Week 7 Power Rankings see Peterborough leave the Bottom Spot
1 (1) Oshawa Outlaws (5-1)
Last week: W14-5 v St. Catharines
This week: @ Peterborough
Higgins is the easiest pick for any position. He's been consistently brilliant. Oshawa has clearly established itself as the best team in the league to this point, but the gap wouldn't be nearly so wide if Higgins didn't stop almost everything thrown his way. He gives his teammates a load of confidence that allows the defenders to aggressively take away chances. When they do mess up, he's there to bail them out.
Tomkinson is a force. Spanger is even better—he may be the best player in the league right now—but he's only played three games so I wasn't comfortable putting him on the first team. You just can't not have him in this discussion at all, though; he's too dominant. I hate having to leave Darryl Robertson off the ALL-star teams because he's also been consistently excellent for Oshawa, but there's only so much space.
It's a little weird that no Oshawa forwards made the teams even though the Outlaws lead the league with 13.3 goals per game. That's partly because so much of their scoring comes from the transition game led by Tomkinson, Spanger and Gage Board. It's also because their offence achieves its success by spreading the ball, the shots and the scoring around. Any of Mike Triolo, John St. John, Dylan Goddard or Ryan McMichael would fit right in as ALL-stars but the collective has really been the story there, rather than any one player.
2 (2) Paris RiverWolves (4-3)
Last week: W15-14 v Peterborough
This week: v St. Catharines at ILA
Keane is no stranger to accolades at the minor league level—he was an all-star the last two years in CLax after finishing second in the league in scoring each season. He has kept things rolling in the ALL: Keane leads the league in assists (27) and points (37). Keane loves to shoot and can score from pretty much anywhere, but he's also always had a keen passing eye (if you'll pardon the pun). It's the latter that has really shone this season.
You could flip Keane and Thenhaus if you wanted to: the latter leads the league with 16 goals on extremely efficient shooting and he uses his big body to provide physical play without going over the line (just four minor penalties in six games). You could also make a strong argument for Mike Burke to be included on one of the teams; he leads the league with 7 ppg on 5 goals and 23 assists in just four contests. Like with Spanger, limited appearances impact his candidacy.
Ulbikas is tough in his own end while only taking one minor penalty all season, he is the focal point of the RiverWolves' transition game and he just seems to be part of many of the good things that happen for Paris. Orleman has had some ups and downs but has been generally solid and often sensational for a team that doesn't always provide its goalies as much support as the coaching staff would like.
3 (3) Six Nations Snipers (5-2)
Last week: W11-8 v St. Catharines
This week: @ Toronto
A trio of young players are performing very well for Six Nations. Leading them all, though—both literally and figuratively—is Roger Vyse. His 37 points tie Keane for tops in the ALL and his veteran presence is a boon for Travis Longboat, Haodais Maracle and Layne Smith. Any of those three could force their way into consideration for the year-end ALL-star teams with an excellent second half. It's hard to imagine any of them could be more important to the team, though, than Vyse.
I'm also a big Jake Crans fan, but he fell just short of cracking the top six who are included here.
4 (4) St. Catharines ShockWave (3-4)
Last week: L11-8 @ Six Nations, L14-5 @ Oshawa
This week: v Paris, v Toronto in Peterborough
Bryan Neufeld and Chris Attwood were both contenders. Neufeld has 31 points but only 8 goals despite taking 52 shots, almost as many at Attwood's 59. Attwood has 15 goals and 15 assists and is clearly one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the ALL, as he was throughout the tenure of CLax. His propensity for taking penalties that hurt his team do undermine his scoring prowess, though—he leads the league with 69 PIM, 22 more than second-place Mark Debrone.
Houtby has been a beast in his own end for the ShockWave all season. He's as consistently difficult to play against as any defender in the league. Grant Crawley was a tossup with Orleman for the second-team goalie.
5 (6) Peterborough Timbermen (1-6)
Last week: L15-14 @ Paris, W 17-9 v Toronto in Oshawa
This week: v Oshawa
Michel is the second coming of Chad Culp: ready, willing and able to grind for his teammates but also able to chip in with scoring when chances arrive. Michel wouldn't have been on the ALL-star list before Week 7 but his 8-goal weekend has him rising up the ranks of the league's top performers.
Rennie has been close to making it as an NLL regular for several years but has kept falling just short. A bigger summer role after being traded from the Peterborough Lakers to Cobourg Kodiaks last year helped develop his overall game. He's taken things to another level this winter, leading the Timbermen defence with solid checking and an increased presence in the transition game. Rennie has taken too many undisciplined penalties—he'll have to better balance aggression and discipline to move on to the next level, but his improvement in the last eight months should have NLL teams keeping an eye on him if they need reinforcements in the back end.
Ryan Masters is one of only two ALL goalies to have a goals against average under 10 (9.46), and also one of only two with a save percentage north of .800 (.811). If he had played more than 126 minutes, he would have made the second team; he'll need to keep playing well over more minutes to earn a spot.
5 (5) Toronto Monarchs (2-4)
Last week: L17-9 v Peterborough in Oshawa
This week: v Six Nations, v St. Catharines in Peterborough
Critch does it all for a Monarchs club that is last in the league in scoring (although they have a game in hand on St. Catharines and Peterborough). He's a solid defender who uses his high lacrosse IQ to help make those around him better as well. He pushes the ball up the floor and makes smart decisions about when to go for the net and when to pull the ball out and set up. He's also a good feeder when he stays up for the occasional offensive shift, sitting just two assists behind team leaders Matt Lyons and Jordan Dance with 11.