April 27, 2013

Rochester, Minnesota, Washington, Calgary Advance in NLL Playoffs

from nll.com

The NLL Divisional finals are set after this weekend's quarterfinal matchups. In the West, the Calgary Roughnecks will host the Washington Stealth at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. In the East, it's Minnesota, an upset winner over top-seeded Toronto, traveling to Rochester for the right to play for the Champion's Cup at 4 p.m. Saturday. Both games will air live on CBS Sports Network.

Calgary 15, Colorado 10

The Calgary Roughnecks used a dominating third quarter to advance to the West Division Final with a 15-10 home win over the Colorado Mammoth in their first-round playoff game at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.

Down 2-0 after the first four minutes of the game, the Roughnecks used a three-goal scoring run in a 1:21 span to take the lead before trading goals for a 4-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

After Colorado again scored twice in the first four minutes of the second quarter, the teams went back and forth and headed into halftime tied 7-7.

The third quarter was all Roughnecks as they scored the only four goals of the quarter, the first two while shorthanded on a five-minute major penalty, for an 11-7 lead after 45 minutes of play.

Two more Calgary goals in the first 2:26 of the fourth quarter widened the margin before Colorado finally stopped the run with Casey Powell's goal 27 seconds later, snapping a 19-save second-half streak by Roughnecks goalie Mike Poulin.

When Jeff Shattler made it 15-8 for the Roughnecks with 2:29, it was all but decided. Two late Mammoth goals were not enough to overcome the large deficit as the Roughnecks moved on to the second round.

Roughnecks forward Shawn Evans, who won the NLL scoring title with 112 points (30+82) during the regular season, scored a hat trick as did Shattler and Scott Ranger. Shattler had a game-high seven points (3+4), Daryl Veltman had six points (1+5) while Geoff Snider had a game-high 22 loose balls and went 23-for-29 (79%) on faceoffs.

Powell recorded a team-high six points (3+3) for the Mammoth, Adam Jones scored four goals, Jordan McBride had five assists and John Grant, Jr. had five points (2+3) in the losing effort.

Poulin finished with 32 saves on 40 shots before being given some rest on the bench in the final two minutes with the game in hand. Mammoth goalie Tye Belanger had just 27 saves on 40 shots before he was pulled in favor of backup Dan Lewis.

Calgary will host the Washington Stealth on Saturday, May 4 at 6 p.m. ET to decide which team will go on to the 2013 NLL Championship Game. Watch the game live on CBS Sports Network.

Rochester 10, Philadelphia 8

The defending champion Rochester Knighthawks kept their repeat hopes alive by advancing to the second round of the 2013 NLL playoffs with a 10-8 home win over the Philadelphia Wings, extending their 12-year postseason win drought, in the East Division Semifinal at The Blue Cross Arena on Saturday night.

Rochester's Dan Dawson, acquired from Philadelphia via trade before the regular season, opened the scoring with the first of his four first-half goals 6:07 into the game. Dawson's scored his second of the night with 26 seconds left in the first quarter on a diving goal to give the Knighthawks a 3-0 lead as goaltender Matt Vinc stopped all eight shots by the Wings after 15 minutes of play.

The teams traded six goals in the first six minutes of the second quarter, starting with two quick tallies by the Wings in the opening 1:24, before Dawson's fourth with less than minutes left in the half put the Knighthawks up 6-4 at halftime.

"[Dawson] is a veteran guy and he likes the ball in his stick and he dictates the pace of the game," said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. "When 'Jammer' went down, we needed that guy to be there for us, and Dawson stepped up for us."

20 seconds into the second half, Rochester's Dylan Evans took a five-minute major penalty for high sticking and Philadelphia converted on the power play to pull within a goal almost two minutes later.

After killing off the rest of the penalty, the Knighthawks made it 7-5 on forward Stephen Keogh's goal midway through the third quarter before Wings leading scorer Kevin Crowley answered with 1:37 left with his second goal of the night to cut the deficit to 7-6 after three quarters.

Wings forward Brendan Mundorf tied the game just 21 seconds into the fourth quarter. After Philadelphia's Ned Crotty was assessed an illegal cross checking penalty with 7:30 left, Rochester's Craig Point scored a quick stick one-timer goal to pull ahead 8-7.

With 3:21 remaining, Rochester defenseman Scott Self went to the box, much to the dismay of the home crowd. Less than a minute later, Wings forward Drew Westervelt was called for roughing and exactly one minute after that, Knighthawks defenseman Paul Dawson, who scored just once in 16 games during the regular season and came along with his brother Dan in the preseason trade, extended their lead to 9-7 with a diving goal.

"We had numbers so then I kind of ran it up," Paul Dawson said. "Their guy left me at first, so I went to take the shot and then he came up to play me, so that's when I ducked underneath. I threw a little bit of a fake and [Wings goalie Brandon Miller] went down. I knew I was close to the crease so I dove and tried to get it over top of him."

"We'll take it," Hasen said. "It was a good lift, especially coming from a defensive guy. Our defense stood tall and it was nice for Paul to get rewarded there."

The Wings were assessed an illegal substitution penalty with 38 seconds left and any hopes of last-minute heroics were gone when Mike Accursi made it 10-7 with the man advantage. Philadelphia scored in the final seconds but it was too little, too late in a game in which Rochester never trailed.

Wings general manager and head coach Johnny Mouradian felt the defense gave his team an opportunity to win, but that the offense settled for shots and deviated from the game plan while Crowley, Mundorf and Westervelt each finished with a pair of goals.

"All we ask of Miller and our defense is to give us an opportunity to win and they did," Mouradian said. "I think our offense got off of our game plan and starting doing things you can't do. We gave them some transition and we took a penalty in the offensive end at the end and you can't have those mental breakdowns. You've got to score more than seven goals."

Knighthawks forward Cody Jamieson, the team's leading scorer and 2012 NLL Championship Game MVP, left the game due to a lower-body injury in the second quarter and did not return.

Philadelphia's last playoff win was exactly 12 years prior when they claimed the franchise's sixth title with a 9-8 victory over the Toronto Rock in the NLL Championship Game on April 27, 2001.

"We were rolling a little bit at the end of the year," said Wings transition player Jordan Hall. "From an offensive point of view, we finally started to figure it out. [Rochester played] tough 'D', had a good goalie, a different style of defense. Our offense didn't click the way it has been."

Hall was involved in the trade with Paul Rabil that sent the Dawson brothers to Rochester, but according to Dan Dawson, there wasn't any additional pressure to win against his former team.

"It's just another game for us, and I know I speak for Paul and I when I say that," Dawson said about playing his former team. "I had some great memories while we were in Philadelphia. Obviously we were on the other end of that last year."

An NLL team has not won back-to-back championships since the Rock earned consecutive titles in 2002 and 2003.

Rochester will play the winner of Sunday's East Division Semifinal game between the Toronto Rock and Minnesota Swarm, live from the Air Canada Centre at 3 p.m. ET on TSN2 in Canada or on Fox Sports North Plus and YouTube via The Lacrosse Network in the U.S. and outside Canada.

Last season, Rochester earned their first playoff win inside the Air Canada Centre in the 2012 East Division Final to advance to the NLL Championship Game.

"I'm going to key in and probably DVR it on TSN2 and hopefully see some tendencies," Vinc said. "The thing is about being a goalie is that as soon as you win one game, you're onto the next, and right now I'm thinking about the opponents for next week."

Washington 12, Edmonton 11

The Washington Stealth are headed back to the West Division Final for the third time in four years after a thrilling 12-11 comeback home win over the Edmonton Rush in their first-round playoff game at Comcast Arena on Saturday night.

Down 4-0 after the first quarter, 6-0 early in the second quarter and 7-2 at halftime, the Stealth charged back with seven goals in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 10-9 after Mike Grimes scored a buzzer-beater off a Hail Mary pass from goalie Tyler Richards in the final second of the third.

The Stealth used a three-goal run to start the fourth quarter to go up 12-10 before the Rush pulled within one with 5:12 left. WIth both teams calling timeout with possession in the final minute, the final seconds of the game were a mad scramble as Edmonton tried for the equalizer but failed to tie the game after several shots on net.

Stealth forward Rhys Duch, who led the NLL with 45 goals this year, scored four times and finished with six points. Rush forward Corey Small had a team-high six points (3+3) in the losing effort.

Richards finished with 41 saves on 52 shots and was relieved briefly by backup Matt Roik late in the second quarter while Rush goalie Aaron Bold made 36 stops on 48 shots.

The Rush were 9-0 this year when leading after three quarters until their overtime loss to the Calgary Roughnecks last weekend as they again let their lead slip away late.

Minnesota 20, Toronto 11

The Minnesota Swarm, who crossed over to the East Division as the last team in the postseason, upset the top-seeded Toronto Rock with a decisive 20-11 road win in their first-round East Division Semifinal playoff game at Air Canada Centre on Sunday afternoon.

Rock captain Colin Doyle opened the scoring 3:20 into the game but Swarm rookie Kiel Matisz answered 37 seconds later as the teams traded goals in the high-scoring first quarter that ended with Minnesota leading 5-4.

The Swarm went up 9-4 with a four-goal scoring run, including two goals from rookie Shayne Jackson, to open the second quarter and led 10-5 at halftime with goalie Tyler Carlson stopping 32 of Toronto's 37 first-half shots.

Doyle's goal with 1:17 left in the third quarter gave the team some hope, but the Swarm's Josh Gillam deflated any momentum when he scored off a beautiful behind-the-back pass from Jackson with one second left to give Minnesota a 14-8 lead after 45 minutes of play.

With three goals in the first 1:17 of the fourth quarter, including transition player Jordan MacIntosh's fourth goal, Jackson's fourth and Matisz's third tally, the Swarm took a commanding 17-8 lead. As tempers flared with the score getting out of reach, Minnesota scored three more times on the power play to secure the 20-11 win.

The Swarm used a balanced scoring attack as Callum Crawford, the team's leading scorer during the regular season, was held without a goal but did add six assists. Ryan Benesch had a game-high nine points (3+6) for Minnesota while Doyle (3+2) and Garrett Billings (0+5) both had a team-high five points in the Toronto loss.

Swarm transition player Andrew Watt suffered a lower-body injury in the third quarter. Minnesota's head coach Joe Sullivan did some pre-game trickery by circling Evan Kirk as the starter while it was Carlson who started between the pipes, played the entire game and finished with 54 saves on 65 shots.

Minnesota will travel to take on the defending champion Rochester Knighthawks next weekend at the Blue Cross Arena on Saturday, May 4 at 4 p.m. ET for the East Division Final, with the winner advancing to the 2013 NLL Championship Game. Watch the game live exclusively on CBS Sports Network.


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