There are lots of siblings competing in the National Lacrosse League and many were front and centre Saturday night. The Dawsons and little brother Brodie beat Patrick Merrill and the Toronto Rock 14-8 as Philadelphia took sole possession of first place in the East, while Calgary downed Edmonton 12-8 in the first Evans/Cornwall edition of the Battle of Alberta. In non-sibling-centric games, Colorado stayed perfect with a 12-7 win over the Swarm and Rochester’s revamped lineup pulled together for a come-from-behind 15-12 win over Washington. Get details after the jump.
At the Air Canada Centre, it was hard to say which of Philadelphia’s brothers was more impressive. Brodie Merrill put on a dominant performance in defense and transition, and the Wings’ captain displayed the grit and work ethic that is clearly infusing a Philly club that looks like it’s finding its way and should be a force to be reckoned with all year. Dan Dawson was masterful directing an offense that is becoming as potent as everyone predicted it would be when the team added him and Kevin Crowley in the offseason. Dawson had 3 goals and 7 assists and, if possible, looked better than that 10-point total suggests, involving everyone in the offense.
“We worked the ball side to side this game better than we have all season,” said Brendan Mundorf, who had 5 goals, 4 on rockets just inside the post from almost the exact same spot on the floor. “That’s something that we’ve been wanting to work on. Tonight we were trying to come out of the low corner with the pick and roll game and move the ball across the floor when the ball-side drew the attention. Dan did a great job of finding multiple guys in shooting lanes. We were shooting well, so that helps.” No one shot better than Mundorf, who repeatedly crept down the lane from the shooter spot—looking pass the whole way—then scored on open shots. He took advantage of the respect Toronto’s defense paid to the Philly right side, which was well earned. Besides Dawson’s 10-spot, Crowley had a hat trick and 5 assists and Drew Westervelt scored twice. Ned Crotty also chipped in from the left side with a goal and 4 helpers.
The Wings no-name D is also starting to gel, led by the ferociously competitive Merrill. There were hiccups, such as leaving Garrett Billings open looks that he used to score a hat trick, but for the most part they played a tenacious man defense that seldom let Toronto create open space. Head Coach Johnny Mouradian said when a group plays good team defense, it allows everyone a chance to play well, noting in particular how Steve Holmes stepped up to fill the role of Max Seibald, who was out of the lineup.
The other dressing room wasn’t feeling nearly as boisterous after the game. Rock players sat at their stalls looking dumbfounded after being outscored 8-4 in the second half by a team they had shut out in the second half of a 15-6 win in Philly two weeks ago. “They shot the ball well. When our defense is on we don’t allow them the time to get those shots off,” said Toronto captain Colin Doyle, who returned after missing three games with a lower-body injury. “I think they’ll admit they didn’t have their best back there, but Philly made some great shots. They’re a good team and they’ll do that if you give them the time and space. Contrary, at the other end, I didn’t feel like we were earning time and space and we didn’t get good shots.”
Doyle said the early-season week off last weekend wasn’t a factor. “We fell behind and we had a hard time getting the ball back. When we did get it back we turned it over and tried to force it a bit, and 9 times out of 10 those end up in the back of your net and a 3 goal lead goes to a 6 goal lead in real hurry. It’s unfortunate but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot that way.”
In Calgary, Curtis Dickson led the way for the Roughnecks with a hat trick. Travis Cornwall scored his first 2 professional goals and Shawn Evans chipped with a goal, 3 assists and 6 loose balls as the Riggers took game 1 of the newly configured Battle of Alberta. Scott Evans scored 2 goals and 3 assists while Jeff Cornwall pick up 4 loose balls for the Rush. Mike Poulin made 41 saves for the win.
Rochester put aside any distractions and got hat tricks from three players as they rode a 7-goal fourth quarter to a 15-12 win that dropped Washington to a stunning 1-5. Mike Accursi, Pat McCready and Craig Point (who wasn’t even available in NLL Fantasy after being added to the roster this week; curses) each scored 3 times to spoil Athan Iannucci’s debut with the Stealth. Lewis Ratcliff had 4 goals and 3 assists and Rhys Duch 4 goals for Washington. Nooch took only 5 shots; he managed a goal and 2 assists.
In the final game of the night, John Grant Jr. had 4 goals and 3 assists and Chris Levis made 40 saves to keep Colorado perfect with a 12-7 over Minnesota. The 6-0 Mammoth also got a pair of goals each from Gavin Prout, who added 4 assists, and Sean Pollock, who had 3 helpers. Andrew Watt was the only multiple goal scorer for the Swarm with a pair. David Earl made his NLL debut for Minnesota.
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