It was a night for resiliency in the National Lacrosse League. Even the Rochester Knighthawks, who ultimately fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a loss to Buffalo, showed it in spades by scoring the last 5 goals of the game to turn what was looking like an easy Bandits win into an 11-10 nailbiter. The Colorado Mammoth avoided what would have been yet another crushing defeat when John Grant Jr. scored an astonishing overtime goal to win 14-13. And the Edmonton Rush overcame a 7-2 halftime deficit with a dominating second half to stay perfect with a 9-8 win over the Vancouver Stealth. What a night!
John Tavares scored 4 goals and Joe Resetarits had a hat trick, including what would surprisingly prove to be the game winner, as Buffalo controlled the first 56 minutes of their game against Rochester then had to hang on for dear life to get the win. Anthony Cosmo was spectacular in the Bandits net, particularly in the first half when he turned aside several quality chances from the Knighthawks, while Buffalo became the first team to really solve Matt Vinc this season, eventually chasing him after the third quarter.
Angus Goodleaf came on in net and helped change the momentum with solid play. Unfortunately for him, the only goal he gave up—a perfect pass from Shawn Williams that Resetarits converted into a gorgeous quick-stick goal just inside the post—made him officially the losing goalie.
Buffalo led 1-0, 6-2 and 10-3 at the quarter breaks and looked like they would cruise to the victory. The problem may have been that they did set things on cruise control, pulling back to manage the clock rather than continuing to push. The Knighthawks seized their chance to claw back into the game.
Stephen Keogh got a wild final four minutes started with a power play goal on a simple outside shot that skipped past Cosmo. Goodleaf got the first of 4 straight extra attacker Rochester goals rolling when he outletted to Brad Self then sprinted to the bench. Self would pass the ball to Joel McCready, who scored his first of 2 in a row and 3 on the night. Cody Jamieson, who also had a hat trick, then earned 3 straight assists on goals by McCready, Johnny Powless and Joe Walters, the last with just 19 seconds remaining, to pull the Knighhawks within a goal.
The way the Knighthawks were scoring, it appeared crucial for the Bandits to control the ensuing faceoff and Jay Thorimbert did just that. It still wasn’t quite over, as a trio of Knighthawks fought to regain possession of the ball. Thorimbert did a masterful job of battling for control and position, though, and earned a loose ball foul after the ball had been knocked loose. That allowed him to run out the final few seconds and allowed the stunned crowd in Buffalo to release the collective breath they had been holding for the last few minutes.
In Calgary, Grant knocked the breath out of the home fans like a shot to the solar plexis with his remarkable overtime winner. Take a minute to follow that link and watch the goal then come back. Go ahead, we’ll wait for you; you want to see this goal.
Okay, let’s continue. The Calgary-Colorado game was a back and forth affair with neither team able to pull away and create some breathing room. It looked like Colorado’s impotence on the power play may cost them a win—they went just 1 for 8 with the man advantage. But the Mammoth showed they don’t have any quit in them despite entering the game at 1-5 on the season. Thanks to Adam Jones, who was a one-man gang with 7 goals on 10 shots, they kept responding seemingly every time Calgary scored.
Colorado held quarter leads of 3-2 and 8-7, then things were tied up at 11-11 after 45 minutes of play. Then Jones and Dan Ball, on a beauty of a twister transition goal, put the Mammoth up 13-11 just over five minutes into the fourth. Then it was Calgary’s turn to show some resilience. They evened it back up with 2 goals in the next 1:47. Neither goalie—Dillon Ward for Colorado and Mike Poulin for Calgary—could be beaten the rest of the way in regulation.
Colorado controlled the ball almost throughout the 2:09 of overtime that would be played. Then Grant made one of those plays that it seems like only he can make. He accepted a pass from Sean Pollock one-handed (admittedly, as the replay would show and the Roughnecks would be livid about, while holding off Geoff Snider’s stick check with the other hand) and scored the sensational blind over-the-shoulder winner that you watched earlier. And seriously, if you haven’t watched it yet, do so. You’ll thank me.
The thrills for the night weren’t over yet, though. By the time Colorado had pulled out that win, Vancouver fans had seen their team pull out to a 7-2 halftime lead, chasing Edmonton starting goalie Aaron Bold in the process. Brodie MacDonald was great in relief, allowing just 4 goals on 27 shots and helping turn the momentum of the game 180 degrees. Edmonton outshot the Stealth a tidy 32-16 in the second half en route to 7 straight goals.
Tyler Richards was doing all he could in the Vancouver net—he turned aside 49 of the 58 shots he faced—but the onslaught just proved to be too much. The Stealth didn’t look much like they had a comeback in them until the final minute, when Rhys Duch scored his hat trick goal at 14:01 to pull them back within a single marker. The Rush held them off, though, to finish out a remarkable night of NLL action as the only team to still have a perfect record at 4-0.
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