Edmonton clinched a playoff berth and Toronto earned a home playoff game with wins last night in the National Lacrosse League. The Rush ensured they’ll be in the postseason for just the second time in team history with a 14-11 win over Colorado that slid the Mammoth back into a tie for the West Division lead with Calgary (the Roughnecks hold the tiebreaker). The Rock put Washington’s hopes of even getting to the playoffs, let alone a third straight Champions’ Cup final, in peril with a 16-13 win over the Stealth in Everett as Colin Doyle passed Gary Gait for second on the all-time scoring list.
Edmonton moved to 4-1 since the trade-deadline signing of Steve Toll, who had his most productive game with the team, scoring twice on two shots and adding an assist and four loose balls. Three other Rush players scored a pair of goals each: Tom Johnson, Zack Greer and Corey Small. Aaron Bold made 49 saves as the Rush were outshot 60-50 in the game. Kyle Rubisch scored a shorthanded goal and added an assist, 15 loose balls and two forced turnovers. Rubisch and Toll both scored on short-handed transition breaks, with Toll’s marker giving him 400 points in his career.
John Grant, Jr. totaled six points (2g, 4a) to lead the Mammoth and pull within five of the single-season scoring record. Jamie Lincoln had a five-point night, including two goals, and Derek Hopcroft and Jamie Shewchuk also had a pair each. With Colorado’s loss, Calgary can clinch first in the west and home turf throughout the playoffs by beating Edmonton tonight.
Toronto assured that they’ll have at least one home playoff game with their win. Kasey Beirnes and Josh Sanderson each scored four times for the Rock. Doyle and Stephan Leblanc added a pair each and Garrett Billings had a goal and four assists. That moved him ahead of Dan Dawson for the league lead in assists and makes him the NLL single-season record holder, at least until the Dangerous One plays tonight.
The Rock win spoiled a tremendous effort from Rhys Duch, whose four goals and six assists led the Stealth. Athan Iannucci added a hat trick and Brett Bucktooth five assists for Washington, who will be eliminated from playoff contention if Buffalo beats Rochester tonight. The 16-13 was actually fairly low-scoring until the teams combined for 13 goals in the fourth quarter.
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Calgary will be expecting a tough test when the Rush roll into town despite a seven-game winning streak in the Battle of Alberta. “We have to be completely respectful of what they bring to the table. They play us tight every game. The games are gritty, raw and physical and they’re close,” says Roughnecks transition player Geoff Snider. (calgaryherald.com)…The Clarington Green Gaels will have several changes as they head into the OLA Jr B season, but coach Jason Crosbie says that’s nothing new and he’s pleased with the way practices are going so far. ”Good high intensity, good pace. There is going to be a bunch of turnover this year,” Crosbie said. “Every year it’s tough. Every year it’s different especially with younger guys stepping up to the plate. There are some guys we lost and some spots being fought for right now. Other players are sticking their nose in and trying to take a spot.” (durhamregion.com)…The Wallaceburg Red Devils have fared well in pre-season games and are looking forward to the real thing in OLA Jr B action. “We’re excited, we can’t wait for our first game to see where we stand,” said coach Jamie Knight. They won’t have to wait long as they kick off the season tonight against St. Catharines. (wallaceburgcourierpress.com)…A pair of Jr B clubs that didn’t make the post-season last year are excited about the chance to improve their fortunes this season. The Owen Sound NorthStars won just four games last year but definitely want to improve on that this time around. “The team is looking very good defensively,” said general manager Brad Bowers. “(Goal scoring) will be by committee. I don’t want to make predictions on where we’ll finish but our first goal is to make the playoffs. From what I’ve seen, we should be right in the mix of things.” (owensoundsuntimes.com)…The Welland Warlords also won four games in 2011 but with the season about to start, optimism survives in every training camp. Wellington is looking to get back to the playoffs. (wellandtribune.com)Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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