Saturday Shootout: Who Won and Why?
It was a Saturday spectacle for NLL junkies. Two new franchises won. Upsets occurred. And two overtime matches took place. If you wanted chaos, you got it. It was abundant. This Saturday Shootout comes a little late since I flew into Newark yesterday. I’ve been a little busy getting back into college lacrosse. Cool side note: I walked by Stephen A. Smith in the airport. He was surrounded by security and absolutely massive. He doesn’t look that tall on tv. Now that you received my life update (that you didn’t ask for), let’s review what happened.
Colorado (5) at Vancouver (8)
Don’t toss Twitter hate at me. This game didn’t occur on Saturday. But the US is a free country so I’ll do whatever the hell I want! It was Hawaiian night in Vancouver, where a crowd of 6,450 was on deck. A great crowd for Vancouver! Colorado came to play; however, they couldn’t beat goaltender Eric Penney. Penney had 48 saves on 53 shots. He played out of his mind. Penney’s play allowed Vancouver to outscore Colorado 3-2 in the second half. The Mammoth offense couldn’t get it going. Ironically, if you look at the stats, Colorado thoroughly outplayed Vancouver. The Mammoth won the groundball (80-63) and shots (53-38) battle. Unfortunately for Colorado, Vancouver had less opportunities, but made more of them.
On another note, the Warriors have done a fantastic job at utilizing the fame of Biz Nasty. He was comedic gold in the BR Live booth. Vancouver, please make Biz call your remaining home games.
San Diego (5) at Halifax (8)
San Diego visited Halifax staring 1-5 in the face. Halifax was looking to keep their undefeated season alive. The Seals played with the energy required to win; however, the Thunderbirds top ranked offense proved too much. With San Diego leading 5-4, early in the fourth, Halifax’s offense awoke. A four-goal run began with Kyle Jackson. Stephen Keogh finished it off with a late game hat trick. Jake Withers (1 assist) made it nigh impossible for San Diego to quickly respond. Withers finished 15 of 17 on faceoffs. Goaltender Warren Hill had 56 saves. When a goalie is hot, there isn’t much the opposition can do. Halifax handled some adversity and kept the party going.
Calgary (12) at Rochester (13)
Before opening faceoff, I predicted Rochester would keep it close. That said, I didn’t expect them to spring the upset. Rochester’s formula finally paid off. This team isn’t flashy. It’s a gritty bunch that refuses to be outworked. That translated into Rochester’s first win.
This game stayed close. Calgary had the largest lead at 7-4. Tied at 11, Calgary’s Zach Zerreweyers tallied the would be game winning goal. 12-11 Calgary. “Here we go”, I thought. Calgary’s depth was finally wearing Rochester down. Or so I thought. Rochester’s Ryland Rees (2 goals) responded with a goal of his own. Then, after a foolish illegal substitution by Calgary, Curtis Knight (3 goals, 3 assists) brought the hammer down. 13-12 Rochester. Final. What a game.
Philadelphia (7) at New England (8)
My game of the week did not disappoint. Whoever won would claim first place in the east division. Philly was the underdog, but they didn’t play like it. The Wings led 5-2 at half. It looked as if New England’s undefeated season would end. The pack was having none of it. New England’s defense took control in the second half. The Black Wolves outscored Philly 5-2 in the second half. Philadelphia had zero fourth quarter goals.
Taking advantage of an elite defensive performance, Joe Resitarits (2 goals) tied the game late. The 4,084 fans in attendance got extra lacrosse. New England’s heroics were rewarded in overtime. After a massive Doug Jamieson stop, all-star Callum Crawford (3 goals) ended it. The comeback was complete. Philadelphia gave New England all it could handle, but it wasn’t enough. New England’s defense is going to win this team a championship.
Toronto (8) at Buffalo (10)
In BR Live’s free game of the week, both teams came out firing. A home crowd of 12,026 went ballistic in response to Buffalo’s 6-2 second quarter. With Tom Schreiber on injured reserve, Toronto failed to capitalize on the power play (0-3). You must convert man ups to win big games. Bandits Josh Byrne (3 goals) and Chase Fraser (3 goals, 1 assist) robbed Toronto’s defense with some nasty snipes. Goalie Matt Vinc finished with 54 saves. A statement win in Buffalo.
The Riptide waited until week eight, but they’re finally over the hump. New York has their first win in franchise history. With Georgia leading 10-6, New York stormed back with a 7-3 fourth quarter. It was a tsunami. The bees had no hope against the onrushing waves.
With an 11-10 New York lead, I had the feeling Georgia was about pull something. They did in the form of Lyle Thompson (4 goals). Thompson scored back-to-back goals to put Georgia ahead. “This is it. They’ve blown it”, I thought. New York was choking. Gale Thorpe had something to say about that. With 1 second remaining, Thorpe ripped New York’s last hope into the net. Overtime.
Overtime didn’t disappoint. With both squads trading fast breaks (leaving fans pulling out their hair), captain Dan MacRae decided he’d had enough. MacRae took aim and put one past Mike Poulin. Game, set, match. Nearby America’s greatest city, New York endured a nail biter to score their first victory. My only complaint? Only 2,351 folks attended. Long Island is a lacrosse hotspot. The Riptide should have higher attendance (although, the 0-5 start doesn’t help).
Colorado (12) at Saskatchewan (6)
I have a conspiracy theory. Saskatchewan Rush players secretly hate their fan base and decided to lose all their home games. I’m just joking, but man, Saskatchewan has flopped in both their home games. After Colorado’s loss in Vancouver, the Rush were in line to steal a two-game lead in the west. Maybe they like chaos? Because that effort was atrocious.
After leading 4-2 exiting the first, Saskatchewan managed two goals. Two goals! For an offense with Mark Matthews and Robert Church, that’s terrible! And Saskatchewan’s defense was nowhere to be seen in the second. Colorado outscored Saskatchewan 5-0. The route was on.
The blame doesn’t completely fall on Saskatchewan. Mammoth forwards Ryan Lee (1 goal, 6 assists) and Chris Wardle (5 goals) were unstoppable. They obviously learned from round one. Meanwhile, Robert Church (2 assists) couldn’t get past Dillon Ward. The offense runs through Church. If he doesn’t get going, the Rush lose. I think NLL teams are catching onto this. Saskatchewan better make some adjustments. There are high expectations in Saskatoon. The bright side? Saskatchewan stays best in the west thanks to Vancouver. The teams will meet again to decide the season series.
Rochester (4) at Philadelphia (12) *Sunday*
How did Rochester handle their first win? Not well. The Wings were furious after falling in New England. This game was never in doubt. Philadelphia led 8-2 entering the fourth. Matt Rambo (5 assists) and Brett Hickey (4 goals) had field days. One stat will become a trivia question someday. How many penalty minutes were called? 108. No, I’m not making that up. The referees deserve a bonus after this one. Rochester gooned it up once they fell behind. Too bad they couldn’t back themselves up on the scoreboard. If this was boxing, Rochester wins. Wrong sport Knighthawks (I will admit, the fighting was still awesome).
Phew. So, there you have it. My comprehensive review of week eight. It’ll be hard for week nine to follow. Week eight must’ve been on Oprah. “You get an upset! You get an upset! And you get an upset!” Chaos (PLL shout out) wasn’t lacking.
That all said, thank you for reading! What did you think of my takeaways? Did you enjoy them? Hate them? Did I miss something? Whatever your thoughts, air them by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can comment directly onto this article by subscribing. By subscribing, you’ll be notified whenever I publish a new article. Any and all support is appreciated! Regardless, thank you for reading! Here’s to an exciting NLL season.