The second half of the 2013 National Lacrosse League season has begun and the Team 22 Money Ballers race has gotten pretty interesting. We now have a three-way tie for first place, and the three players involved have gotten to the top in three different ways. I’ll get to those details later on, but to start with, let’s get to the games from this past weekend. All nine teams played, the Bandits played twice, and for the first time since February 2008, the NLL had games on four consecutive days.
The last Thursday night game in the NLL was in January 2009, when the Bandits beat the Rush 13-8. This past Thursday, the Bandits travelled up the QEW to Toronto, where they are 9-6 all-time. The top two teams in the East traded goals in the first half with nobody really taking control. Early in the third, the Rock scored five goals in about seven minutes and it looked as if they had decided to run away with it. The Bandits had other ideas though. Early in the fourth, Buffalo had their own five goal run in eight minutes, as Shawn Williams‘ third of four on the night put the Bandits back on top. After Colin Doyle stopped the Bandits run, Scott Self’s transition goal proved to be the game-winner as Buffalo continued their dominance of the Rock at the ACC. Three of Williams’ four goals put the Bandits ahead by one, and he also assisted on a game-tying goal, giving him 6.5 MB points to lead the game.
On Friday the Bandits headed back home to host their old rivals, the Philadelphia Wings. Williams continued his hot weekend, scoring two minutes into the game with what would be the only 5-on-5 goal of the first half. The Wings had one power play and one shorthanded marker, while the Bandits had one shorthanded and four power play goals. Williams’ second goal 30 seconds into the third quarter was Buffalo’s fourth straight man-up goal, and it put the Bandits up by 5. The penalties slowed down in the second half but the Wings didn’t, continually chipping away to get back within one with five minutes left in the fourth to set up a thrilling finish. Jordan Hall bounced one past Anthony Cosmo with four seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send it to OT.
It’s not really all that rare, but it still sounds so counterintuitive when you say it — the Wings won the game despite not holding a lead at any point in the game. The Bandits led from 2:01 of the first to 14:56 of the fourth, but it was not enough as Drew Westervelt completed his hat-trick by sneaking one under Cosmo in overtime. Westervelt picks up 5 MB points for that goal to lead the game.
You could call it the Battle of the Basement as the two last-place teams faced off in Denver on Saturday night. Like the games in Toronto and Buffalo, nobody ran away with this game either, as the teams traded leads throughout the first three quarters. Cory Vitarelli scored two goals on the night, one with one second left in the first and one with 2 seconds left in the third. That second goal put the Knighthawks up by 3, the biggest lead of the game, and one they would only hold for about 2½ minutes as the Mammoth scored the next three to tie it up again.
But only a couple of minutes later, Cody Jamieson scored his fourth of the game, leading all scorers, to put the Knighthawks up by one yet again. That proved not only to be the game-winner, but the final goal scored in the game. Jammer and John Grant led the game with 4.5 MB points each
The season is barely half over, but we’ve already seen three “Battles of Alberta”. Perhaps “Massacre of Alberta” would have been more appropriate, since Calgary was 22-4 against Edmonton in the regular season going into Saturday’s game. But not this weekend as the Rush pulled off a convincing 18-13 win over the Roughnecks in Calgary. Edmonton had runs of 4 and 5 goals and held 8-goal leads on three different occasions. Just for a change of pace, it was veteran Ryan Ward instead of Mark Matthews who put up the numbers in this one.
Ward had two goals and eight assists, and it was the first time in franchise history that a player has hit the double-digit mark in a regular season game. Matthews does get some glory, though – he scored the game-winner in the third and led the game with 2 MB points. Calgary’s Daryl Veltman had a goal and seven assists, but Shawn Evans‘ game-tying goal in the first was the only Roughnecks goal to qualify for MB points.
In the lone Sunday game, Minnesota traveled to Everett to take on the Stealth, and the Swarm got out to an early lead on Kiel Matisz’ only goal of the game. This was also the only lead the Swarm had in the game, and they kept it for less than two minutes before Jeff Moleski tied it and Lewis Ratcliff put the Stealth ahead. Athan Iannucci opened the second with a natural hat trick in less than 2½ minutes, and Brett Bucktooth’s first of three later in the second put the Stealth up by 5.
The closest the Swarm could manage after that was to get back within two, though not for lack of trying. Tyler Richards stopped 43 of 51 shots for an amazing 84.3% save percentage. Nooch led the game with 2.5 MB points, and Matisz’ game-opener got him 1.5 to lead the Swarm.
Shawn Williams led his team in both of their games this weekend, and is the winner of week 9. It also propelled him into a three-way tie for first place overall alongside Curtis Dickson (who picked up 0 MB points in Calgary’s loss) and Garrett Billings. But the way that each of these three players has acquired their MB points is different and is a bit of a study into their different playing styles. Dickson has three game-winning goals in fourth quarters and one earlier — that’s 14 of his 24 points right there. Billings has one game-winner but three assists on other game-winners, and has scored 7 and assisted on 9 qualifying goals, mostly in the first three quarters.
Williams has no game-winners and only one assist on one so he’s rarely involved in the actual winning goal. But Willy has scored 8 and assisted on 13 other qualifying goals in every quarter. In a nutshell, Dickson gets it done in the fourth, Billings gets it done earlier, and Williams gets it done by making sure his team is in a position to get that game-winner. But they all get it done regardless, they have all helped their teams be successful, and all three are deserving of the description “clutch player.”
Here are the Money Baller standings after nine weeks. The number in brackets after a player’s name is their ranking in the scoring race.
|As of Week 9||First||Fourth||OT|
|1||Curtis Dickson (T21)||CAL||0||2||0||2||1||0||1||0||2||0||3||0||0||0||24.0|
|Garrett Billings (2)||TOR||3||6||3||3||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||3||0||0||24.0|
|Shawn Williams (T11)||BUF||0||5||6||5||0||0||1||2||1||1||0||1||0||0||24.0|
|4||Drew Westervelt (T34)||PHI||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||2||1||1||0||20.0|
|Colin Doyle (T5)||TOR||1||6||1||7||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||2||0||0||20.0|
|6||Johnny Powless (T48)||ROC||4||1||4||2||0||0||2||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||19.5|
|7||Kasey Beirnes (T29)||TOR||1||3||2||2||0||1||1||0||1||0||1||1||0||0||18.0|
|Kiel Matisz (T27)||MIN||3||3||5||2||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||18.0|
|9||Rhys Duch (3)||WAS||3||2||3||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||2||0||0||17.5|
|10||Sean Pollock (43)||COL||1||1||4||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||15.5|
|Cody Jamieson (10)||ROC||3||2||2||5||0||0||0||2||0||0||1||0||0||0||15.5|
|12||Stephan Leblanc (T23)||TOR||4||3||2||1||0||0||0||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||15.0|
|Lewis Ratcliff (T16)||WAS||2||1||4||2||1||1||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||15.0|
|14||Dhane Smith (41)||BUF||2||2||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||14.0|
|15||Ryan Benesch (T5)||MIN||1||5||2||2||0||0||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||13.5|
|Shawn Evans (1)||CAL||5||1||2||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||13.5|
|Weekly leader||Overall leader|
|Week 1||Cliff Smith||Cliff Smith|
|Week 2||Kasey Beirnes||Kasey Beirnes|
|Week 3||Stephen Keogh
|Week 4||Garrett Billings||Garrett Billings|
|Week 5||Dane Dobbie||Garrett Billings|
|Week 6||Curtis Dickson||Kasey Beirnes|
|Week 7||Curtis Dickson||Curtis Dickson|
|Week 8||Brodie Merrill||Curtis Dickson|
|Week 9||Shawn Williams||Garrett Billings
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