Geoff Snider (4) of the Calgary Roughnecks scored four goals and was named MVP of the 2012 NLL All-Star game Saturday. (Photo Credit: Bill Wippert)
Geoff Snider receiving his All-Star MVP award from NLL Commissioner George Daniel.
It took six years to the day for the West Division to walk off the field of an All-Star game as winners.
The West snapped a four-game losing streak in All-Star play by overcoming a slow start to beat the East 20-18 on Saturday night before a crowd of 13,466 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
Calgary Roughnecks transition player Geoff Snider led the West with four goals and two assists to earn his second All-Star game MVP award. Three of his goals came in the second half while the West mounted a comeback
“It’s great any time you get to come out and represent the NLL in the All-Star game,” Snider said. “It’s incredibly flattering and it’s an honor to be out here with the best lacrosse players in the world and just a bunch of awesome guys, so I’m really proud to be part of it.”
Snider also dominated at the faceoff dot, winning 22 of 26 draws.
“Max (Seibald of the Philadelphia Wings) is such an incredible athlete and they were putting him up against me and if you don’t try your hardest, you’re not going to win the faceoff,” Snider said. “You’ve got to step up or he’s going to eat you up.”
While All-Star games recent years have been largely focused on offense, the 2012 edition featured strong defensive play, particularly from goaltenders Mike Thompson of the host Buffalo Bandits and Aaron Bold of the Edmonton Rush.
Thompson, who started and played the first half, stopped 30 of 38 shots. He’s also in the uncomfortable position of fighting for his own job as the Bandits recently acquired veteran Anthony Cosmo in a trade with the Minnesota Swarm.
Thompson’s strong play was not lost on Bandits teammate Luke Wiles.
“Mikey played great,” Wiles said. “He’s really making a run for the starting spot there next week, I think. That’s good so there will be a tight race between him and (Cosmo) to see who gets the starting spot.”
Wiles led the East with three goals and also added an assist. He brought the home fans to their feet on several occasions, particularly in the fourth quarter after checking Bold hard into the boards.
Asked which was more thrilling, Wiles responded, “I think putting [Bold] on his rear end. I played with him for a lot of years, so it was nice to put him on his butt.”
The East had their legs going early, taking advantage of a sluggish West squad and jumping out to a 9-2 lead 2:44 into the second quarter, when Wiles completed his hat trick.
The West shook off the cobwebs and found their rhythm, however, going on a 6-2 run to close out the first half trailing 11-8.
In the second half, the West continued their strong play, tying the game at 15 with just 0.2 seconds left in the third quarter on a goal by Minnesota rookie Jordan MacIntosh, who played college lacrosse at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
MacIntosh’s marker, one of three he had as part of a four-point night, was also part of a five-goal run that spanned the third and fourth quarters and ultimately put the West on top for good.
Other strong offensive performances for the West came from Colorado Mammoth teammates Gavin Prout (four goals) and rookie Adam Jones (goal, four assists).
This was something of a homecoming for Jones who played his college lacrosse in Buffalo for Canisius.
“Coming back to Buffalo was definitely the experience I’ve been waiting for,” Jones said. “I thought it was going to be on [March] third (when the Mammoth face the Bandits), but fortunately I got selected to come here tonight.
“I had a lot of friends and family here so this is definitely something I’m going to look back on in future years to come and be happy about it.”
Dan Dawson of the Philadelphia Wings (goal, six assists), Mike Accursi of the Rochester Knighthawks (two goals, three assists) and Garrett Billings of the Toronto Rock (goal, four assists) carried much of the offensive load for the East.
Making a record 10th All-Star appearance, Bandits legend John Tavares had two goals and two assists.
“It was great being selected to the All-Star game and it was extra special playing in front of our home fans and being the captain of the team,” said Tavares, the league’s all-time leading scorer. “I have played the most seasons, so it’s only fitting that I have the most All-Star games.”
The coaches tend not to be too active during the All-Star games, but West head coach Chris Hall of the Washington Stealth got involved by throwing a challenge flag in the opening minute of the fourth quarter after Colorado’s John Grant Jr. literally fired the ball through the back of the net.
That goal gave the West their first lead of the game at 16-15.
East head coach Troy Cordingley of Toronto said a game like this is almost like having a night off.
“I just sit and watch. It’s the best seat in the house and you get to sit and watch guys that we don’t get to coach or have coached in previous years and you get to know them a little bit. Little things like that, it’s fun,” he said.