Final Four Set: National Lacrosse League Divisional Semifinals Recap

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Final Four Set: National Lacrosse League Divisional Semifinals Recap
The Calgary Roughnecks (right) defeated the Colorado Mammoth (left) on Saturday to move one step closer to the Champions Cup (Credit: National Lacrosse League).

Roughnecks top Mammoth, head to Western Division Final 

The Calgary Roughnecks had a full squad and had a full 60 minute effort as well. 

The Roughnecks defeated the Colorado Mammoth 10-6 on Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary and will now prepare for their Western Division Finals matchup.

Dane Dobbie and Scott Ranger led the Calgary (12-5) attack with three goals and one assist each, while John Grant Jr. for Colorado (5-12) also had a three goal, one assist game. 

Roughneck goaltender Mike Poulin stopped 43 Colorado shots in net while his counterpart for the Mammoth, Chris Levis, made 33 saves on 41 shots in the loss. 

For three quarters, the Mammoth and Roughnecks played neck-to-neck and equaled each other in the scoring department.

The difference came in the second quarter when Calgary scored four goals and held Colorado scoreless. 

“As a defensive unit, we kept our system,” Poulin said to NLL.com on the defensive effort in the middle two quarters. “We kept our pressure on, kept them to the outside and that’s all I can ask for as a goalie is to keep them to the outside.” 

The Mammoth defeated the Roughnecks two weeks ago on April 15, but Calgary was without four of the players, including top scorers in Dobbie and Ranger. 

Colorado’s season is now over, but for the Mammoth to make the playoffs is still quite the accomplishment after the team lost seven games in a row in the middle of the season.

Colorado head coach Bob Hamley said he is proud of how his team’s work ethic down the home stretch of the season, which included the Mammoth winning four games in the final weeks. 

“They have worked hard the last month and a half and have basically been in the playoffs in the month and a half,” Hamley said to NLL.com. 

Calgary will now host the Western Division Finals on Saturday.

 

Stealth get closer to second straight championship

Even with home field advantage, the Minnesota Swarm could not get past the Washington Stealth.

For the second year in a row, the Swarm are eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Stealth after Washington scored eight second half goals en route to their 14-8 victory on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. 

Washington (9-8) was led in the game by Rhys Duch and Lewis Ratcliff, who each had three on the night. Duch also added four assists while Ratcliff had three assists as well. Goaltender Tyler Richards made 40 saves on 47 shots in net for the Stealth.

Minnesota (8-9) was led on the score sheet by Kevin Ross, who had two goals and two assists, and Callum Crawford, who had two goals and one assist. League leading scorer Ryan Benesch was held without a goal in the game. Swarm goalie Nick Patterson made 38 saves in goal.

The Swarm won the season series, 2-1, against the Stealth, with the final two games being extremely close and were decided in overtime.

Saturday’s game looked to be destined for a similar outcome as the contest was tied up at six at halftime.

However, Washington gained the edge in the second half, scoring four goals in each of the final two periods and held Minnesota to just two tallies, both of which came in the third quarter. 

The Stealth, who are the defending NLL champions, will now travel to Calgary next Saturday to take on the Roughnecks at 9:30 p.m. EDT at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Calgary won the season series, 2-1.

 

Tavares scores late to send Bandits to Divisional Finals 

The Boston Blazers made it interesting in the end, but the better team came out with the victory. 

The Blazers scored five fourth quarter goals, including the game tying goal with less than two minutes to play, but veteran John Tavares scored for Buffalo with 40 seconds remaining and the Bandits went on to win 11-10 on Saturday night at HSBC Arena in Buffalo. 

“It was anybody’s game at that point,” Tavares said to NLL.com about his game winning goal. “It was definitely one of the bigger goals that I’ve scored in my career.” 

Tavares finished with three goals and four assists in the game. Roger Vyse finished with four goals and two assists and Buffalo goaltender Mike Thompson made 42 saves on 52 shots. 

For Boston, Dan Dawson finished with an eight point night (two goals and six assists) while Casey Powell had four goals and two assists. Goalie Anthony Cosmo made 29 saves on 40 shots.

The Bandits controlled play early on as they held a 7-4 lead at halftime and extended it to a 9-5 lead entering the fourth quarter. Tavares scored with 4:45 left to make it a 10-6 game, but Boston then got on a roll as they scored four times in a 2:41 span late in the game, three of which came with the extra attacker on the field.

However, Tavares scored his second of the quarter with 40 ticks left and Thompson stopped a late chance by Boston to send the Bandits to the Eastern Division Finals.

It was a rollercoaster season for the Blazers, which now ends with a tough loss and an 8-9 overall record.

“Tough loss, we expected to do better this year,” Boston head coach Matt Sawyer said to NLL.com. “We’re not happy.”

The Bandits improve their record to 12-5 overall and will host the Division Finals next weekend.

 

Rock get back on track by cooling off red hot Knighthawks

With the hottest team in the NLL entering the Air Canada Centre, the struggling Toronto Rock responded.

Colin Doyle and Garrett Billings each had hat tricks to help the Rock defeat the Rochester Knighthawks 10-8 on Sunday afternoon in Toronto.

The Knighthawks (10-7) were on a three game winning streak and had won five of their last six contests while the Rock (11-6) struggled to finish out their season, losing their final three games, but Doyle said the team stepped up with elimination on the line.

“We seem to be a better team when our backs are against the wall,” Doyle said to NLL.com.

“We were kind of lost in the shuffle there at the end of the year. We didn’t know what we were playing for, but we were a focused group today and we beat a really good team over there.”

Doyle and Billing also each added three assists to go with their three goal performances. Toronto goaltender Bob Watson made 33 saves on 41 shots.

Shawn Evans, Jordan Hall and Mike Accursi each finished with two goal nights while goalie Matt Vinc made 44 saves in the loss for Rochester.

After the first quarter, the contest was knotted up at three, but Toronto pulled away in the middle two stanzas, scoring five times while only allowing Rochester to score once, which came late in the third quarter.

The Knighthawks scored four goals in the fourth, but the Rock lead was just too much after Doyle added two red lighters in the final period to secure the win for Toronto.

“We had a very bad second quarter and they took it to us,” said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen to NLL.com.

“We didn’t do ourselves any favors and we stopped doing the little things that made us successful. We have to take this one and learn from it [because] we’ve come a long way.”

The Rock will play the Buffalo Bandits in the Eastern Division Finals on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT in Buffalo.

The Bandits won the season series, 2-1. Saturday’s game will air live on TSN2 in Canada and will re-air on Sunday at 2 p.m. EDT on VERSUS in the U.S.

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