Friday night’s game between the Niagara Lock Monsters and Toronto Shooting Stars was everything you’d expect in a battle for first place in the Canadian Lacrosse League. There were huge swings in momentum, physical but disciplined play and some spectacular transition goals that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. In the end, the Lock Monsters took advantage of a shortened and weary Toronto roster to pull out an 18-15 win that was in doubt until a pair of empty net goals in the final minute. Andrew Potter’s 6 goals and 4 assists moved him into a tie for the league scoring lead with teammate Corey Fowler and led Niagara (9-2), who extended their lead atop CLax to two games over Toronto with the win on the latter’s Mattamy Athletic Centre home floor.
The Lock Monsters had to overcome the first shaky outing of rookie goalie Connor Danko’s career after six straight wins. As Jason Mazachowski pointed out, though, the team didn’t give him a whole lot of support.
“I think we kind of left Danko out there to dry there for a bit. They were getting a lot of fast break goals. We don’t usually give those up and they took advantage of that,” said Mazachowski, who had a hat trick and an assist. “We knew we had to change something up. We weren’t running like we usually do. I thought we were really slow for the first three quarters and then that fourth quarter we picked it up and started using our feet and moving the ball fast and that led to the win.”
Niagara still led 9-8 at halftime, thanks largely to 4 power play goals in 4 chances—a pair each from Potter and Kimbo Squire. Mack O’Brien scored two of his 4 goals in the third quarter as Toronto (7-4) outscored Niagara 4-1 to take the lead heading into the final 15 minutes.
Fatigue, both physical and emotional, appeared to become a factor for the Shooting Stars in the fourth quarter, in which Niagara outscored the home side 8-3. Being drained after Thursday night’s brawl-filled loss to the Brampton Inferno and missing five players from their lineup did “play a factor, but we knew that coming into the game,” said Dilan Graham, who was one of Toronto’s top two-way players and scored a goal and 3 assists and said they weren’t going to use fatigue as an excuse. Toronto was only able to dress 15 runners instead of the usual 16.
“We went in with the mindset that we knew what we were going in with, we’ve got to deal with it,” Graham added. “To be honest, I look forward to playing them again. I want redemption right away. I’d like to play them again tomorrow. Our team’s coming together. We’ve had a rough weekend, to say the least, but I think we’re going to take a away a lot of lessons from this last couple of games and learn from our mistakes.”
Gary Muzzin stepped in to play goal with Angus Dineley haven’t been signed by the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League, although the latter wouldn’t have been available anyway since he earned a one-game suspension for his actions in the Brampton game Thursday. Josh Ruys, Bubba Durno and Brian Croswell were also out with suspensions and Aaron Grayson had to miss the game because of work commitments.
Brad Levick led Toronto with 7 points (2g, 5a) and Mike Gillan had 5 (2g, 3a).
The Ohsweken Demons moved into a virtual tie with Toronto for second place last night, downing the Durham Turfdogs 12-10 at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. Delby Powless, Wayne VanEvery and Holden Vyse each scored 2 goals to lead the Demons (7-5) to the win. Nic Grasby was Durham’s only multiple goal scorer, potting a pair to go with 3 assists as Durham (5-5), fell into a tie for fourth with Brampton, whom they face at home today in a 2 pm start.
Today’s other game sees a battle for the sixth and final playoff spot when the Barrie Blizzard travel to the ILA to take on the Iroquois Ironmen in a 1 pm start.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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