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Stories/Op-Ed

Three Stars: Nll Champion’S Cup Finals – Game 1

All season long, Stephen Stamp from IL Indoor has been highlighting the top weekly player performances from around the National Lacrosse League. With the 2015 NLL Champion’s Cup Finals now underway, the spotlight shines brighter than ever on the turf. Which players lit up the scoresheet in the Edmonton Rush’s 15-9 win over Toronto Rock in the series opener? Preview Stamp’s Three Stars of Game 1 below and find the full rundown on IL Indoor.

“The Edmonton Rush ran away with Game 1 of the best of three Champions Cup Finals, so it should come as no surprise that they have run away with all three of IL Indoor’s NLL 3 Stars this week, as well,” Stamp writes. “There were plenty of candidates for the laurels all over the floor for the Rush; I’ve wound up selecting one from each phase of the game to be honored. Scroll down to see how the 3 Stars plays out and who earned honorable mentions.”

First Star
Aaron Bold, Edmonton Rush
39 saves on 48 shots, .813 save percentage
Bold was very good throughout the game, but he was great when the Rush needed him most—in the second quarter. While he only made 10 saves in the quarter, Toronto probably had almost as many high-quality scoring chances in that quarter as in the rest of the game combined. After Edmonton had scored six straight goals to take a 6-2 lead, Toronto came back with a pair and applied a ton of pressure to try to come all the way back into the game. Bold turned aside breakaways and some open looks when the Rock were able to take advantage of rare cracks in the Rush defensive and reverse transition games. When the Rock did pick some spots and scored four times in the third quarter, Bold showed his resiliency in bouncing back to hold them to a single goal in the fourth when the Rush offence had built on the opportunity he gave them to produce an insurmountable lead.

Second Star
Mark Matthews, Edmonton Rush
3 goals, 3 assists
Matthews put on a shooting clinic with his classic overhand delivery Saturday. His three goals were all simply beautiful shots to precise locations. What really clinched his second star credentials for me, though, was the pass he made to Zack Greer for Edmonton’s 12th goal. In the final minute of the third quarter, Toronto was pushing to come back and had closed the lead to three. The next goal would be a big one, especially if someone could notch it before the quarter ended. Matthews had the ball outside the restraining line and was surveying the floor in front of him. When Greer cut to the net, he was unable to create separation from a defender who stuck to him like glue. He was, however, able to extend his stick to give Matthews a tiny window to pass into. Matthews lasered a pass in with perfect timing and precision, allowing Greer to catch the ball in full flight and make an athletic play to bury the goal. That was effectively the end of Toronto’s comeback hopes.

Honorable Mentions
Robert Church (Edmonton): 3g, 3a. Don’t underestimate Church’s importance to his team’s offense, even if he doesn’t play with a lot of flash. The second-year forward scored a quiet 92 points in the regular season. He does a lot of things well on the floor…Nick Rose (Toronto): 16/19, .842 save percentage. Brandon Miller has been excellent for Toronto, but he wasn’t on Saturday. Rose stepped in and turned aside most of the Edmonton shots he faced to at least give the Rock a chance at a comeback…Ben McIntosh (Edmonton): 2g, 4a. The whole offense was moving the ball well all night and McIntosh did a nice job of…

Click here for the Third Star and full list of honorable mentions for Three Stars of NLL Champion’s Cup Finals Game 1 by Stephen Stamp on IL Indoor. Photo by Graig Abel.

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