NLL Week 16 Recap: Knighthawks Rout Bandits and Swarm Secure Home Playoff Game
Knighthawks Rout First Place Bandits in Season Finale
It didn’t take long for the Rochester Knighthawks to silence the 18,690 fans in attendance at Buffalo’s HSBC Arena.
The Knighthawks scored seven first quarter goals and never looked back as they defeated the Eastern Division leading Buffalo Bandits 15-9 on Saturday night.
Rochester (10-6) was led by rookie Cody Jamieson, who finished the game with three goals and four assists, and goaltender Matt Vinc, who played phenomenal in net and made 37 saves on 46 shots.
Jarrett Davis also had a hat trick—his first of his career—for the K-hawks, while teammates Jordan Hall, Mike Accursi and Shawn Williams had two goal nights. Williams added five assists to his two tallies as well.
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first five minutes of the contest, Buffalo (10-6) pulled goaltender Angus Goodleaf in favor of the usual starter, Mike Thompson. The switch seemed to eventually help as Tracey Kelusky scored for Buffalo midway through the stanza to help spark a Bandits’ run that picked up steam in the second quarter.
In the second, Buffalo scored four times and were back into the game by halftime as they only trailed the Knighthawks 8-5. However, Rochester would win the final two periods to secure their first win of the season against their western New York rival.
“We made a couple adjustments on defense, but we dug such a hole,” said Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour in a news release.
“Our offense tried to get us back into it, but we had a couple bad breaks. There’s bad breaks and stuff that you can’t foresee happening, but at the same time, we need to come out with a better focus.”
Veteran John Tavares led Buffalo with a six point effort (two goals and four assists) while fellow forward Brendan Thenhaus had three goals and one assist in the game.
After letting in two early goals upon his entry in the first quarter, Thompson was once again consistent in net for Buffalo as he finished with 30 saves on 41 shots and kept the Bandits within scoring distance for most of the game.
The Bandits starter, Goodleaf, finished with four saves on 12 shots.
The Knighthawks win and the Bandits loss has no effect on the final Eastern standings going into the postseason as Buffalo holds the tiebreaker for first over both 10-6 Toronto and Rochester.
The first round of the NLL Playoffs begin next weekend with the Bandits hosting the Boston Blazers on Saturday Apr. 30 at 7:30 p.m. EDT at HSBC Arena. The Knighthawks will play the Toronto Rock on Sunday May 1 at 3:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre.
Ten Goal Run Leads Swarm past Mammoth and to a Home Playoff Game
For the first time since 2008, the Minnesota Swarm will be playing a home playoff game.
The Swarm scored ten straight goals in the middle two quarters to defeat the Colorado Mammoth 12-8 and secure a home playoff date last Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
"Obviously, it was a huge win for us,” said Minnesota head coach Mike Lines to NLL.com. “It's been our goal since we got the playoff berth. [Colorado] has had the hottest defense in the last few weeks or so, and it felt great to get that win here tonight."
The Mammoth (5-11) held a 4-2 lead late in the second quarter, but the Swarm (8-8) scored four times in the final four minutes to take the two goal lead at the half. Minnesota added six more goals in the third and held Colorado scoreless in the quarter, as well to make it a 12-4 contest entering the final 15 minutes.
In the fourth quarter, the Mammoth went on their own run, scoring four goals while keeping the Swarm at zero tallies in the period. However, the deficit was just too much for Colorado as they dropped their third game of the season to the Swarm.
Minnesota star forward Ryan Benesch had another productive night on the score sheet, finishing with three goals and five assists in the game. Jamie Shewchuk finished his night with three goals and one assist for the Swarm while teammate Callum Crawford had two goals and four assists.
Swarm goalie Nick Patterson made 37 saves on 45 shots and said after the game that the team didn’t want to play tense against a Colorado club that had won three of their last four contests and knocked off the league leading Calgary Roughnecks last week.
"We're just trying to take every game as it comes,” Patterson said to NLL.com.
“We weren't trying to put pressure on ourselves, and we knew [the home field] was on the line, and we came out relaxed."
Eight different Mammoth players scored in the game, but John Grant Jr. and Dan Carey made the biggest impact for Colorado as Grant picked up one goal and four assists while Carey picked up one goal and three assists.
Chris Levis began the evening in net for the Mammoth, but he was pulled after he gave up the Swarm’s sixth goal in their 10 score run early in the third quarter. Levis ended his evening with 21 saves on 29 shots while his replacement, Matt King, made 12 saves on 16 shots.
Colorado will play their first playoff game since 2009 next Saturday April 30 at 8:30 p.m. EDT against the Roughnecks at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. The Mammoth won the season series against the Riggers and will be looking for their third win over the NLL’s best team.
Minnesota will also be looking for their third win of the season, but against the Washington Stealth. The Swarm will host the Stealth on Saturday April 30 at 8:30 p.m. EDT at the Xcel Energy Center.
NLL Divisional Semifinals Schedule
Boston Blazers (8-8) at Buffalo Bandits (10-6) – Saturday Apr. 30, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Colorado Mammoth (5-11) at Calgary Roughnecks (11-5) – Saturday Apr. 30, 8:30 p.m. EDT
Washington Stealth (8-8) at Minnesota Swarm (8-8) – Saturday Apr. 30, 8:30 p.m. EDT
Rochester Knighthawks (10-6) at Toronto Rock (10-6) – Sunday May 1, 3:30 p.m. EDT
All four playoff games will be broadcasted live on the NLL Network at NLL.com. The Rochester-Toronto game will air live on TSN 2 for Canadian viewers (NLL Network broadcast blacked out in Canada).
The winners of the four games will advance to their respective Divisional Finals on the weekend of May 6-8.
Ron Knabenbauer is a National Lacrosse League Correspondent for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials.
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