CLAX Power Rankings: Week Nine

Week nine of the Canadian Lacrosse League season saw some balanced restored. As the Ohsweken Demons got revenge on the Durham Turfdogs on Friday night, defeating them by a score of 13-11, while the Barrie Blizzard continue to prove they are the top team in the Canadian Lacrosse League this season, with a 12-8 defeat of the Niagara Lockmonsters. Niagara’s loss to the Blizzard on Sunday, effectively ended their 2015 season, as the defending champs have played out their 8 game schedule, and find themselves with just a 2-6 record. This coming week of CLAX action sees the Ohsweken Demons and Barrie Blizzard square off at the ILA with first place on the line, while Durham and Southwest will battle for playoff positioning.

#1. Barrie Blizzard (5-2)
Last Week: 12-8 W over Niagara

The Blizzard cemented themselves as the top team in the Canadian Lacrosse League this past weekend, defeating the Niagara Lockmonsters by a score of 12-8. The Blizzard win ousted the defending champs from playoff contention. Barrie’s success this season is in large part thanks to the goaltending of Angus Dineley. This past weekend Dineley turned aside 54 of 62 shots, it was the third straight game Dineley and the Blizzard defense allowed less then 10 goals in a game. Barrie continues to fire on all cylinders as not only is their goaltending an defense among the leagues best, their offense continues to get big contributions from the top guys, as well as timely efforts from their depth players. This past weekend the Blizzards big guns Caleb Wiles, Mike Teeter and Shane Scott led the team offensively, as Wiles 4 goals & 2 assists for 6 points earned him CLAX Offensive player of the week honours. Teeter would add 2 goals & 3 assists for 5 points, which gives him the team lead in score with 25 points in just 5 games. While Shane Scott would pick up four points on 2 goals & 2 assists. Barrie’s timely offense, big, physical, athletic defense and outstanding goaltending make them very difficult to deal with, it would not shock me to see the very deep Barrie Blizzard capture the Creators Cup in 2015.

#2. Ohsweken Demons (4-3)
Last Week: 13-11 W over Durham

After narrowly dropping a 12-11 loss to the Turfdogs on the road on February 28th, the Demons got their revenge on Durham, in the return matchup of the home and home series. In the loss the Demons where without two noticeable players in Chris Attwood and Tom Montour, their additions this past Friday seemed to make all the difference. Attwood and Montour would combine for five goals and two assists, with Attwood’s third quarter goal ultimately being the game winner. The Demons have been somewhat inconsistent this season, and that may have to do with the inconsistent lineup they piece together each week. Not that the players they interchange are not talented, actually its the complete opposite. However its hard to gain an momentum, consistency and chemistry when your constantly trotting out a different lineup. None the less the mainstays in Chris Attwood, Tom Montour, Wayne Van Every, Roger Vyse and Rodd Squire seem to be a strong nucleus to move forward with. An of course with Jake Henhawk tending goal, the team boasts one of the leagues top netminders. Look for Ohsweken to really put it together over then next couple weeks, as the Demons have thrived in games of importance.

#3. Southwest Cyclops (4-3)
Last Week: Did Not Play

The Cyclops have not played since February 21st, and while they haven’t had the opportunity to move up the power rankings or the standings, what they have done throughout the season keeps them among the top three teams in the league. The Cyclops boast a trio of high calibre goaltenders, with veteran Jay Preece leading the way. Preece has been playing atop of his game throughout the season thus far, and his ability to coral rebounds and move the ball up the floor in transition have really helped the Cyclops offensive attack. The loss of captain Mike Burke hurts Southwest, there’s no denying that. However with the likes of Dan Keane, Jordan Critch, Dylan Webster and Brady Heseltine up front, Southwest still possesses a number of potent offensive option. The addition of former high scoring junior player Ryan Serville should also help off set the loss of Burke to the NLL’s Colorado Mammoth. Defensively the Cyclops play a very aggressive in your face style, that tends to work in their favour, however it does also tend to draw a lot of attention from the refs, as they often find themselves in the box. If the defense can walk the line between staying aggressive and staying out of the box, Southwest could be a team to challenge for the league title.

#4. Durham Turfdogs (3-4)
Last Week: 13-11 L to Ohsweken

While the Turfdogs put forth a strong effort, and mounted a comeback on the Demons, they where unable to pick up the crucial two points. With the loss Durham will be unable to catch first place Barrie in the standings, however a win over Southwest this coming weekend would allow them to jump into the 3rd seed in the Canadian Lacrosse League. Durham finally shook it up a bit in net, going with veteran Cole Murray, while the goals against didn’t exactly go down, the team seemed to play with more confidence in front of Murray. Leading scorer Jesse Guerin missed the 13-11L which may have been the difference in last weekends matchup, as Guerin is usually good for at least 4/5 points a game. None the less the likes of John St. John, Tim Bergin and Brandon Armstrong stepped up offensively. St. John picked up 5 assists in the loss, while Bergin added a goal and 3 assists and Armstrong found twine on two occasions. The addition of Mack O’Brien has helped the Turfdogs transition game, the ball sharing up front has improved and the defense despite giving up 13 goals last week has improved. The weak link is still between the pipes however, and will little the team can do about the situation, it doesn’t look as though the Turfdogs will have what it takes to capture their first Creators Cup.

#5. Niagara Lockmonsters (2-6)
Last Week: 12-8 L to Barrie

Last year’s defending champs where ousted from CLAX playoff contention this past weekend with a 12-8 loss to the top seeded Barrie Blizzard. While the Lockmonsters had little to no chance of getting into the playoff picture prior to the game, a win would have at least given them some hope moving forward. Niagara just wasn’t able to piece things together until late in the season, an even then their efforts where inconsistent at best. With so much talent throughout the lineup it is very shocking that Niagara will not be competing in the 2015 CLAX playoffs. Corey Fowler, Cody Ward and Dylan Llord all picked up 3 points in the loss to Barrie, while Conor Daley and Mark Vradenburg each picked up 2 points.