All nine NLL teams played in Week #9 while retired Roughnecks legend Kaleb Toth's #9 was also honored. (Photo: Brad Watson)
All nine teams played in Week #9 of the 2013 NLL regular season while retired Roughnecks legend Kaleb Toth's number nine jersey was on full display this past weekend. The Buffalo Bandits were the only team to play twice and they got off to a good start on Thursday night with a 15-13 road win over the Toronto Rock.
Despite strong performances from Bandits forwards John Tavares and Shawn Williams, it was transition player Jay Thorimbert who stole the show with two goals and 17 loose balls while going 25-for-31 (81%) on faceoffs.
“Jay was unbelievable,” Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour told the Buffalo News. “He won almost every faceoff, he scored two goals. When he plays like that, it gives us a big, big advantage.”
“That’s probably the best game I’ve ever seen [Thorimbert] play," Tavares added.
Toronto led 11-8 entering the fourth quarter but Buffalo scored five unanswered goals in a little over six minutes to take a 13-11 lead and eventually held on for the win.
“We were awful tonight, every aspect of the game,” Rock head coach Troy Cordingley told the Toronto Star. We were outworked. We were outwilled. Loose ball retrieval was terrible. We didn’t get the saves when we needed them. We’ve had some good lacrosse up to now and I guess it was time for a stinker.”
The following night, the Bandits were close to tying the Rock atop the league standings, but Philadelphia Wings transition player Jordan Hall tied the game with 3.7 seconds left in regulation before forward Drew Westervelt scored the game-winner for the 11-10 overtime win.
Down 10-7 with less than six minutes left, the Wings scored four unanswered goals to earn the comeback win and pass the Bandits in the East Division standings.
"We’ve got a good mix of leaders on this club that, when we’re in those predicaments, they’re working really, really hard," Mouradian told Philly.com. "[They] show the type of effort and mental stability in order to keep everybody on track. Our leaders stay composed and that’s real important when we get behind.”
Buffalo settled for a back-to-back weekend split and showed how difficult it is to win in this league, much less twice.
“There’s a lot of parity in this league,” Bandits forward John Tavares told the Buffalo News. “No one will go 14-2 this year. You can go from first to last in no time."
After a 1-4 start to the season, the Edmonton Rush got back to .500 with an 18-13 road win over the Calgary Roughnecks to snap a 12-game regular season losing streak to their Alberta rival.
“Enough was enough,” Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan told the Edmonton Sun. “Our guys were well prepared and we were due. It’s been a tough road. I hope we got over that hump mentally. It was just a mental hurdle."
Edmonton spoiled "Kaleb Toth night" as Calgary's retired lacrosse legend was honored with the "Forever a Roughneck" distinction in an emotional pregame ceremony.
““I would like to say we would have gone as far in 10 years without him but I don’t think that’s true,” former Roughnecks owner Brad Banister told the Calgary Sun. "We’ve traveled a lot of miles together and had a lot of tears together. This is an emotional night."
Maybe Calgary poured out all their emotions before the game because Roughnecks captain Andrew McBride said he didn't see too much of it after Toth's banner was raised and the ball finally dropped.
“We have to do the small things, like running hard to the bench and showing emotion when someone does something positive,” McBride told the Calgary Sun. “Maybe we didn’t have emotion, but those are excuses.”
No one was making excuses for the letdown, but Calgary's head coach Curt Malawsky did mention the often-referenced "P" word.
"The parity in this league is amazing," Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky told the Calgary Herald. "You're not going to run a 12-4, 11-5 season. Not to say that we couldn't, but it's real tough."
The Rochester Knighthawks continued their up-and-down season with a 12-11 road win against the Colorado Mammoth in a battle of two teams at the bottom of their respective divisions.
“We needed that one and I think we played like it,” Jamieson told NLL.com. “We played desperate, and that’s kind of how we got to play the rest of the year. We had a bad, bad first half but we’re looking to turn the ship around in the second half.”
Colorado has been most-hindered by their goaltending this season, but that wasn't the case this past weekend. Mammoth goalie Dan Lewis stepped up in his first career start by making 28 saves on 40 shots in a complete game, only the second time a Colorado netminder played a full 60 minutes this season.
“A young guy going in there thrown in the fire,” said Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley. “He gave us a chance, that’s what you ask your goaltenders to do, give you a chance.”
To wrap up the four-night stretch of NLL action, the Washington Stealth gained some breathing room in the West Division with a 13-8 home win over the Minnesota Swarm on Sunday.
Stealth forward Athan Iannucci, who set the NLL single-season record with 71 goals in 2008, scored a natural hat trick in a 3:20 span in the second quarter and finished with four goals.
"That's what I expect from myself every game if possible," Iannucci told the Everett Herald. "I've been feeling good. I feel like I've been developing a good chemistry with [Rhys Duch] and some of the other guys on the offensive side too, so yeah, it feels good."
Washington's goaltender Tyler Richards continued his MVP-like play this season with 43 saves on 51 shots for an .843 save percentage. After a Minnesota player dove into the crease, Richards was penalized for mixing it up with his opponent for the second-straight week.
"I kind of take it personal when guys are diving at my knees," Richards told the Everett Herald. "It's my livelihood on the line and sometimes I get a little fired up when guys dive through and don't really make the effort to avoid me."