Midnight came early in Rochester. Cinderella (a.k.a. the Edmonton Rush) was having a glorious time at the ball (Champions Cup) when the carriage suddenly and shockingly turned back into a pumpkin. The Rush’s fairy tale ride to a National Lacrosse League championship was proceeding enchantedly. They rode their stifling defence and goalie Aaron Bold to a 5-1 lead half-way through the final and were just 30 minutes away from hauling the trophy back to the City of Champions for the first time. But the second half was a whole new story.
The Rochester Knighthawks scored six unanswered goals on 12 shots in the third quarter to propel themselves to the team’s third NLL title. Cody Jamieson earned MVP honours for his four-goal, four-assist night. Matt Vinc could just as easily have been named most valuable, stopping 46 of the 52 shots Edmonton directed his way. The keys for Rochester were patience as they worked to find openings in the Rush’s D and taking advantage of the opportunities they were able to create.
Jamieson scored on a pair of spectacular drives to the net ending in crease dives that displayed his athleticism and scorer’s touch. Johnny Powless, set to graduate from high school next month, added a pair of goals and an assist, as did Mike Accursi, who teaches high school. Zack Greer led with two goals and two assists for the Rush, who could manage just a single tally in the second half, coming with six minutes to play.
For all the justified acclaim the Edmonton defence has earned this year, Rochester’s back end was up to the challenge of matching it last night. Following the template that worked so well against Toronto in the division final, the Knighthawks pressed Edmonton to the outside and did an outstanding job of switching and sliding when the Rush tried to work into the interior of the Rochester zone. When the Western champs did manage to create good scoring chances, Vinc was there to close the door.
Two of Edmonton’s six goals came on transition breakaways by Chris Corbeil and Jarrett Toll. That means the Rush were only able to generate four markers from the set offence, much more in line with their league-low scoring pace from the regular season than the 17 goals per game they had averaged in their first two playoff games.
Jamieson, meanwhile, proved–if there was any doubt remaining–that he has entered the realm of the game’s elite as he completes his second year of pro lacrosse. And the Knighthawks proved that they may be down but they’re never out. “We never quite all year,” captain Pat McCready told NLL.com. “Quit’s not in our vocabulary. Vinc stood on his head in the second half, we buckled down on D and the O came alive.” The never-say-die approach worked. The Knighthawks are champions.
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Hugh Weir’s been having a lot of success in lacrosse in the past year. The righty from Saskatoon went to the Minto Cup finals last year as a member of the Coquitlam Adanacs and reached the NCAA tournament with his Canisius College teammates this month. Now he’s heading back out west and hoping he can end the string of coming close but no cigar by winning the Minto with the Adanacs. He’ll play his first indoor game of the season today. (Star Phoenix)…It’s down to four days until the four Gajic brothers all play together on one team for the first time in their lives. Milan has joined the New Westminster Salmonbellies for the summer after a decade-long pro hockey career and at Thursday’s home opener he’s expected to join Nenad, Ilija and Alex on the Queen’s Park Arena floor. (Burnaby Now)…The Nanaimo Timbermen open their WLA season tonight against the defending league champion Langley Thunder. Nanaimo missed the playoffs on tiebreakers each of the last two seasons, so they understand that every game is important. To help produce offence in the absence of Lewis Ratcliff, who was suspended from the team with two games left in the season in 2011 then traded to Langley before this season, the Timbermen will be looking to the likes of Cody Bremner and some of his fellow draft picks to step successfully into the lineup. (Nanaimo Daily News)…The Norwood James Gang and Owen Sound NorthStars tied 9-9 in Norwood Friday night in OLA Senior B action. The NorthStars took a two-goal lead in overtime but weren’t able to hold on for the win. (Owen Sound Sun Times)…St. Catharines downed Oakville 21-12 in a Sr B match they dedicated to Andrew Potter’s stepfather, who died during the week preceding the game. “We are a family here,” said Saints’ Head Coach Chuck Brown. “When one of the guys has a hardship, we all feel it, so it was up to the rest of us to pick up our game for our teammate.” (St. Catharines Standard)…The London Blue Devils were also dealing with an emotional situation when they returned to the floor after the death of the father of Eric Guiltanan. The Blue Devils played with a single-minded focus and broke the 20-goal mark for the first time in the Junior B team’s history in a 24-4 win over Welland. “Eric’s got a smile on his face and that’s real important,” coach Jeff Williamson said, holding his head down to hide the tears welling in his eyes. “It touches everyone still.” The Blue Devils cancelled their road game against the Windsor Clippers on May 13 so the whole team could be with their teammate. “We postponed our game and just came around as brothers and just wanted to support him,” said Dan Forbes, who led the barrage with four goals and three assists. (London Community News)…Lacrosse is a family affair for the Josephs, who have had three generations involved in the Kingston Kings from their inception and initial iteration from 1973-1997 through their return in 2010 and growth from intermediate to Junior C. (Kingston This Week)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 email@example.com.
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