Friday night’s most entertaining game took place in Canada’s Atlantic Time Zone, with the visiting Philadelphia Wings taking down the hometown Halifax Thunderbirds 16-15 in overtime, in front of 9,857 fans at Scotiabank Centre. The night will be remembered for many years to come courtesy of Wings stalwart Joe Resetarits setting the record for most career points by an American born player. The Hamburg, New York native celebrated the achievement by notching one goal and six assists, including the game-winning helper.
Halifax took a 10-6 lead into the half, in the wake of a Randy Staats score with just two seconds remaining in the second quarter. After retaking a 15-13 lead, midway through the fourth, the Thunderbirds watched the Wings tie things at 15-15, with Philadelphia celebrating a dramatic victory 2:56 into OT, off the stick of Jack Jasinski.
Ryan Benesch achieved a sock trip for Halifax, posting six goals and two assists, while Wings star Mitch Jones added four goals and four assists to the score sheet in leading his club to victory. Wings defender Alex Pace, a Halifax native, scored a beauty transition goal in front of his friends and family.
With just shy of 17,000 rabid Banditland fans screaming at the top of their lungs, the Georgia Swarm walked out of downtown Buffalo with an impressive 9-8 win over the defending champion Bandits. The iconic Lyle Thompson registered a hat trick, with a 3-goal, 1-assist performance, while his former MVP teammate Shayne Jackson reached even higher, posting four goals and two assists in the road triumph. Georgia found themselves down 7-5 in the fourth quarter before connecting on four consecutive goals, flipping the score to 9-7. A late Tehoka Nanticoke goal was not enough to complete the comeback for Buffalo, as Georgia held on for the 9-8 win.
On the champs side of the equation, the great Dhane Smith connected on a whopping seven assists, including a dazzling behind-the-back display off the stick of Kyle Buchanan. Josh Byrne and Chase Fraser were each responsible for two goals and two assists, but it was not quite enough against the uber-talented team from suburban Atlanta.
After a disappointing 2022-2023 campaign, the Swarm have opened this season at a much improved 3-1 clip.
With rain showers, a cold breeze and high surf warnings running rampant throughout Southern California, it was more than fitting that the Seals and Knighthawks treated the San Diego fans to hat, after hat, after hat during Friday’s 17-14 Seals conquest at Pechanga Arena.
Wesley Berg tallied three goals and six assists, with Austin Staats going for three goals and five assists and Curtis Dickson doing his part with three goals and one assist.
Hats off to fellow San Diego scorers Dane Dobbie and Tre Leclaire who scored two goals and six and five assists, respectively.
Ryan Smith, Connor Fields and Thomas McConvey combined for nine goals for Rochester.
The Seals scored six goals in the second quarter and never really looked back.
SAN DIEGO – DECEMBER 29, 2023
The Rock and Riptide Are Moving In Opposite Directions
Downtown Hamilton was the setting for a late Saturday afternoon clash between the Toronto Rock and New York Riptide. And to say the least, the Rock absolutely dominated this one, cruising to a 14-8 victory. Toronto jumped out to an 8-1 lead, with the matchup not getting within four goals for the remainder of the contest. Dan Craig posted four goals and two assists, with Corey Small adding three goals and one assist. Remarkably, Small has now amassed 17 total goals in only five games versus New York. Newcomers Chris Boushy and Mark Matthews combined for eight assists for the still undefeated Rock.
Jeff Teat assembled his best game of the young season, tallying a three-goal, three-assist effort in defeat. Connor Kearnan and Larson Sundown combined for eight total points, but that was far from what was needed to keep up with the Rock.
9,566 fans watched the Riptide fall to a very disappointing 0-3.
13,405 lacrosse fans jammed the WestJet Field at Scotiabank Saddledome, with the partisan crowd leaving the building in a very good mood, thanks to the hometown Roughnecks 17-11 triumph over the Las Vegas Desert Dogs. Jesse King led the way for Calgary, totaling a whopping nine points (3 goals, 6 assists), while teammate Haiden Dickson chipped in four goals and one assist. Tyler Pace assisted on five of his team’s 17 scores. The Roughnecks scored six consecutive goals in the second and third quarters, separating themselves after what had been an early see-saw battle.
The story of the night on the Las Vegas side involved Casey Jackson opening the scoring with his 100th career goal, amid finishing the evening with a hat trick, to go along with one assist.
Jack Hannah and Rob Hellyer found the net on two occasions each, but the game was never close as Las Vegas never got within four goals in the second half of action.
CALGARY, AB – DECEMBER 30, 2023: Las Vegas Desert Dogs versus the Calgary Roughnecks at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night (Photo by Angela Burger/Calgary Roughnecks).
Mammoth Stun The Warriors In OT
The most shocking outcome of Saturday’s NLL action occurred at Ball Arena where the visiting Vancouver Warriors jumped out to 5-0 and 11-5 leads, only to lose to the Mammoth 12-11 in overtime, in front of 9,743 Denver diehards.
Early on, the game completely belonged to Kevin Crowley, who scored an outrageous five first-half goals. Teammate Adam Charalambides netted his own first-half hat trick, in what looked to be a Vancouver runaway. But, after scoring their 11th goal late in the second quarter, the Warriors did not celebrate another goal for the rest of the game.
Over the second half, Colorado connected on six consecutive scores, tying the game 11-11 and sending the festivities into overtime. In the OT session, Mammoth goalie Tyler Carlson (in for Dillon Ward, pulled early in this one) stood tall on a breakaway attempt, only to let in what appeared to be the winning goal courtesy of Keegan Bal just a couple minutes later. In what amounted to a Mammoth miracle, the apparent game-winner was overturned after an official’s review, setting the stage for Connor Robinson to win the game for Colorado, his fourth goal of the contest.
What an absolute classic in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains!
The final NLL game of 2023 transpired on Co-op Field at SaskTel Centre and what a way to usher in 2024. The Albany FireWolves remain the biggest surprise of the season, moving to 4-0, after surviving a furious Saskatchewan Rush comeback and walking away with an 11-10 OT victory.
Albany looked to be in complete control, holding a 10-6 lead late in the third quarter. Spurred by Ryan Keenan’s two fourth quarter goals, Saskatchewan mustered four consecutive scores, tying the game at 10-10 and sending the new year’s party to overtime. Then, just 55 seconds into OT, Ethan Walker connected on his third goal of the game, sealing the win for the league leading FireWolves.
Walker’s evening included three goals and three assists, with teammate Alex Simmons one-upping him when totaling three goals and four assists. The Walker-Simmons pair now claims a combined 23 goals for the season. In defeat, the red-hot Zach Manns kept his sizzling ways going collecting his own three-goal, three-assist donation, with the aforementioned Keenan also owning a hat trick.
As the NLL universe turns the page towards 2024, the play of the Albany FireWolves continues to be the most improbable happening of the early season.
The Saskatchewan Rush host the Albany FireWolves in Pre-season action at Sasktel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, December 31, 2023
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