To paraphrase the inimitable Casey Stengel, good defence will always beat good offence and vice versa. Last night, National Lacrosse League fans had a chance to witness a battle between the contrasting styles of the stingy Rochester Knighthawks, who gave up the fewest goals in the regular season, and the go-go Minnesota Swarm, who ran their way to the second-most goals in the league. In this case, the defence ruled the day as the Knighthawks slowed down the high-flying Swarm attack in a 12-10 win behind 4 goals from Craig Point while allowing Minnesota only 35 shots, 25 of which Goalie of the Year Matt Vinc turned aside. The Knighthawks will now head to Langley, BC (yes, you read that correctly) to face Washington in the Champions Cup after the Stealth edged the Calgary Roughnecks 14-13 in the West Division final despite 7 goals (yes, you read that correctly, too) from Curtis Dickson.
Rochester, who also got a hat trick from Johnny Powless and a 5-point night (1g, 4a) from Cody Jamieson, took a 3-0 lead but the Swarm battled back and led 9-7 after Shayne Jackson’s power play goal just over six minutes into the fourth quarter. That’s when the Knighthawks kicked into overdrive at the offensive end of the floor. They scored 5 straight goals, including what would prove to be the game winner by Point followed a goal by Jamieson, who had been a game-time decision to play after suffering a leg injury last week.
The Knighthawks will now defend last year’s title on the road against the Stealth, who scored the final goal of the game at 8:06 of the fourth quarter then made their one-goal lead stand up to reach their third Champions Cup final in four years. Athan Iannucci, a healthy scratch for a pair of games late in the regular season, showed his game is back by matching Rhys Duch’s 3-goal, 4-assist performance to lead the Stealth’s scoring parade.
Dickson had those 7 goals and added an assist for the Roughnecks, who once again were unable to translate a regular-season division crown into a trip to the league final. Dane Dobbie scored 3 goals and added a pair of assists for Calgary.
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