Money Ballers: Ratcliff takes win for the week, but can’t knock JT from top spot

Lewis Ratcliff's overtime winner against the Mammoth on Friday was clutch for the Stealth. (Photo: Dan Brodie)
Lewis Ratcliff's overtime winner against the Mammoth on Friday was clutch for the Stealth. (Photo: Dan Brodie)

What a difference one week makes. In Week 3 of the National Lacrosse League season, the game-winning goal scorers were all young players except for one, the oldest player in the league. This week, they’re all over the map, from second-year players like Kiel Matisz and Dhane Smith to vets like Daryl Veltman and Lewis Ratcliff. In Week 3, we had one blowout and all the other games were fairly close. This week the final scores were also all over the map, from two one-goal games with one in OT, to three seven-goal blowouts.  In Week 3, five of the six games were won by the home team. This week that dropped to four out of seven. But one thing remained the same: we saw some pretty exciting lacrosse. Let’s examine the question on everybody’s mind: how did thing look in the Money Ballers world?

They say that the stats don’t lie. This is true, but they can mislead. Some 12-11 games are close all the way through, while others that end in the same score aren’t nearly as close as the score might indicate. This week we have a couple of situations where the numbers don’t necessarily tell you what you think they might be telling you.

That said, we’re going to start with a couple of games that were exactly what the numbers tell you. In Edmonton on Friday, the Calgary Roughnecks led for a few minutes early before Edmonton took control. They scored the next five and by the middle of the third quarter, the Rush led by 8. The Roughnecks tried to chip away at the lead, scoring four within three minutes late in the 4th, but were then shut out for the remaining 16 minutes of the game by Aaron Bold and the Edmonton defense. Jarrett Davis scored the game-winner early in the third, but you could almost call it a "non-clutch" clutch goal; the Rush were already up by 5 and they scored the next two goals. As is usually the case with dominating victories, there weren’t many Money Ballers goals in that game — the first three goals of the game, and then the game-winner.

On the other hand, the Colorado-Vancouver game the same night was rife with them, particularly in the 4th quarter. The Mammoth led for most of the game, but never by more than three and those three-goal leads never lasted longer than about 3 minutes. The Stealth tied it in the third, but the Mammoth quickly retook the lead and held it until the fourth quarter. But Vancouver then tied the game four more times, twice in the last 2 minutes of regulation. Each time the Stealth tied it up, the Mammoth immediately retook the lead — again, always within about 3 minutes. Cliff Smith tied it for the last time with less than a minute left, and a couple of minutes into overtime, Lewis Ratcliff, who had already scored a tying goal in the 4th, ended the game with a seeing-eye shot that snuck between the outside post and Dillon Ward’s right leg with one second left on the shot clock. They don’t get any more clutch than that.

For the second straight week, the Philadelphia Wings came back from a deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter only to lose by one. Last week it was John Tavares in OT, this week it was Minnesota captain Andrew Suitor who tied it and then Matisz who put the Swarm ahead late in the fourth. In their second game of the season, the Wings cut a 7-goal deficit against the Knighthawks down to a single goal, but couldn’t tie it up. That’s three comebacks for the Wings that resulted in three losses. The fact that all three of their losses were very close means nothing in the standings, but this looks like one of those situations where the 1-3 record is a bit misleading, and the team is better than their record indicates. This is also a bit of foreshadowing to Sunday’s game, but we’ll get to that.

Last year, Cody Jamieson finished 6th in the Money Ballers list and 6th in league scoring. Amazingly, he only had one game-winning goal last season and none in 2012. But Jamieson already has one here in 2014, scoring the winner late in the 3rd in a fairly dominating win over the Toronto Rock. Again, it’s hard to consider this goal "clutch" since it put the Knighthawks up by five, but until I figure out a way to give Matt Vinc some Money Baller points for preventing clutch goals, Jammer gets the points.

Vancouver’s second game of the weekend also resulted in lots of Money Baller goals (which is why the Stealth lead the league in MB points). Their game against the Calgary Roughnecks was tied at least once in every quarter and we had ten straight goals that either tied the game or put someone up by one. Veltman scored the winner midway through the fourth quarter, and the Roughnecks only allowed one goal over the last 9½ minutes of the game. The Roughnecks won by 3, but anyone who watched that game knows that it was a much closer game than the final score made it appear.

The Colorado/Buffalo game on Saturday resulted in the fewest MB goals you can have other than a 1-0 final. Buffalo took an early lead and held it for the entire game, and it resulted in a 7-goal victory for the Bandits. Once again, however, the final score doesn’t tell the full story. The Bandits took a 6-1 lead early in the second quarter, but the Mammoth clawed their way back into it with five goals in the second quarter to pull within one. Colorado went to the dressing room at halftime only down by two, so the Bandits didn’t dominate this game from start to finish as the lack of MB goals might indicate. The second half was a different story, as Buffalo outscored Colorado 8-3. Dhane Smith’s natural hat-trick was the beginning of a six-goal run for the Bandits and despite Athan Iannucci’s first two goals in a Mammoth uniform, the Mammoth were never really in it after the half.

The only Sunday game this week featured the Wings and Swarm in a rematch of Saturday’s game and almost a replay of Friday’s Edmonton/Calgary game. In both, there were three MB goals to start the game, then nothing until the game-winner in the 3rd quarter, and in both the final score was 15-8. The Roughnecks had their four-goal streak in the third quarter, but the Swarm only scored consecutive goals once — one on either side of halftime. When Tracey Kelusky scored the game-winner in the 3rd, the game wasn’t entirely out of reach for the Swarm, but the Wings outscored them 6-3 after that to put the game away.

Despite picking up zero MB points in the Stealth’s loss to Calgary, Ratcliff wins week 4 with 8.5 MB points. Ratcliff had a season-high 8.5 points in Friday’s OT win, while Dane Dobbie picked up 8 in Calgary’s two games. The strong weeks bumped both Ratcliff and Dobbie into the Top 10, but John Tavares still leads the way by two points over Adam Jones and Drew Westervelt.

Here are the Money Baller standings after week four. The number in brackets after a player’s name is their ranking in the scoring race.

  As of Week 4   First Fourth OT  
      Three Quarters Quarter    
      Tie Ahead GWG Tie Ahead GWG GWG  
# Player Team G A G A G A G A G A G A G A Pts
1 John Tavares (T25) BUF 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 13.5
2 Adam Jones (1) COL 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 11.5
  Drew Westervelt (6) COL 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 11.5
4 Lewis Ratcliff (19) VAN 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 11.0
5 John Grant Jr. (T2) COL 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 10.0
  Dane Dobbie (T13) CAL 0 1 4 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 10.0
  Rhys Duch (9) VAN 2 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 10.0
8 Cody Bremner (T39) VAN 1 0 0 1 1 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 9.5
9 Cody Jamieson (18) ROC 1 1 1 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 9.0
  Kyle Buchanan (4) PHI 1 1 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9.0
11 Dhane Smith (7) BUF 0 3 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 8.0
  Dan Dawson (T13) ROC 0 0 1 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 8.0
13 Joel McCready (T61) ROC 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.5
  Ryan Benesch (T10) BUF 1 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 7.5
15 Ryan Ward (5) PHI 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 7.0


  Weekly leader Overall leader
Week 1 Joel McCready Joel McCready
Week 2 Adam Jones Adam Jones
Week 3 John Tavares John Tavares
Week 4 Lewis Ratcliff John Tavares

Graeme Perrow started blogging about the NLL in 2005 and now wonders what he did with all his free time before that. He began writing the Money Ballers column for IL Indoor in 2012. He lives in Waterdown, Ontario with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @GraemePerrow.

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