The Rochester Knighthawks have done it again, winning their third straight National Lacrosse League championship in dramatic fashion. Rochester scored three times in the final 2:14 of the mini game to snatch the Champions Cup from the Calgary Roughnecks with a 3-2 victory in the mini game after taking Game 2 16-10. Craig Point scored two of the three mini-game goals while Joe Walters scored the other and set up both of Point’s markers in the 10-minute deciding contest. Dan Dawson had returned from injury to lead the Knighthawks to the Game 2 win, controlling the flow of the offence and scoring 3 goals and 4 assists to lead all scorers. Cody Jamieson added 3 goals and 3 assists and Stephen Keogh 3 goals and 1 assist. Shawn Evans and Curtis Dickson scored the Calgary goals in the mini game. Dickson had a hat trick in Game 2 for Calgary, as did Jeff Shattler. Dickson added 3 assists and Shattler 2.
Game 2 was close from the start through the end of the third quarter. Calgary jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first two minutes thanks to goals from Evans and Dickson, but Rochester battled back to make it 3-3 at the end of the quarter. Walters gave Rochester its first lead a couple of minutes into the second, but Calgary came back with a pair from Dickson, including a shorthanded marker, and one from Shattler to regain the lead. Then Keogh, Cory Vitarelli and Jamieson scored back to back to back to put Rochester up 7-6 heading into halftime.
The Knighthawks looked to have taken control in the first half of the third thanks to some scoring from their defensive players. After Vitarelli potted one, Paul Dawson and Scott Self scored on breakouts, both connecting from their off side, to put the Knighthawks up 10-6. But Calgary scored twice in a minute and a half then got a goal on a quick stick from Shattler with just one second left in the third to pull within a goal at the end of the quarter.
That late in the quarter goal didn’t result in momentum for the Roughnecks, though. Rochester took control in the fourth, outscoring Calgary 6-1, much to the delight of the 9,188 in attendance, to force the mini game to decide things.
Evans scored the mini game opener at 2:42 then set up Dickson’s goal at 4:40 to stun and quiet the home crowd. With three minutes left to play and Calgary still clinging to its 2-0 lead, it was looking very much like the Champions Cup was heading back to Alberta. Rochester wasn’t about to give up without a fight, though. Point was left alone on top of the crease and yelled for the ball, which he received on a pass from Walters from near centre floor. Point turned and quickly tucked the ball home at 7:46 to pull the Knighthawks within one and get the fans screaming again.
Walters then squeaked one through Mike Poulin at 8:37 and the fans were really going wild. Then, just 24 seconds later, Point connected again and the fans were on their feet for the rest of the game’s final minute. Calgary had some chances in a frenzied final possession, getting a few shots directed toward the net. Much like last year’s final, though, Matt Vinc made a save just as the buzzer went and the Knighthawks were champions, the first team to win three in a row in the history of the NLL.
Rochester 3, Calgary 2 (Box score)Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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