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Weekend recap: Never say never

02/25/2013, 4:45pm EST
By Jeff Baker for NLL.com

Comebacks highlight Week #8, Wings win back-to-back, K-Hawks don't need 'heroes', Rush and Swarm play back-and-forth home-and-home, Stealth hold on after late mistake


Teams trailing after the first quarter came back to win in four of the five games during Week #8 of the NLL regular season.

Comebacks, some of which came up just short, were the highlight of Week #8 of the NLL regular season. Teams have to play a full 60 minutes to win, evidenced by the fact that the team trailing after the first quarter came back to win four of the five games this past weekend.

The Wings, who started the season 2-0 before dropping three straight games, earned back-to-back wins to get their record back above .500.

"What a difference a couple weeks make," Wings general manager and head coach Johnny Mouradian told Philly.com. "We are a very committed group right now."

Down 5-3 to the Colorado Mammoth on Sunday after the first quarter, Philadelphia scored six second-quarter goals and led the rest of the way en route to a 14-12 victory.

"We stayed positive and realized that it was a 60-minute game," said Wings forward Kevin Ross. "It doesn't matter if you're down in the first quarter, you have to stay focused, and I think that's what we did."

The night before, the Wings snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Rochester Knighthawks with a 10-8 road win. Trailing 4-0 early on, Philadelphia eventually got revenge for their 20-10 loss to the Knighthawks in their previous meeting by outscoring them 8-2 during the middle two quarters.

“Go back to last year, they beat us three times in the regular season and once in the playoffs, so we were kind of due,” Wings goalie Brandon Miller told the Rochester D&C. “The one they had against us a couple weeks ago, that was pretty ugly and embarrassing so it was nice to come into their barn and return the favor.”

Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen said that his players are trying to do too much on their own when their opponents have the momentum.

“It’s guys trying to be heroes,” Hasen said. “When things start going a little sideways and the pressure’s on, it’s guys saying, ‘I’m going to fix this for us, I’ll get the goal to settle us back down.’ Just guys being selfish. We don’t have heroes, we have a team and we have to play as a team.”

The visiting team won both games in the weekend home-and-home series between the Edmonton Rush and Minnesota Swarm, with the Swarm taking the first game on Friday night by a score of 13-8. Despite losing captain Andrew Suitor to a season-ending knee injury, Minnesota dominated the second half by outscoring Edmonton 7-2.

“They were hooting and hollering on our floor and that’s unacceptable," Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan told the Edmonton Sun. "We’ve got to be ready on Sunday.”

And ready they were. In Minnesota, the Rush jumped out a 5-0 lead after the first quarter and eventually found themselves up 11-1 early in the fourth quarter.

“[Our defense’s] momentum pushes onto us when they’re playing as well as they did in the first quarter,” Rush rookie Mark Matthews told the Edmonton Journal. “It really gives us a chance to go out like we did today and get out 5-0 and stomp on their throats right there off the hop.”

But someone must have reminded the Swarm that is the NLL, where leads change as quickly as players getting on and off the bench. The only thing more surprising than being held without a goal for over 37 minutes to start the game was the fact that Minnesota scored six unanswered goals in the fourth quarter.

They pulled as close as 11-7, but the early hole proved to be too much to overcome in the 14-9 loss.

“I think that was one of the worst first halves we’ve ever played,” Swarm forward Ryan Benesch told NLL.com. “We were all awful.”

The Rush won't return home until April 6 as they play four more consecutive games on the road, starting with a trip to Calgary next weekend to try and snap a 12-game losing streak to the Roughnecks.

“We really need to turn that series around,” Keenan told the Sun. “We’ve been playing really well on the road, which is a good sign moving forward.”

Calgary fell 16-14 to the Washington Stealth on Saturday night but almost pulled off an incredible comeback after Stealth goalie Tyler Richards was forced to serve a five-minute major penalty. Down 12-6 after 45 minutes of play, the Roughnecks tied the game at 13-13 less than nine minutes later.

"Less than a minute of a little bit of a meltdown and losing focus and, bingo, you find yourself in big trouble in this league," Stealth head coach Chris Hall told the Everett Herald.

Backup goalie Nick Patterson had to come in cold with Richards in the penalty box and allowed five goals on just 11 shots.

"I let the emotions get the better of me for one second and almost cost us the game," Richards said. "Luckily our boys responded and put together a few goals in the last five minutes and we came out with it."

Teams need to learn how to play with a lead but also have the confidence to come back when they're down. Because once the playoffs start, there is no tomorrow if you lose. After all, the Knighthawks were down 5-1 to the Rush at halftime of the 2012 Championship Game before coming back for a 9-6 win.

The NLL keeps fans on their edge of their seats, but they should never leave them until the final buzzer. Because if we've learned anything, it's "never say never" in this league.

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Tag(s): Home  Philadelphia Wings  Rochester Knighthawks  Calgary Roughnecks  Colorado Mammoth  Edmonton Rush  Minnesota Swarm  Washington Stealth