Money Ballers: Colorado’s John Grant Jr. moves to top of table with overtime heroics

Saturday's winner in OT helped Colorado's John Grant Jr. move into the overall Money Ballers lead. (Photo: Dan Brodie)
Saturday's winner in OT helped Colorado's John Grant Jr. move into the overall Money Ballers lead. (Photo: Dan Brodie)

They don’t get much closer than that. Week 5 of the National Lacrosse League season was a real Money Ballers weekend which consisted of three one-goal games including one in OT and two others featuring 4th quarter game-winning goals. In all three games, the team that was losing for most of the game managed a comeback late in the game — but then the similarities end and we had three different finishes. The festivities began in Buffalo, where Matt Vinc and Anthony Cosmo put on a joint goaltending clinic in the first quarter, only allowing a single goal.

The Bandits began to break down the Rochester defense in the second with 5 goals, but it was 23 minutes into the game before the Knighthawks could solve Cosmo. The Knighthawks went into halftime down 6-2 and after another frustrating quarter for the reigning champs, it was 10-3 and the Bandits looked in control. The Knighthawks scored two in the opening few minutes of the 4th quarter and were then silent for another 7 minutes. And that’s when Comeback No. 1 began.

Despite their second-leading scorer Dan Dawson being absent the entire second half, the Knighthawks scored five goals in the final four minutes of the 4th quarter to get back within one. Only 15 minutes earlier, they were down by 7 and didn’t look like they were in the game at all, and suddenly it’s a one-goal game. But the comeback fell just short and the Bandits never lost the lead. The only goal they scored in the fourth quarter, Joe Resetarits‘ third of the game, ended up being the game-winner. Without that clutch goal, we’re tied with 19 seconds left in regulation, and it’s a whole different game.

In Calgary, the first quarter went back and forth before the Mammoth grabbed the lead with only 7 seconds left. They added to that lead early in the second quarter on Adam Jones‘ second of an amazing seven on the night, the first seven-goal game in the NLL since Lewis Ratcliff did it in April 2012. After John Grant scored to put the Mammoth up 5-2, the game continued back and forth for the next quarter and a half. Nobody scored more than two goals in a row, and the Mammoth neither lost the lead nor led by more than three. Calgary finally tied it up late in the third (Comeback No. 2), then the Mammoth took a two-goal lead again, then Jeff Shattler tied it again on the power play. Then the goalies took over.

Both Dillon Ward and Mike Poulin knew the next goal might be the last (and they turned out to be right) and neither one wanted to be the one to give it up, so both of them were perfect for the last eight minutes of regulation. In particular, Poulin stood tall when the Mammoth had possession during almost an entire two-minute power play. Few goalies have deserved Money Ballers points for coming through in the clutch more than Poulin did during the last five minutes of that game. So to overtime we went, as Calgary tried to complete their comeback. In the end, Poulin’s fourth quarter heroics simply delayed the Mammoth victory, as he was fooled by a shot that beat him for the game winner. But if you’ve seen the goal, you can hardly blame him. For the second time in two weeks, Grant scored an amazing goal that should show up on every sports highlight show in the country, this one a completely blind over-the-shoulder shot that Poulin had no way to know was coming.

In the final game of the weekend, the Vancouver Stealth hosted the Edmonton Rush in a game that produced perhaps the strangest game sheet in recent memory. Other than the first goal and the last, all of the goals in the game were scored in two huge streaks. The game was scoreless for 10 minutes before Cory Conway put the Rush ahead, albeit temporarily. Vancouver then scored seven straight goals in less than 12 minutes, taking a 7-1 lead. Curtis Knight stopped the bleeding with a shorthanded marker before halftime, and then the momentum gradually shifted the other way, leading to Comeback No. 3. Knight’s goal was the first of eight straight by the Rush, as they completed the comeback and took a two-goal lead. Rhys Duch finally stopped the Edmonton streak, but it was Vancouver’s only goal in the last thirty-five minutes of the game and it wasn’t enough for the Stealth to mount a comeback of their own.

So the three comebacks were of different types: one that wasn’t quite completed, one that was but the team lost anyway, and one that gave the comeback team a win. It looked like we might have had two blowouts this week, but instead we had three games that were as close as you can get. The fact that you’re almost never out of a game until the very end is one of the reasons we love lacrosse — but if you’re reading this article you probably know that already.

Colorado took the lead four times in their win over Calgary. Two of the go-ahead goals including the OT winner were scored by Grant, and he assisted on one other, giving him 7.5 MB points for the weekly lead. It was also enough to propel him above John Tavares for the overall lead. This is familiar territory for Grant, having won the 2012 Money Ballers. Grant’s teammate Jones also jumped JT to land in second place, while Ratcliff and Drew Westervelt round out the top five.

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

  As of Week 5   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 Grant Jr. (2) COL 0 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 1 0 17.5
2 Adam Jones (1) COL 2 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 0 16.0
3 John Tavares (24) BUF 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 13.5
4 Lewis Ratcliff (15) VAN 0 1 1 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 12.5
5 Drew Westervelt (T11) COL 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 11.5
6 Dane Dobbie (T11) CAL 0 2 4 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 10.5
  Rhys Duch (T6) VAN 2 1 1 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 10.5
8 Dhane Smith (T6) BUF 0 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 9.5
  Cody Bremner (T44) VAN 1 0 0 1 1 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 9.5
  Ryan Benesch (T6) BUF 1 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 9.5
11 Cody Jamieson (14) ROC 1 1 1 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 9.0
  Kyle Buchanan (T3) PHI 1 1 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9.0
13 Jarrett Davis (T19) EDM 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8.0
  Dan Dawson (T19) ROC 0 0 1 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 8.0
15 Joel McCready (T39) ROC 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.5
  Curtis Knight (T19) EDM 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 7.5


  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
Week 5 John Grant John Grant

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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