Chris Levis of the Colorado Mammoth faces a shot from John Tavares of the Buffalo Bandits in Saturday's All-Star game. (Photo Credit: Bill Wippert)
Some of the world’s best lacrosse players took part in the 2012 NLL All-Star game on Saturday night at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
Offensive stars like the legendary John Tavares from the Buffalo Bandits and John Grant, Jr. from the Colorado Mammoth put on a show with acrobatic shots and behind-the-back passes during a 20-18 win by the West Division.
That also meant goaltenders on both sides had to try stopping a lot of rubber, upwards of 70 shots in this contest.
“In an All-Star game it’s pretty tough. The goalies take a pounding,” said West head coach Chris Hall of the Washington Stealth. “All the players and even the coaches feel sorry for the goalies in all-star games. It’s tough because a lot of the shots are naked chances.”
Chris Levis of the Colorado Mammoth made his second consecutive appearance in the net for the West, stopped 28 of 39 shots. To his credit, he blanked the East over the final 6:46 of the first half before giving way to Aaron Bold of the Edmonton Rush.
Mike Thompson of the host Buffalo Bandits limited the West to only two goals in the first quarter. He finished with 26 saves and allowed only eight shots to get past him.
“I thought Mikey Thompson was real good … I felt sorry for Chris Levis because we took it to him early,” said East head coach Troy Cordingley of the Toronto Rock. “They face a lot of shots obviously. They’re tough shots because they have the best shooters in the league shooting all of them. That’s the toughest spot, but they chose to play that position.”
In the second half, action picked up for the guys in the crease.
Matt Roik, who plays for Cordingley on the Rock, left the crease twice in the third quarter to take shots at some West scorers. After Andrew Suitor of the Minnesota Swarm buried a goal with 1:15 left, Roik gave him an extra shove. Then All-Star Most Valuable Player Geoff Snider of the Calgary Roughnecks was laid out on his back after finding the back of the net.
“He was just letting me know he was there and acknowledging my presence. Guys were laughing on the bench,” said Snider, who had four goals. “He’s a great goalie. He’s stepping up in Toronto. There’s a reason why he’s here. He’s a competitor. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Matt.”
“I think I accidentally just got him,” Roik said jokingly. He faced 40 shots, finishing with 28 saves.
Bold played between the pipes for the West in the second half, making his first All-Star appearance in his first season as a full-time goaltender. He helped the West take over the game in the second half by allowing only seven goals, the fewest among the four All-Star netminders.
“It’s always good having those come-from-behind victories. It’s always hard to play with the lead. I kind of like playing with a disadvantage,” said Bold, who made 23 saves while earning the win.
In a game not usually know for hits, Bold was on the receiving end of the biggest hit of the game in the fourth quarter. When Bold left the crease to chase a loose ball, Wiles knocked Bold into the boards.
“I think putting [Bold] on his rear end,” Wiles said when asked about his favorite moment of the game. “I played with him for a lot of years, so it was nice to put him on his butt.”
“He just hit me. I was off balance more than anything,” Bold added with a laugh.