We had a bit of a trend in the National Lacrosse League this past weekend: as the weekend went on, the games got closer. We started with a one-sided blowout, then a game that looked like it might be a blowout but wasn’t, then a fairly close one-goal game, and finally a game that was about as close as you can get and still have a winner. If a fifth game had started right after Minnesota’s win over Buffalo, it might not end until Wednesday. The Edmonton Rush’s undefeated streak faced one of its biggest challenges on Friday as the Rush faced the Buffalo Bandits, tied for first in the East.
The game started off going back and forth, with every one of the first ten goals either tying the game or putting a team up by one. But after Chad Culp tied the game at 4 early in the second, the Rush went on an 8-0 run over the next 30 minutes. The stingiest defense in the league allowed a single Bandit goal in the last 40+ minutes of the game as their winning streak reached 11 games. The Rush had a hat-trick of hat-tricks; Adrian Sorichetti’s first-ever NLL goal (and the beginning of his first-ever hat-trick) resulted in his first-ever Money Ballers points, but the game-winner was the second of Curtis Knight’s ‘trick. Zack Greer also scored three, but his were all well after the game-winner so no MB points for Greer.
We also saw an 8-goal run in the Calgary-Vancouver game but rather than in the middle of the game like in Edmonton, Calgary got it out of the way early. The Riggers opened the game with eight straight goals before Vancouver finally scored ten minutes into the second quarter. But once they broke their silence, the Stealth offense managed to make a game of it, outscoring the Roughnecks 8-3 over the next 25 minutes and getting back to within 3 with ten minutes to play. That was about the point when Mike Poulin decided that eight was enough and stoned the Stealth for the remainder of the game. Dane Dobbie extended his lead in the goal-scoring race to 5 over Stephen Leblanc with four in this game; his second goal early in the third was the game-winner.
No eight-goal runs in Philadelphia on Saturday night; in fact only once was there a run as long as four. The first half was a goal-fest — 19 goals scored and fans only had to wait three minutes between goals twice. But the offensive explosion was very even — other than the last five seconds of the second quarter, nobody led by more than two. By halftime, Kevin Crowley had scored four and Garrett Billings had seven points.
In the second half, both offenses slowed down a little. Only eight goals total, and Crowley only scored two. The game was tied at twelve after after three quarters, and the way the goal scoring was going we might have been looking at another 35-40 goal game. But as the teams buckled down and started playing more defensive in the fourth quarter, Kevin Crowley continued his offensive leadership and clutch play. After Crowley and Jordan Hall set up Tracey Kelusky with the go-ahead goal on the power play, Crowley scored his sixth of the game to put the Wings up by two. Evan Kirk allowed one more goal but the Rock could never get the equalizer to send this one to OT, making Crowley’s sixth the game-winner. Crowley ended up with 8.5 Money Baller points, tying Lewis Ratcliff and John Grant for the highest single-game total this season.
Even though the Wings’ win was by a single goal, it was still only the second-closest game of the weekend. In an NLL first, neither team scored at all in the first quarter of Buffalo’s visit to Minnesota. Joe Resetarits finally broke the drought 3 minutes into the second quarter, but no floodgates opened as only five more goals were scored in the second. We went into halftime tied at 3. Toronto and Philly had scored more than three times as many goals at their halftime.
In the third quarter, the scoring opened up as each team scored four but once again, we finished the quarter with the score tied. In the fourth quarter, Aaron Wilson put the Bandits ahead by one and half a minute later Shawn Williams doubled the lead, but only nine seconds after that, Greg Downing cut the lead to one and less than two minutes later, surprise of surprises, we’re tied again as Scott Jones comes through for the Swarm. The game was tied after each of the four quarters, so off to OT we went.
In such a close game, it’s not surprising that we went almost eight minutes into the extra frame before Callum Crawford bounced one underneath Anthony Cosmo to give the Swarm their first home victory of the year. But of all the odd things we’ve seen in game score sheets over the years, this game featured one of the oddest. The scoreless first quarter was unprecedented so it’s hard to say anything else was more unusual than that, but a 0 in the points column next to John Tavares‘ name hasn’t happened in over twelve years. It’s not often Cosmo can say he outscored JT.
With the game-winner, two go-ahead goals, and assists on two others, Kevin Crowley wins Week 12 with 8.5 MB points. Dane Dobbie picked up two points to gain on the idle John Grant in the overall race, but Grant still has a 6.5 point lead. Cody Jamieson, Ryan Benesch, and Garrett Billings are all tied for third, but they’re 3½ points back of Dobbie and ten points behind Grant. Still, with five weeks left in the regular season, it’s not a two-horse race quite yet.
Here are the Money Baller standings after week thirteen. The number in brackets after a player’s name is their ranking in the scoring race.
|As of Week 13||First||Fourth||OT|
|1||John Grant Jr. (4)||COL||1||5||1||6||0||0||0||0||3||0||1||2||1||1||32.5|
|2||Dane Dobbie (7)||CAL||3||2||5||5||2||0||0||1||1||0||1||0||0||0||26.0|
|3||Cody Jamieson (2)||ROC||3||2||1||8||2||2||0||2||0||0||1||1||0||0||22.5|
|Ryan Benesch (T14)||BUF||1||3||3||4||0||2||0||0||0||0||1||3||0||1||22.5|
|Garrett Billings (1)||TOR||4||7||2||10||0||2||0||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||22.5|
|6||John Tavares (T32)||BUF||2||2||3||2||0||0||0||0||0||2||1||1||1||0||21.5|
|Curtis Knight (T29)||EDM||1||1||2||2||2||0||0||1||1||0||1||2||0||0||21.5|
|8||Colin Doyle (10)||TOR||1||2||3||4||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||20.5|
|9||Callum Crawford (T14)||MIN||1||2||3||5||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||2||1||0||20.0|
|10||Mark Matthews (17)||EDM||3||1||1||4||0||3||0||1||0||1||1||0||1||0||19.5|
|Drew Westervelt (21)||COL||4||2||2||3||0||0||0||0||3||1||0||0||0||0||19.5|
|12||Adam Jones (T29)||COL||2||1||2||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||1||0||0||0||18.0|
|Curtis Dickson (T19)||CAL||0||0||5||2||0||1||1||2||1||0||0||1||0||0||18.0|
|Stephen Keogh (T19)||ROC||0||3||8||5||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||18.0|
|15||Dhane Smith (T22)||BUF||0||4||2||7||1||0||0||0||0||3||1||0||0||0||17.5|
|Josh Sanderson (13)||TOR||2||3||2||5||0||2||0||2||1||0||0||0||0||1||17.5|
|Stephan Leblanc (T5)||TOR||4||6||5||5||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||17.5|
|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|
|Week 6||Garrett Billings||John Grant|
|Week 7||Dane Dobbie||John Grant|
|Week 8||Riley Loewen||John Grant|
|Week 9||Dane Dobbie||John Grant|
|Week 10||Mike Accursi, Kasey Beirnes, Brett Mydske, Josh Sanderson||John Grant|
|Week 11||Robert Church||John Grant|
|Week 12||Colin Doyle||John Grant|
|Week 13||Kevin Crowley||John Grant|
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