The battle between the top two defensive teams in the National Lacrosse League lived up to its billing. The Rochester Knighthawks and Edmonton Rush played a tight defensive game with some outstanding goaltending before Edmonton pulled out an 8-7 overtime win to remain undefeated. Going into the game, each team had played four games; Edmonton had allowed 32 goals and Rochester 34. That put the teams a couple of goals per game better than the rest of the league and suggested a low-scoring game was in the offing. It was.
Edmonton got off to a quick start, scoring twice in the first three minutes of the game, and led throughout until Stephen Keogh tied things up with an extra attacker goal with just 1:04 left in regulation. Keogh and the Knighthawks appeared to catch the Rush off guard on the play by getting the ball to him early in the shot clock. Cody Jamieson fed a quick pass to Keogh right on top of the crease. Keogh spun and tucked the ball over Aaron Bold’s shoulder to tie the game at 7-7.
The overtime didn’t last long. Edmonton set up in the offensive zone a minute into the extra frame and swung the ball around to the left side, where Riley Loewen and Mark Matthews ran a bit of a two-man game. Defender Mike Kirk lost his stick in the action, so when Matthews threw a hard duck and drive fake to slip past a defender, Kirk didn’t could get out on his hands to contest the shot. Matthews took advantage, faking far side to get Matt Vinc moving then bouncing a shot that slipped inside the near post and nestled under the cross bar at 1:16.
It was a great play and perfect shot, exactly what you’d expect it would take to score the game-winner in the defence-first struggle. It was also Matthews only goal of the game, to go with 1 assist. Cory Conway and Curtis Knight each scored twice for Edmonton while Jarrett Davis and Robert Church each had 3 assists. Dan Dawson returned from missing the second half of last week’s game against Buffalo with an injury to lead Rochester with 2 goals and 2 assists.
Edmonton led 4-2 after the first quarter but could score only 1 goal in each ensuing quarter. Rochester didn’t score at all in the second and just once in the third, but fought back with 3 goals in the fourth. Edmonton outshot the Knighthawks 50-37 overall. Edmonton is now 5-0 while Rochester drops to 3-2.
In Buffalo, the Bandits weathered a high-sticking major to John Tavares early in the fourth quarter to pull out a 12-10 win over the Toronto Rock. The win keeps the Bandits two games ahead of the field in the East Division; they are on a five-game winning streak that lifts them to 5-1 for the season. Mark Steenhuis had a huge night for the Bandits, scoring 4 goals and 2 assists and scooping up 12 loose balls. He took a pass in the slot from Tavares just after the captain returned to the floor from the major penalty and buried it to put Buffalo up 10-9, earned an assist on Ryan Benesch’s power play goal four and a half minutes later, then slipped around a pick by Steve Priolo and tucked home the Bandits’ final goal.
Tavares totalled 2 goals and 2 assists and Benesch finished with a hat trick. Josh Sanderson led the Rock with 3 goals and an assist while Garrett Billings and Stephan Leblanc each had 2 goals and 3 assists for Toronto. The game was filled with penalties, a total of 83 minutes between the two teams. Each scored three times on the power play, Toronto on 10 chances and Buffalo on nine.
Colorado rode a 9-point return to the lineup from Casey Powell to a 14-12 win over the Minnesota Swarm that moved them to third place in the West Division at 3-5. Powell scored 3 goals and added 6 assists to just outpace John Grant Jr., who posted a 3/5 scoring line for 8 points. Adam Jones scored twice and added a pair of assists before leaving with what turned out to be a separated shoulder that will keep him out of action for an estimated 4-6 weeks.
Callum Crawford led Minnesota with 4 goals and 3 assists. Andrew Suitor, Jordan MacIntosh and Logan Schuss each scored twice for the Swarm, who fall to 1-4 and remain last in the East Division.
Philadelphia got back to .500 and moved into third place in the East with a 15-9 win over the Vancouver Stealth behind big nights from Kyle Buchanan (4g, 3a), Pat Saunders (3g, 3a) and Jordan Hall (1g, 7a). Evan Kirk stopped 45 of the 54 shots he faced to help the Wings earn the win. Brett Hickey, Rhys Duch and Tyler Digby each scored twice for Vancouver.
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