NLL Champion’s Cup Edition Team Reports: ‘The next mistake you make could cost you a championship’ – Stealth coach Chris Hall

The last time Washington and Rochester played was Feb. 2 in Rochester, and NASCAR star Tony Stewart got it started with the ceremonial faceoff. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)
The last time Washington and Rochester played was Feb. 2 in Rochester, and NASCAR star Tony Stewart got it started with the ceremonial faceoff. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)

If it seems like just 5 months ago we were writing about the Washington Stealth and Rochester Knighthawks getting ready to open the National Lacrosse League season, it’s because we were. And if it seems like we’re writing about the Stealth and Knighthawks getting ready to close the NLL season, it’s because we are. The teams that got it all started for 2013 will close the curtain on the season and one will rejoice in the glory of being crowned champ. The other will wonder what went wrong. It’s the 2013 edition of the NLL’s Champion’s Cup game and our final team report of the season will get you ready for the final game of the season.

Rochester Knighthawks at Washington Stealth
Saturday, May 11 - Langley Events Centre - 7 p.m. (EST)

Broadcast: CBS Sports Network.
Last week: Rochester defeated Minnesota, 12-10; Washington defeated Calgary, 15-14.
History: Rochester leads all-time series, 12-5 (6-3 in Washington).
This season: Teams split season series, 1-1, with each team winning at home. Washington 13-12 on Jan. 5 and Rochester 7-6 on Feb. 2.
Goals for: Rochester 22 (4th); Washington 26 (3rd).
Goals against: Rochester 18 (1st); Washington 24 (tied for 3rd).
Scoring leaders: Rochester — Dan Dawson (5-4, 9), Cody Jamieson (2-6, 8), Johnny Powless (3-4, 7); Washington — Rhys Duch (7-6, 13), Athan Iannucci (5-5, 10), Brett Bucktooth (3-6, 9).

Knighthawks notes

This is Rochester’s 8th appearance in the NLL title game and the Knighthawks are 3-4 in those games … Minnesota’s surge in the second half gave it a 9-7 lead, but the Knighthawks stayed the course, much to the delight of coach Mike Hasen. “I thought we responded well,” he said of his team’s 5-0 run. “We knew our opportunity would come. It did and we were able to sneak it out.” … F Cody Jamieson played on a touchy ankle after the Knighthawks were convinced earlier in the week that they’d be without him. “He was a very big example for us,” said Hasen. “He really took care of himself and he did all the right things. It was a bit of a pick-me-up and the guys fed off of it.” … F Mike Accursi is confident the Knighthawks have the offense to run with Washington. “Craig Point had a great game and Pup (Johnny Powless) did well too,” said Accursi. “We have a balanced offense and that’s been our success. We look for everybody to contribute.” … F Dan Dawson and D Scott Self are gunning for their first NLL titles. Dawson is in his 12th season and Self is in his 13th. “Those are 2 great team guys,” said Accursi. “They’ve put a lot of time and effort into this league and we wanna have them feel the success we’ve felt. It’d be great to pass them the Cup.” … Accursi has won 3 titles and is 3-1 in the 4 title games he’s played … Hasen said the Knighthawks are thinking more about the Stealth than they are repeating as champs. “We’re preparing like it’s any other game,” he said. “Washington, that’s all we’re focused on right now.” … Any predictions on the style of this game? Shootout like the season-opener or defensive battle like the game in Rochester? “It helps the stress level to have a bit of a gap but gaps in this league can disappear quickly,” said Hasen. “We just have to manage it.” … The Knighthawks have not allowed a goal in the first quarter in each of their first 2 playoff games … G Matt Vinc made a season-high 51 saves in the season-opening loss to Washington.

Stealth notes

This is Washington’s 3rd appearance in the NLL title game and the Stealth are 1-1 in those games … Stealth coach Chris Hall isn’t about to predict what sort of game might unfold on Saturday, whether it’s filled with offense or defense. “You can’t predict that stuff,” he said. “You just manage the game as it unfolds … if it’s a high-scoring game, the next mistake you make could cost you a championship.” … F Rhys Duch understands that management is key. “You have to say level-headed,” he said. “I can’t imagine it’ll be a lopsided game so it’ll be who can keep their composure and who can get through the ups and downs.” … Hall pointed out it’s been more than 3 months since the Stealth have played the Knighthawks and a lot has changed since then. “Both teams are peaking right now,” he said. “Matt Vinc is having a fantastic year in goal and Tyler Richards has been doing the same for us. All signs point to a great game.” … F Athan Iannucci is aiming for his first NLL title in his 6 seasons and F Dean Hill is going for his first in his 8th NLL season … The Stealth have scored just 2 goals in the first quarter of their first 2 playoff games … The Stealth is providing a fan bus to the game from Everett. Seating is limited and costs $25 for the round-trip, which departs Everett at 10 a.m. local time. Call (877) 697.5849. You must have a purchased ticket to the game and a valid U.S. passport to get a seat on the bus.

Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at bob.chavez@nllinsider.com or go to RochesterSports.com.

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