in an 18-15 triumph.

“It was a tough start,” forward Ryan Lee said postgame. “We just kept our composure up front. … We put it together. We came back, and it was a great game. It was a good win for the whole team."

Lee was a big reason for the Mammoth turnaround. He dished out 10 assists, three off the single-game NLL record set by Mark Steenhuis, in addition to a pair of goals. Eli McLaughlin had seven points, and Chris Wardle added six for a Colorado squad that’s tied atop the West Division.

WINGS HOLD ON IN OT

Blaze Riorden saved the Philadelphia Wings from a potentially disastrous mistake in a thrilling matinee matchup Saturday at Wells Fargo Center.

Down one goal with less than 30 seconds left, the Georgia Swarm opted to pull goalie Mike Poulin to double the Wings’ ballcarrier and attempt to force a turnover. Matt Rambo took the calculated risk and shot on the empty cage but missed, allowing the Swarm to recover for one last opportunity.

Brendan Bomberry made the most of his team’s new life. With just over one second remaining in regulation, he buried a shot to force overtime.

But Riorden was able to answer. He took a pass up top from Kevin Crowley and shot it past Poulin for a 12-11 victory.

Rambo led the Wings with six points in a game that heated up offensively in the second half. The teams went into their locker rooms tied 2-2 at the break. Eric Penney, signed by Philadelphia earlier in the week, made an impressive 50 saves.

FIREWOLVES GET HISTORIC VICTORY

The FireWolves secured their first victory in Albany Saturday night against one of the NLL’s best.

A 6-1 game-ending run which featured a pair of goals from Andrew Kew helped Albany secure a 10-5 home victory against the Saskatchewan Rush. It was a balanced offensive effort, led by three points each from Kew and Joe Resetarits, as the squad rebounded from a one-sided loss to Rochester in its last contest.

“It’s significant,” Albany coach Glenn Clark told media after the game. “To be honest, you guys were in here with me last time, that’s why I was so devastated and disappointed because … when you do come to a new city, although we’re not a new franchise, we’re new here. You want to perform. And it’s not necessarily about wins and losses. Just, we were so bad in that game. The message was, we want to show what we are, whether it’s a win or a loss. We need to perform, and so it’s significant to me, for sure.”







BANDITS LAST UNDEFEATED

Chase Fraser never missed out on an opportunity to get the Buffalo Bandits faithful on their feet Saturday night, whether that was with highlight goals or by taking part in some extracurriculars.

Fraser scored four times in the Bandits’ 12-6 win against the Toronto Rock, including once off a nasty swim move.

Fraser also took part in one of a handful of skirmishes at the end of contest, an adversarial finish to a game that started with both teams standing together. The Bandits celebrated Tucker Out Lymphoma Night for an eighth time, honoring the life of former Bandit Shawn Williams’ late son Tucker.

Chris Cloutier had seven points, while Josh Byrne and Dhane Smith each had six for one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the league. The Buffalo defense held a Rock offense playing without Dan Dawson and Tom Schreiber scoreless for the first 21 minutes of action.

Shawn Williams spoke to the Bandits prior to opening faceoff.

“How do you not go out there and give it your all after hearing about how special Tucker was?” Bandits coach John Tavares said. “He didn’t get the opportunity to play the game he loved, but these guys get to do exactly that by playing professional lacrosse. … How do you not go out there and play your absolute hardest?”

19-YEAR-OLDS BACK SEALS

Christopher Origlieri needed to be mature beyond his years for the San Diego Seals to win Saturday night. And that he was.

The 19-year-old goalie, the first 2002-born player in the NLL, was thrust between the pipes after Frank Scigliano was put into COVID protocols. He responded by making 29 saves in San Diego’s 15-12 victory against Panther City.

“We couldn’t be happier for Chris,” Seals coach and general manager Patrick Merrill said. “He’s a young kid out there, stepping up in a big way, and we’re proud of his effort. This was a big win.”

Dane Dobbie led the way offensively for San Diego, notching seven points.

NOTEWORTHY

Teams around the league wore Every Child Matters warmup shirts to raise awareness about Native American residential and boarding schools. … The weekend’s Roughnecks at Knighthawks matchup was postponed due to COVID-19 transmission. … Panther City traded Ryan Benesch to Albany for Johnny Pearson, a 2022 first-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick. Benesch scored twice in his FireWolves debut. … Derek Keenan stepped behind the Saskatchewan Rush bench again with coach Jeff McComb unavailable. … Buffalo’s Dhane Smith reached 700 career points against Toronto, while teammate Josh Byrne reached 100 career assists. … The Toronto Rock announced they plan to play next week’s game against Halifax without fans in attendance due to provincial guidelines.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Buffalo Bandits
2. Halifax Thunderbirds
3. San Diego Seals
4. Philadelphia Wings
5. Colorado Mammoth
6. Toronto Rock
7. Vancouver Warriors
8. Rochester Knighthawks
9. Georgia Swarm
10. Albany FireWolves
11. Saskatchewan Rush
12. Calgary Roughnecks
13. New York Riptide
14. Panther City Lacrosse Club

UP NEXT
ALL TIME EASTERN

Friday

Seals at Rush, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday

FireWolves at Wings, noon

Thunderbirds at Rock, 7 p.m.

Swarm at Bandits, 7:30 p.m.

Panther City at Riptide, 7:30 p.m.

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