Bandits Juggernaut Keeps Rolling, Panther City Stays Hot in NLL Week 17

PHOTO COURTESY OF NLL

Tehoka Nanticoke on the Bandits: “Our entire team is a threat.”


The Buffalo Bandits are a juggernaut. They proved that again in Week 17.

In a weekend series featuring the top two teams in the East Division, Buffalo bested Halifax twice, both times by a score of 16-11. The pair of results pushed the Bandits to 12-1, four games up on Halifax and Toronto for the top spot in the East, and helped them become the first to clinch a playoff spot this season.

Dhane Smith accumulated 16 points over the weekend, pushing him into sole possession of first in the points race, while Josh Byrne had a combined 12 points. On the other side of the floor, Matt Vinc made 54 saves on Saturday and 60 on Sunday while allowing the Thunderbirds to convert on just one of its 12 power play opportunities.

Anything can happen in the playoffs, but the Bandits have clearly established themselves as the class of the National Lacrosse League.

“Our entire team is a threat,” forward Tehoka Nanticoke said. “We love the game of lacrosse, and we love Banditland.”

Buffalo looks nearly unstoppable, but they did require a comeback in the opener. Halifax went up 9-6 just 16 seconds into the third quarter with a Dawson Theede goal, but Buffalo outscored its rivals 10-2 the rest of the way. That stretch included a 7-1 run over 17 minutes of game action.

The Bandits never trailed in the second game, leading by as much as six midway through the third quarter. They are halfway through a tough slate of four games in eight nights but have started off swimmingly.

The T-Birds, meanwhile, are on a four-game slide that has dropped them into a tie with the Rock.

PANTHER CITY KEEPS ROLLING

Panther City won yet again this weekend, though with an altered script.

The expansion franchise, now victors of five straight, has often rode its talented and youthful offensive unit. On Saturday, it was the defense that shut down the Colorado Mammoth.

Nick Damude, the game’s first star, made 44 saves while backing PCLC to a 10-6 triumph. Panther City got out to a 4-0 lead after the first quarter, then rode strong play in net and five points each from Will Malcom and Patrick Dodds.

After initially looking like a team with eyes on the future, Panther City is in the thick of the playoff race. At 6-8, the squad is one game back in the loss column of both the third West playoff spot and the final “wild card” position.

“We’re just trusting our process,” forward Phil Caputo said.

BATTLE IN THE EAST

If Buffalo and Panther City are the two hottest teams in the NLL, then the Georgia Swarm are right behind them.

Georgia, which is working in plenty of youth this season, pushed its win streak to four Saturday with a valuable 10-6 victory against fellow playoff contender Toronto. To make the feat even more impressive, the Swarm did it without superstar Lyle Thompson.

Shayne Jackson put up five points in the absence of Thompson, who was placed on injured reserve. The Swarm also got multiple points each from Stephan Leblanc, Jordan Hall, Brendan Bomberry, Jordan MacIntosh and Adam Wiedemann.

Now 8-6, Georgia is a half-game back of Halifax and Toronto and comfortably in the fourth playoff spot in the East. All the East teams below the Swarm in the standings are below .500.

Eight points from Corey Small helped Philadelphia dispatch Rochester 12-8, keeping the Wings within arm’s reach at 6-7. Albany took a catastrophic hit to its postseason chances with a 15-6 defeat against New York, falling to 6-9.

Both Philadelphia and Albany’s easiest path to the playoffs is snagging that wild card position, which goes to the best team remaining outside the top four in the East and top three in the West. The Wings currently hold that spot with Panther City, Albany and Calgary serving as their top competitors.







HOLDING ON OUT WEST

Vancouver ended its four-game skid with a big-time victory against the West leaders Friday. The Warriors broke a tie with a 5-3 third quarter then held on for a 14-12 upset of the San Diego Seals.

Logan Schuss and Keegan Bal each had two goals and six assists to help Vancouver move to 6-7 and retain the third playoff spot in the West.

The Roughnecks survived a late push from the Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday to help stay in the conversation, winning 8-6 in a matchup between the defending champions and the preseason West favorite. Instead, the two find themselves together at the bottom of the division.

Curtis Dickson had six points and Jesse King had five for the Riggers, who stand at 5-7. Time is simply running out for Saskatchewan, now 4-10.

NOTEWORTHY

Toronto’s Dan Dawson played in his 307th career game, passing John Tavares for the most in league history. He’s split his lengthy career between the Columbus Landsharks, Arizona Sting, Portland LumberJax, Boston Blazers, Philadelphia Wings, Rochester Knighthawks, Saskatchewan Rush, San Diego Seals and the Rock. Dawson also tied Tavares for the most career assists with 934. … Toronto’s Nick Rose reached 5,000 career saves, becoming the ninth goalie in NLL history to do so. Colorado’s Dillon Ward reached 4,500 career saves. … Kyle Jackson was surprisingly released by Halifax this week and subsequently picked up by Philadelphia. He had a goal and five assists in his Wings debut, earning second star honors. … Dawson Theede had a strong first impression in Halifax after being traded from Panther City. He notched five points in his debut against Buffalo Saturday.

POWER RANKINGS

Last week’s rankings in parentheses:

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

UP NEXT
ALL TIMES EASTERN

Thursday

Bandits at Wings, 7:30 p.m.

Friday

Knighthawks at Thunderbirds, 6 p.m.
Rock at Swarm, 7:30 p.m.
Warriors at Roughnecks, 9 p.m.

Saturday

Seals at Rock, 7 p.m.
Wings at Riptide, 8 p.m.
Bandits at Mammoth, 9 p.m.
FireWolves at Warriors, 10 p.m.

Monday

Riptide at Mammoth, 9 p.m.

Suggested

Most Recent

All About the Vibe: Authenticity, Brand-Building Keys for PLL Athletes

The PLL puts an emphasis on showcasing the untold stories of its athletes.

Dhane Smith Earns Second NLL MVP Award

The NLL also announced its All-League and All-Rookie teams on Thursday.

Panic Never Set in for Resilient NLL Champion Mammoth

Despite losing its top two scoring options, Colorado bested Buffalo in the NLL Finals.

Vancouver Warriors Tab Troy Cordingley as Next Head Coach

Phil Sanderson also joins the staff, with three other coaches being retained.







Twitter Posts