Editor’s Note: We’re back with another NLL Game of the Week! Thanks to the help of the innovative team at SISU Guard, the Official Mouthguard of the NLL, we are beefing up our National Lacrosse League coverage for 2016! We hope you enjoy our look at the NLL season through a new lens with the aid of our partner SISU!
You must think your fancy now, huh? Yeah I’m talking to you Georgia Swarm, showing up two weeks in a row as a NLL Game of the Week! Last week, your performance was anything but disappointing, although you may not be thrilled about a loss. This week, we expect nothing less as you show some of the Southern hospitality when you open your doors to the Buffalo Bandits.
Despite a flawless home record, the Bandits are 0-2 on the road and the Swarm are really only one bad game from being highest scoring team in the league and owning first place. This one should be a track meet and it most definitely has our attention, here’s why it should have yours!
NLL Game of the Week
Buffalo Bandits (3-2) at Georgia Swarm (3-3)
When: 3/14/2016 – 2:05 pm ET
Where: Infinite Energy Arena – Duluth, Georgia
Watch: Fox Sports GO
[mks_one_half]Standing: 1st in Eastern Conference (Tied)
Watch For: League points leader Dhane Smith to be a terror for the Swarm defense to deal with as one of the most lethal and active forwards in the NLL.
Points Leader: Dhane Smith – 16 goals + 27 assists (1st)
Things to work on: The Bandits need to get a road-win under their belts and to continue improving on shot selection and hitting the cage. Their endurance will be tested by the youngsters.
[mks_one_half]Standing: 2nd in Eastern Conference (.5 back)
Watch for: The young Swarm forwards to keep the veteran Bandits defense on their toes. They
Points Leader: Randy Staats – 13 goals + 18 assists (5th)
Needs to work on: Buffalo scoring doesn’t come from everywhere, so the defense will need to step up big to limit opportunities from Smith, Benesch and Steenhuis. They must keep the ball moving to avoid stale quarters like they faced last week.
The Bandits are coming in hot off a win over the Black Wolves in Banditland, but the darkness has been creeping in when Buffalo goes mobile. Flawless at home, the Bandits are 0-2 on the road, with one loss coming in OT to Colorado and the other by 4 the first night in New England. In the crease, Davide DiRuscio and Anthony Cosmo have been fairly equal in net, neither posting mind-blowing numbers so far but doing what they can to keep the Bandits in games. The three top scorers of Buffalo are going to be a tall order for the Swarm defense to contain.
Dhane Smith is sitting in the first place seat for the entire NLL scorers with 43 points coming so far. His trusty sidekicks Ryan Benesch and Mark Steenhuis are doing as veterans do and sharing the goals and assists loads. Mitch Jones has also put up 10 points so far in 2016, but like last year, the surprising offensive factor is Alex Kedoh Hill, the Six Nations star that’s racked up 5 goals and 3 assists in the 3 games he dressed. In the draw circle, Jay Thoribert has been the man to beat this year and should be able to come out above .500 against whatever the Swarm throw at him.
Georgia only has only finished 1 of there 6 games with less than 10 goals. We’ve seen the incredibly young offense light up the scoreboard hitting a high of 20 on the season so far. Johnny Powless has more goals this season than he did all of last year and is well on his way to beating his 2014 totals while rookie Randy Staats is blowing the doors of defenders and grinding it out play after play to maintain his spot as #5 on the total points list.
In net, Brodie MacDonald has been showing more consistency than they’ve been used to in recent seasons and is helping to take games down to the wire. Miles Thompson has been playing with a chip on his shoulder, getting down and dirty while clearing a ton of space. Like brother Lyle, neither have gone nuts in scoring columns just yet, but their value to the offense has been in no way unnoticed. Shayne Jackson is tied with Powless for points, just two behind Staats and is always good for a few in any given night. It’s big Jesse King that can come out of the woodwork at anytime and use his handles and range to make teams cringe as he makes plays all over the offensive side.
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Week 7 Games
- Saskatchewan Rush at Colorado Mammoth – 9:30 pm – Watch ESPN
- Vancouver Stealth at Rochester Knighthawks – 7:30 pm – Fox Sports GO
- Colorado Mammoth at Calgary Roughnecks – 9 pm – Watch ESPN
- Toronto Rock at New England Black Wolves – 3:00 pm – Fox Sports GO
Which game are you looking forward to the most? Make your predictions for this weekend and the rest of the 2016 NLL season in the comment section below!