The National Lacrosse League, the largest and most successful professional lacrosse property in the world, will officially start its 35th season with Face Off Weekend, Dec. 3-4, with six games across North America, highlighting a series of exciting changes for 2021-22. A new two-conference format, extended playoffs, and the inaugural season of Panther City Lacrosse Club are among the changes in the upcoming season.
The NLL’s 14 teams competing this year will be aligned into two conferences: East (Albany FireWolves, Buffalo Bandits, Georgia Swarm, Halifax Thunderbirds, New York Riptide, Philadelphia Wings, Rochester Knighthawks, and Toronto Rock), and West (Calgary Roughnecks, Colorado Mammoth, Panther City Lacrosse Club, San Diego Seals, Saskatchewan Rush, and Vancouver Warriors).
The new alignment means a revised playoff format, with the top four teams in the East and top three in the West advancing to the playoffs. The eighth playoff slot will go to the team with the better record between the fifth place East and fourth place West teams, per NLL tiebreaker rules. The first round will be single elimination, while the second round and finals will each be best-of-three series.
The first matchup for the 2021-22 season will take place on Friday, Dec. 3, when Colorado visits San Diego. On Saturday, Dec. 4, there will be five matches, with Calgary visiting Buffalo, Philadelphia visiting Georgia, Rochester visiting New York, Saskatchewan visiting Halifax and Albany taking on Toronto in its new home in Hamilton, Ontario. Two teams, Vancouver and expansion Panther City, will have byes the first weekend.
“It’s very exciting to announce Face Off Weekend and returning to play,” said NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz. “Face Off Weekend will mark a long-anticipated return to play for the NLL in a very big way with a new TSN Game of the Week partnership featuring 20+ games on linear television and the remaining matchups streamed on TSN digital platforms.
“Combined with our 14th team, our Panther City Lacrosse Club in Fort Worth, Texas, a new conference alignment and expanded playoff format, there will be more games, more access for fans, and more amazing NLL electricity and excitement,” Sakiewicz added. “With more announcements coming in the months and weeks ahead, this will truly be a season to remember for all.”
The entire NLL schedule and game times, as well as national broadcast showings, will be announced in the coming weeks. Each team will have nine home games during the regular season, followed by the playoffs and the league championship series. The Calgary Roughnecks, who defeated the Buffalo Bandits to win the 2019 NLL Title, are the league defending champions, since the 2019-20 NLL season was not completed due to the pandemic.
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