NLL regular season wraps up with overtime thriller in Washington, plus the links

Mat Giles (left), Luke Wiles and the Bandits finished the season off with a bang, beating Washington 17-16 on John Tavares' overtime goal.
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Rochester beat Philadelphia 9-7 to snatch a home playoff game from the Wings’ hands as the National Lacrosse League season wrapped up last night. Stephen Keogh led the Knighthawks with four goals and two assists and Matt Vinc stopped 35 of 42 shots to earn the win that means the same two teams will be back in back in Rochester next Friday for the East Division semi-finals. Rochester led 6-5 after three quarters, scored the first three goals of the fourth to pull ahead by four then held on to the win, earning second place in the East.

Craig Point had two goals and a helper while Cody Jamieson added four assists for the Knighthawks. Brendan Mundorf was in on every Philadelphia tally, scoring four times and adding three assists. Kevin Crowley had four assists for the Wings. Dan Dawson scored twice and had one assist to finish the season with 78, four behind Garrett Billings in the race for the new single-season assists record.

With the Wings’ loss, Toronto clinched first place in the East, but the Rock went out and beat Edmonton 12-11 anyway. They will play host to Buffalo next Saturday in a game that will be broadcast on TSN. Billings scored five times and added three assists for Toronto. Colin Doyle had a goal and seven assists for the Rock, who pulled out to a 7-2 lead with two minutes to play in the half. Edmonton roared back with a 6-2 third quarter to tie the game at 9-9 and took the lead twice in the fourth period. Both times the Rock rebounded and they eventually won it on Stephan Leblanc goal with just under five minutes to play.

Shawn Williams led the Rush with a hat trick and two assists. Zack Greer returned to the lineup with a pair of goals and two helpers. Defender Chris Corbeil and goalie Aaron Bold each added three assists to the Edmonton cause. The fourth-place Rush head to Calgary for a West Division semi next Saturday against the top-ranked Roughnecks.

Minnesota downed Colorado 16-13 in a preview of next Saturday’s other West semi-final despite John Grant, Jr. scoring six points (2 goals, 4 assists) to break John Tavares‘ single-season scoring record. The Swarm never trailed the game in which they got hat tricks from Ryan Benesch and Joel Henry. Benesch also added four assists. Jordan MacIntosh and Callum Crawford each contributed two goals and four assists. MacIntosh also scooped 13 loose balls to set a new Swarm record for loosies in a season.

Mat MacLeod and Jamie Lincoln each scored twice for Colorado with Lincoln adding two assists. Seven players scored single goals for the Mammoth. Among them, Ilija Gajic, Derek Hopcroft, Adam Jones and Sean Pollock added two assists each.

The last game of the night had no import for the standings but turned out to be a thriller. Buffalo jumped out to a 4-0 lead but Washington chipped away to tie it 8-8 early in the second half. The Bandits built another four-goal lead, forging ahead 14-10 at the end of the third quarter and led 16-12 part-way through the fourth. The Stealth scored the last four goals of regulation time to send it to overtime.

It took 9:55 of extra play before John Tavares wrapped up the season with the winning goal. That put the Bandits into a three-way tie for second in the East with Philadelphia and Rochester but didn’t affect the final order because the tie-breakers left them fourth, but gave them wins in three of their last four games and some momentum heading into the playoffs.

Tavares, Mark Steenhuis and Roger Vyse all had hat tricks for Buffalo. Steenhuis added four assists and Tavares a pair. Lewis Ratcliff had a monster game for Washington, scoring seven times and adding four helpers. Rhys Duch (4g, 4a) and Athan Iannucci (2g, 6a) each had eight-point nights for the Stealth, who finish the season 4-12. Bob Snider won 30 of 37 faceoffs to set the record for faceoff wins in a season, totalling 319 to edge one past the old record held by his brother Geoff and Peter Jacobs.

Rochester 9 – Philadelphia 7
NLL.com story
Game sheet

Toronto 12 – Edmonton 11
NLL.com story
Game sheet

Minnesota 16 – Colorado 13
NLL.com story
Game sheet

Buffalo 17 – Washington 16
NLL.com story
Game sheet

plus the links

Calgary had the final weekend off but they’re primed for the playoffs after finishing with the league’s best record at 12-4, including two overtime losses. Part of the reason for their success, says captain Andrew McBride, is how close the players on the roster are. “Guys care about other guys’ lives. They know the girlfriends, the wives, the kids’ names. They know if they’ve had a bad week. That’s pretty special. Some teams don’t have that — they come in, talk about lacrosse, play lacrosse, then go their separate ways. But we’re a very tight cohesive group. We’d go through a wall for each other.” They make good use of social media to maintain links between the players spread across Canada. (calgaryherald.com)…With all the records being broken this season, it’s easy to lose track of some of them. The NLL compiled them all into a story as a reminder of what’s gone down throughout the year. (nll.com)…The defending Founders Cup champion Six Nations Rebels weren’t happy about losing their first game of the new season and they took it out on Welland in their second game, dumping the Warlords 18-7 in OLA Jr B action. “We just wanted to go out there and go hard. We had to redeem ourselves after Sunday. The monkey is off our back and we had nothing to lose,” said the Rebels’ Ian Martin. (brantfordexpositor.ca)…The Nanaimo Jr A Timbermen are clear ab0ut what they want in 2012.  “The goal this year for the owner, management, coaching staff and players is to win,” said new coach Dale Nicks. “We expect to win the league, we expect to win the B.C.s and obviously we expect to win the Minto Cup.”  (nanaimobulletin.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 stamplax@hotmail.com.

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