The West has been settled, and not in the sense of the pioneers wending their way cross-continent. Calgary’s 9-6 Battle of Alberta sweep of Edmonton, Minnesota’s 15-10 win over Philadelphia and Buffalo’s 14-9 win against Rochester mean the final standings in the National Lacrosse League’s West Division are set in stone and the semi-final matchups are established. The Roughnecks, who clinched the regular-season division title, and Rush will meet yet again in one semi in Calgary. Colorado finishes second and will host the Swarm in the other semi, after the two teams wrap of their regular seasons next weekend in Minnesota.
The final standings are still up in the air for the East Division but the playoff teams are set as Buffalo clinched the final post-season berth. Washington, after back-to-back trips to the Champion’s Cup, will be watching the playoffs from the sidelines this year.
Frankie Scigliano stood tall in the Calgary net, stopping 38 of 44 shots to earn the win. Shawn Evans led the way for the Riggers. He had four goals, two assists, six loose balls and two forced turnovers in a well-balanced effort. Nolan Heavenor and Jeff Shattler each had a pair of goals for Calgary.
Edmonton, as they have done so often, stayed close for three quarters. They trailed just 5-4 after 45 minutes but were outscored 4-2 in the final frame. Six different Rush players tallied single goals and Corey Small had three assists. Aaron Bold was strong in net again for Edmonton, making 44 saves on 53 shots.
A major difference in the game was the power play. Calgary scored five times on seven man advantages. Edmonton had eight power plays but only managed two goals. The teams almost played a scoreless first quarter. Calgary had Scigliano pulled for an extra attacker at the end of the frame. Kyle Rubisch picked off a pass right in front of his net and quickly fired the ball the length of the floor into the empty net with less than one second to play.
Minnesota blew open a close game with a 5-0 third quarter against the Wings. Kevin Ross had a huge night for the Swarm with five goals, four assists and seven loose balls. Ryan Benesch scored four goals and two helpers while Callum Crawford scored once and added eight assists. Evan Kirk won his fourth game of the year and kept his goals against average below 10 on the season by turning away 41 of the 51 shots he faced.
Dan Dawson scored five goals, including one each on the power play and short-handed, for Philly. He also added one assist to pull even with Garrett Billings for the league lead and the single-season assists record. Five other Wings scored single goals, including Drew Westervelt who also had four assists. Jeff Reynolds won 23 of 29 faceoffs and was credited with 24 loose balls.
Anthony Cosmo made 46 saves and Mark Steenhuis posted an eight-point night (4g, 4a) to lead Buffalo to the playoffs with their win over the Knighthawks. Luke Wiles scored a hat trick for the Bandits and Mat Giles chipped in with two goals and four assists. Buffalo led 7-2 when they opened the scoring in the third quarter, but Rochester chipped away at the lead with three straight goals. Buffalo then reeled off seven in a row to put the game away.
Cory Vitarelli was the top marksman for Rochester with three goals, including a short-handed marker. Jarrett Davis contributed two goals and an assist and Cody Jamieson had one goal and three helpers. Jake Henhawk shut the Bandits out for the final 11:35 after replacing Matt Vinc and the Knighthawks managed the last four goals of the game, but it was too little, too late.
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