Both of Saturday night’s National Lacrosse League West Division semi-finals were decided largely from the results of 5-minute major penalties in the third quarter. Washington took advantage of Jeff Cornwall’s second major of the game—a checking from behind call at 14:12 of the third to score a pair of fourth-quarter power play goals that gave them just enough to hold on and grab a stunning 12-11 come-from-behind win over the Edmonton Rush. In Calgary, the Roughnecks turned that tale on its head. They opened the second half with a pair of shorthanded goals while Curtis Dickson watched with relief from the penalty box. They pulled away from a 7-7 halftime tie and never looked back in a 15-10 win that means they’ll host the Stealth in next weekend’s West final. Rochester downed Philadelphia 10-8 in Saturday’s East Division final.
The first half of the Calgary-Colorado game was a see-saw affair in which the only 2-goal lead lasted less than two minutes and there were six ties. Then Dickson took his major for high-sticking Rory Smith at 3:52 of the third quarter and it looked like the Mammoth had an opportunity to get the jump on the Roughnecks. But Calgary foiled that plan, controlling long stretches of play and getting goals from Scott Ranger and Jeff Shattler to grab all the momentum en route to a 4-0 third quarter and 8-3 second half.
Ranger, Shattler and Shawn Evans all had hat tricks for Calgary, which benefitted from some big saves by Mike Poulin while killing Dickson’s major. They almost added a real rarity later in the game: Jon Harnett looked to have scored a power-play empty-net goal when he chased down a loose ball and flipped it underhand into the net when Colorado had pulled Tye Belanger for an extra attacker. The goal, though, was correctly overturned when replays showed that Harnett’s heel touch down in the crease just as the ball was about to cross the goal line.
Daryl Veltman added a goal and 5 assists for Calgary. Dane Dobbie, who had been questionable to play with a knee injury, was able to go and contributed 4 assists.
Adam Jones scored 4 goals and added a helper for the Mammoth. Casey Powell had a hat trick and 3 assists and John Grant, Jr. (2g, 3a) and Jordan McBride (5a) each had 5-point nights.
In Washington, the Rush roared out to a 7-2 lead and looked to be well on the way to returning to the West Division final. But then the second half happened. The Stealth won the third quarter 7-3 to pull almost all the way back. Their final goal of the quarter came from Mike Grimes while the teams were playing 4-on-4 after Cornwall’s major and a roughing minor to Matt Beers. They got another from a defender with Jeff Moleski connecting just 22 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Once Beers was out of the box, the Stealth really took advantage. Lewis Ratcliff and Brett Bucktooth power player goals scored 39 seconds apart to put Washington ahead 12-10. Edmonton pushed to equalize but Tyler Richards allowed only 1 goal on 16 Rush shots in the fourth to make the lead stand up and book Washington’s ticket to Calgary for next week’s division championship game.
Dan Dawson was The Man in Rochester. He scored 4 goals and 2 assists to lead the Knighthawks back to the East Division final. They will meet the winner of this afternoon’s 3 pm game between the Toronto Rock and the Minnesota Swarm at the Air Canada Centre.
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