It was the first Champions Cup win for two stellar veterans and the second straight MVP performance for one young Knighthawk who has already established himself as one of the best in the business. Dan Dawson and Scott Self finally got to taste a National Lacrosse League championship and Cody Jamieson scored a hat trick and a pair of assists as the Rochester Knighthawks held on for an 11-10 win in a thrilling title game at the Langley Events Centre before a sold-out crowd of over 5,200.
It was deja vu all over again for the Stealth, who saw Tyler Richards bar the door in the second half, allowing only one goal after the intermission. Just like in 2011 against the Toronto Rock, that was one goal too many as the Stealth couldn’t quite get the equalizer despite several chances late in the game, all of which were turned aside by Matt Vinc in the Rochester net.
Cory Vitarelli scored a pair of goals for the Knighhawks and both Dawson and Joe Walters had 5-point nights (1g, 4a each). Walters posted what proved to be the winning goal at 2:24 of the fourth quarter. Walters made a great stutter step drive underneath Chris O’Dougherty and fought off the check as he dove across the crease and bounced the ball in off the far post, just past Richards. The goal was a microcosm of what it took to score all night: an outstanding play with a perfect finish.
Rookie defender Tyler Garrison pulled the Stealth back within a goal less than a minute later, scoring his second of the night when he stripped Jamieson up high, broke in on Vinc and found a tiny hole just inside the near post. Neither team could quite find that perfect spot again and both goalies stood tall to make the 11-10 score hold up for the last 12 minutes of the game.
Rhys Duch had a hat trick and an assist for Washington and Cliff Smith scored twice and added a helper, while Brett Bucktooth posted a goal and 4 assists.
Rochester led 5-2 after the first quarter and the teams combined for almost half of the game’s total goals in the second, each posting 5 goals to head into the half with the Knighthawks up 10-7. Washington scored the only 2 goals of the third quarter, then Walters and Garrison exchaned the only markers of the fourth.
Each team had 49 shots on net. Washington went 2-for-4 on the power play while the Knighthawks were unable to connect on their only man advantage.
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