Week 10 Saturday Shootout: Who Won and Why?
Week ten brought us some firsts. The NLL hosted its first game in Las Vegas, Nevada. From what I’ve seen, lady luck was on NLL’s side. Halifax experienced their first defeat in franchise history. And New England is enduring their first losing streak of the season. Lots to unpack. This week, I’m hoping to provide more insight into why each team won. Hope you enjoy!
Halifax (9) at Toronto (12) *Friday*
It was bound to happen. No one goes undefeated. Halifax’s undefeated season sunk like a rock. A raucous Toronto crowd of 10,946 willed their team to victory. The Rock brought the crowd into it immediately. Out of both halves, Toronto started fast. They won the first quarter 3-1 and the third 4-1. Halifax was immediately dug into a hole. Halifax’s normally stout defense was sloppy on the backside. The Rock consistently found open backside forwards, who easily dunked it past Warren Hill.
Late in the game, Halifax brought a six-goal game to 9-11. In a desperate attempt, Halifax pulled Warren Hill. Toronto’s David Brock (1 goal, 1 assist) nailed the coffin shut with an empty netter. Dan Dawson (3 goals, 1 assist) and Rob Hellyer (2 goals, 1 assist) enjoyed another successful night. Halifax’s Jake Withers went 21/23 on faceoffs; however, Toronto successfully minimized his success.
Georgia (12) at Philadelphia (11) *Friday*
Although 6,679 Wings fans went home disappointed, they witnessed a classic. The Swarm handed Philly their first home loss of 2020. Both teams put a major emphasis on feeding or getting to the crease. Both game plans were executed to perfection. While Philadelphia played well, Georgia created a couple more “wow” plays that made the difference. I honestly can’t believe how some of those goals went in.
Lyle Thompson (1 goal, 5 assists) bulled through Philly’s defense for an incredible goal. Randy Staats (3 goals, 1 assist) iced the game at 12-10 with a nice cut inside before popping back out to tally another hat trick. Philadelphia’s Matt Rambo (2 goals, 5 assists) and Kiel Matisz (1 goal, 3 assists) played well enough to win. I wasn’t aware of Brett Hickey’s absence pregame; however, Philly’s leading scorer (17 goals) didn’t appear on the stat sheet. Philadelphia missed him.
Rochester (15) at Buffalo (16) *Friday*
The renewal of a rivalry. Rochester 2.0 took it to Buffalo. The Knighthawks are extremely close to winning these kinds of games. Unfortunately, a horrendous own goal by Rochester made the difference. A badly bounced groundball snuck right past Craig Wende to make it 4-1 Buffalo. If Rochester doesn’t commit this gaff, the game never goes to overtime.
Buffalo’s ability to dodge down the alley and push towards goal provided the edge. Rochester couldn’t stop this. It was sniper’s galore as both teams scored impressive long-range goals. Rochester’s Shawn Evans reached 441 career goals making him 10th all time in NLL scoring history. Evans passed Lewis Ratcliff. Congratulations to him!
Rochester was always close to Buffalo away; however, the Bandits always had an answer. An impressive backside dunk by Chris Cloutier (4 goals, 4 assists) made it 14-13 Rochester. With ten seconds remaining, Buffalo’s Dhane Smith (4 goals, 7 assists) dodged down the center, moved left, and fed Cloutier for an overtime bringing goal. Amazing. In overtime, Buffalo took advantage of Rochester penalty. Dhane Smith found an open Corey Small on Wende’s left. Small quickly pushed the ball through. 16-15 Buffalo, final.
Vancouver (10) at New England (6)
This one is baffling. I don’t know what to think of who I thought to be the NLL’s most complete team. New England managed a measly two goals until the fourth quarter. The Black Wolves’ defense kept it 2-6, entering the fourth, but succumbed to Vancouver’s onslaught. The Warriors successfully took advantage of transition goals. The crease dive was a major part of their scoring game.
Vancouver’s Mitch Jones (3 goals, 2 assists) and Keegan Bal (3 goals, 2 assists) impressed. MVP frontrunner, Callum Crawford, was nonexistent. Crawford tallied 2 assists. Not good enough for his standards. Here we learned New England is beatable if Callum Crawford is stopped.
Colorado (10) vs San Diego (17) *In Las Vegas*
History was made this weekend. San Diego “hosted” Colorado in the NLL’s first ever Las Vegas game. A crowd of 4,821 attended this historic event. San Diego had a surprise for Colorado. The return of Austin Staats (1 goal, 3 assists). Brodie Merrill had a notable moment. With the first half winding down, and Dillon Ward pulled, Merrill scooped a loose ball and lobbed it towards the Mammoth net. The ball bounced and rolled its way into Colorado’s net. 8-6 San Diego at half.
Colorado’s first half play disappeared in the second. The Mammoth scored two goals in the second half. The Mammoth defense didn’t provide Ward with enough help. The Seals effortlessly dodged down the left alley and scored from Ward’s right. This occurred time and time again. Connor Fields (1 goal, 5 assists), Jeremy Noble (1 goal, 6 assists), and Casey Jackson (5 goals, 3 assists) were the focal points of the game plan. Staats was more of a distraction for Colorado’s defensemen.
All in all, a successful event in what could be seen as a possible NLL expansion city. Attendance doubled what New York welcomed (2,000) in their previous game.
Did you enjoy my Saturday Shootout? Didn’t enjoy it? I tried going more in-depth on what happened in each game thanks to feedback I have received. I always welcome feedback! If you have any thoughts, air them by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can also 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. Thank you for reading and enjoy NLL week eleven.