It took a little longer than they had hoped for, but the Boston Blazers finally secured their bid to the postseason.
The Blazers defeated the Philadelphia Wings 9-7 to earn the final playoff bid from the Eastern Division and end a five-game losing streak on Saturday night at TD Garden in Boston.
"Our locker room is jumping up and down, and dancing and chanting and singing right-now,” said Boston forward Casey Powell after the game. “It is a great atmosphere, something that we expected from the beginning of the season and now we are concentrating on trying to win a championship. It's refreshing, it's relieving and it's great for the morale of our team."
After a big win last weekend against Toronto, Philadelphia had moved to half-a-game behind Boston and could have clinched the last playoff spot with wins against Boston on Friday and Rochester on Saturday.
However, with their season on the verge of disaster, the Blazers responded.
"It's good to see those guys have some success. I'm happy for that group in the room there," said Boston head coach Matt Sawyer on Saturday. "It is good to see them perform when their backs are against the wall."
Veteran Dan Dawson led Boston’s charge in the game as he finished with five goals, including scoring the final three tallies for the Blazers to secure the victory. He also had two assists in the game.
Powell finished with two goals and three assists for Boston while teammates Kevin Buchanan and Nick Cotter also found the back of the net.
Blazers goaltender Anthony Cosmo made 28 saves on 35 shots.
For Philadelphia, Drew Westervelt had three goals and one assist and Ryan Boyle had two goals and one assist.
Brendan Mundorf and Dan Danowski also scored for the Wings, while goalie Brandon Miller stopped 30 of Boston’s 39 shots.
After the game, Boyle said that the Wings still need to play hard and end their season on a positive note, even though they are mathematically eliminated from playing in the postseason.
"Well [this game] ended our season, so I think that is a pretty big effect," Boyle said. "Now it is just a matter of being professional and going out battling. We have two more games and we are starting to build for next year. We'll see what we are made of."
Philly played Boston tough in the first quarter, but fell down 4-2 after the first 15 minutes.
The second quarter was something for the Wings to forget, as they were held scoreless in the stanza and were down 6-2 at the half.
Philadelphia came out into the third more focused and scored three goals. They played well in the fourth, cutting the Boston lead to one midway through the final period.
That was as close as Philly would get to tying the game, as Dawson scored with 2:25 left to give Boston some insurance and send the Blazers into the postseason.
Boston will be the No. 4 seed when the playoffs begin on Apr. 29, and they will face either Buffalo or Toronto.
The Blazers will close out their regular season next Saturday against the Bandits in Buffalo in a possible preview of the Eastern Division Semifinals.
Philadelphia played on Sunday at home versus Rochester and will close out their season in Minnesota, also next Saturday.
Now here is a look at the other six games in Week 14 of the National Lacrosse League.
Bandits Spoil Watson’s and Rock’s Party
It was a celebration of one of the best goaltenders ever—until the Buffalo Bandits stole the show.
The Bandits took the top seed in the Eastern Division for the first time this season after they defeated the Toronto Rock 11-8 on Friday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
It was the final regular-season home game for Rock goalie Bob Watson, who is going to retire after the end of the season. But with five third-quarter goals, the Bandits might as well have ruined the night.
For the first time all season, Toronto will not be in first place in the East after Friday’s loss.
The Rock have lost three of their last four contests, dropping their record to 10-5 entering their final game of the season next week.
"It's frustrating that we blew first place,” said Toronto head coach Troy Cordingley. “It was a special night for Bob but team comes first. We're brutal right now. We're not playing well and we have to get back to playing the way that we can play. We got to find that will to win and do whatever it takes. We were taught a lesson tonight against a team who wanted to win more than we did."
Veteran John Tavares led the Bandits offense in the game with two goals and four assists while Tracey Kelusky and Chad Culp both finished with two goals and three assists.
Kasey Beirnes was the best player on the floor for the Rock as he finished with three goals and two assists.
Late Goal Lifts Bandits Past Knighthawks
Mark Steenhuis scored with under a minute to play to lift the Buffalo Bandits past the Rochester Knighthawks 9-8 on Saturday night and solidify their position as the best team in the Eastern Division.
"I didn't even really know that there was 51 seconds left," Steenhuis said. "We seemed like we were getting some good shots off of me driving and trying to draw the double and kicking it back out. That's what we were trying to do. I realized I had a step. Thankfully [Rochester goalie Matt Vinc] moved his stick and it went in."
John Tavares and Tracey Kelusky had their second-straight night of solid production for the Bandits offense, as Tavares finished with three goals and one assist while Kelusky had two goals and three assists. Buffalo goalie Mike Thompson finished with 41 saves.
Shawn Evans and Shawn Williams led the Rochester offense in the game as both players finished with two goals and one assist.
Buffalo now holds a half-game lead over Toronto for first place in the Eastern Division and needs a only one win in their final two games or a Toronto loss to secure the East regular-season title.
Rochester looked to rebound on Sunday as they traveled to Philadelphia to play the Wings.
Big Third Quarter Leads Roughnecks to Victory
The Calgary Roughnecks scored seven third-quarter goals to help defeat the Colorado Mammoth 14-13 on Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
Dane Dobbie finished with four goals and one assist for the Roughnecks, with two of his goals coming in the third quarter.
Daryl Veltman and goaltender Mike Poulin also had good nights for the Riggers, as Veltman scored three goals while also adding two assists and Poulin made 40 saves on 53 shots.
Three Colorado players finished with hat tricks in the game as Alex Gajic, John Grant Jr. and Dan Carey all scored three times. Grant added five assists while Carey added three helpers.
In the fourth quarter, the Mammoth offense was putting a lot of pressure on the Roughnecks in an attempt to close the gap, but Poulin and the Calgary defense were up to the test.
Carey eventually scored with eight seconds remaining to cut the Colorado deficit to one, but the Mammoth just didn’t have enough time on the clock to complete the comeback.
Colorado and Calgary will meet again next week in Denver in the Roughnecks final regular-season game. The Mammoth also played on Saturday in Edmonton.
Mammoth on the Verge of Playoffs with Win in Edmonton
On the verge of elimination from postseason contention, the Colorado Mammoth responded.
All the Edmonton Rush had to do to make the playoffs was win—but Colorado’s Brian Langtry and John Grant Jr. had other plans.
Langtry had four goals and Grant had three to lead the Mammoth to the 13-6 victory over the Rush on Saturday at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
"We just couldn't get a run going," said Rush head coach Derek Keenan. "You know, scoring six goals just isn't going to do it."
With the victory, Colorado wins the season series over Edmonton and controls their own destiny to make the playoffs.
The Mammoth just need the Rush to lose to the Toronto Rock next weekend or to win one of their final two games against Calgary or Minnesota over the next two weeks.
Ryan Ward scored three goals for Edmonton while teammate Corey Small had one goal and three assists.
Now, with the roles reversed and the Rush on verge of elimination, Keenan is trying to look at the team’s position in a positive light.
"We've got a chance, it's not the ideal situation, but now we've got to come back and try to get a win against Toronto and see what happens from there," Keenan said.
The Mammoth’s victory is their second in nine days against the Rush after the two teams split a home-and-home series last weekend.
Duch the Hero Again for the Stealth
The Washington Stealth are starting to get used to playing in overtime.
In Washington’s third-straight overtime game, Rhys Duch scored 30 seconds into the extra frame to lift the Stealth past the Minnesota Swarm 16-15 on Saturday night at Comcast Arena in Everett, Wash.
“Duch continues to do it,” said Washington head coach Chris Hall. “When games are on the line, clutch guys rise to the occasion.”
Duch finished the game with five goals and five assists and his OT goal is his second game-winning goal in Washington’s last four games.
Lewis Ratcliff led all Stealth players on the scoresheet, as he had six goals and five assists in the contest.
Aaron Wilson led Minnesota with four goals and two assists while Ryan Benesch had a seven-point game, finishing with three goals and four assists.
Washington will close out their regular season next week at home versus Rochester, while Minnesota has two games remaining in their regular season—at home against Philadelphia and Colorado.
The Stealth and Swarm will play each other in the first round of playoffs that begin the weekend of Apr. 29.
Knighthawks Outlast Wings
No goals in the first quarter, no problem for the Rochester Knighthawks.
Rochester scored 10 goals in the final three quarters to defeat the Philadelphia Wings 10-6 and secure the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Division on Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
"We both played last night and both had some early travel and there were times when it showed," said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen. "Everybody was feeling their way through it early on and then the pace finally picked up towards the end."
The Knighthawks had a balanced offense against Philly, as eight players scored the team’s 10 goals. Shawn Williams and Cody Jamieson both scored twice for Rochester.
Williams and Jamieson also added two assists each as well.
Drew Westervelt led the Wings in the goal department as he tallied three red-lighters in the contest.
Rochester has two games left in their regular season: at Washington on Apr. 16 and at Buffalo on Apr. 23, before the playoffs start on Apr. 29.
Philadelphia will play their final game of the season next week at Minnesota.
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