WEEKEND RECAP, NEWS & QUOTES
Division leaders fall; Playoff hopes fading for defending champs
Week 13 in the NLL was highlighted by upsets, comebacks, and, in the cases of Brian Langtry and Jeff Zywicki, milestones. Here's what happened around the league in a busy, six game weekend:
Colorado at Portland (Thursday):
After a week off following back-to-back losses to Edmonton and Calgary, the Portland LumberJax (4-7) pulled off their biggest win of the season by upsetting the division leading Colorado Mammoth (6-4), 16-15, at the Rose Garden.
What might be overshadowed by the upset is the performance of Mammoth forward Brian Langtry, who scored a career best nine goals to go along with four assists. Langtry's nine goals are the most scored by a single player in the NLL this season. Unfortunately, for Colorado, Gee Nash (47 saves on 63 shots) and the Mammoth defense allowed a season-high 16 goals, which was also Portland's biggest offensive output of the season.
"Give credit to Portland," said Mammoth head coach Bob McMahon to coloradomammoth.com after the loss. "They kept us off balance and took advantage of their scoring opportunities."
For the LumberJax, they were led by Dan Dawson's four goals and two assists, while Matt King picked up his fourth win of the season by stopping 15 of the 21 shots he faced in exactly 23 minutes of work. The win moves Portland into third place in the West Division.
"It was a huge win," said LumberJax head coach Derek Keenan to portlandjax.com. "The guys knew we really needed this win and they executed the game plan real well."
Edmonton at Toronto (Friday):
In a battle between two of Canada's three NLL teams, the Toronto Rock (7-4), on the strength of a four goal, one assist effort by game MVP Aaron Wilson, defeated the Edmonton Rush (2-7), 14-9, in front of a Friday night crowd of 14,312 at the Air Canada Centre.
Wilson's performance was backed by Bob Watson's 43 saves on 52 chances. Matt Taylor also had a noteworthy game with three goals and an assist in the win. For Wilson, a four-goal game is something that he expects out of himself every night.
"I'm expected to score goals and I've struggled with my confidence," said Wilson to the Canadian Press after the game. "It's frustrating. Throughout the week I'm like, 'When am I going to break out? When am I going to have a four-or five-goal game?' I've been having those games my whole career."
Edmonton, who is now 2-2 with head coach Bob Hamley at the helm, was led by Chris Gill and Lindsay Plunkett's two-goal, one-assist efforts. Curtis Palidwor faced 52 shots on goal with 14 of those shots getting by him. After the first quarter ended in a 2-2 tie, Toronto went on to outscore Edmonton 7-1 in the following quarter.
"We couldn't match their energy, made a few mistakes, took some shifts off," said Hamley to John Korobanik of the Edmonton Journal. "We've been talking about that, we can't take shifts off. We're not as talented and we have to work our asses off every shift, and we just had a bad second quarter."
Philadelphia at New York (Saturday):
Despite All-Star forward Athan Iannucci netting four more goals to give him a league best 43, his Philadelphia Wings (7-2) gave up 20 goals as they were routed by the New York Titans (6-5), 20-13, in Trenton, NJ.
Iannucci, who also assisted on a goal by Jake Bergey, is now 19 goals away from breaking Gary Gait's mark of 61, set in 2003. Rob Blasdell, who suffered only his second loss of the season, gave up 18 goals on 41 shots.
"We took a few costly penalties tonight, but overall we just didn't play strong lacrosse,"said Wings head coach Dave Huntley to wingslax.com. "We knew that New York was a dangerous team and we just didn't match their effort."
New York, who got four goal efforts from both Casey Powell and Ryan Boyle, has now won five of their last six games and are now only two games behind division leading Philadelphia in the East Division. Matt Vinc faced 50 shots from the Wings, but was able to stop 37 of them.
Chicago at Rochester (Saturday):
Prior to Saturday's game against the Chicago Shamrox (2-7), Rochester Knighthawks' (4-6) defenseman Regy Thorpe, who is also the team captain, compared his team's recent struggles to the praise and expectations they had as the defending NLL champs prior to the start of the season.
"Talk about going from the penthouse to the outhouse in two months; we sure have," said Thorpe to Sal Maiorana of the Rochester D&C. "I don't think anyone is to blame, we all could be better."
After Thorpe's statement, his Knighthawks were upset by the last place Shamrox, 12-11, in front of a disappointed 10,221 at Blue Cross Arena.
Game MVP Jonas Derks netted four goals and an assist, while Matt Roik made 45 saves on 56 shots to give Chicago its first win since defeating the Edmonton Rush, 17-11, on Jan. 26.
After the loss, Rochester now sits in sixth place in the East Division, with only Chicago below them. John Grant netted four of Rochester's 11 goals and assisted of three others. Pat O'Toole suffered his fourth loss of the season as he made 34 saves on 46 shots.
"We've just been inconsistent and inconsistency in this league gets you the record we have right now," said Knighthawks head coach Ed Comeau to the Rochester D&C. "There's no easy games in our league. For us it gets harder and harder from here on in."
Calgary at San Jose (Saturday):
In a back and forth contest that had the Calgary Roughnecks (4-8) grab a 12-9 lead after being down 6-1 to start the game, the San Jose Stealth (6-4), on the strength of four straight fourth quarter goals, pulled off a 13-12 comeback victory to move back into a first place tie with the Colorado Mammoth in the West Division.
Colin Doyle, who had a game leading four goals and five assists, scored the game-winning marker with five seconds left in the fourth quarter. Team goal scoring leader Jeff Zywicki also had a memorable game as his third quarter powerplay goal now gives him 100 career goals in just under three seasons in the league. Starting goalie Anthony Cosmo was pulled after allowing 10 goals on 35 shots. In his place, backup goalie Aaron Bold, who picked up his second win of the season, allowed just two goals on 14 shots.
"I thought Aaron Bold came off the bench and played awesome," said Stealth head coach Walt Christensen after the comeback victory. "We have the best goaltending duo in the league."
Lewis Ratcliff's three goals and three assists led Calgary's scoring attack, while Pat Campbell allowed 13 goals on 51 shots to suffer his fifth loss of the season.
Toronto at Buffalo (Saturday):
On the night where Toronto Rock (4-4) forward Jim Veltman returned to Buffalo, a place where he won three NLL titles, his Rock were able to knock off the Buffalo Bandits (7-5), 13-9, in front of 15,230 at HSBC Arena.
Veltman, who said he'll retire after this season, had no points in his team's win, but still managed to contribute with five shots on goal and ten loose balls.
"I'm going to remember this one for sure," said Veltman to Tom Borrelli of the Buffalo News. "I have a lot of good memories here but the best ones are usually wins for me. If I can't win with a Bandits jersey on, I'll take winning with an opposition jersey on."
Josh Sanderson and Aaron Wilson each had four goals to lead their team in that category. Goalie Bob Watson made 35 saves on 42 shots to pick up his seventh win of the season.
For Buffalo, Cory Bomberry had an even two goals and two assists, while Delby Powless wasn't far behind with two goals and no assists. Ken Montour faced 53 shots on goal, but only managed to stop 41 of them.
"To only put up nine goals is not acceptable and it's not going to get us a win," said Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour to the Buffalo News after the loss. "We didn't shoot well. The offensive effort wasn't there tonight . . . and we couldn't get timely goals."