Both Game 1’s of the NLL Division Finals came down to the wire as the Edmonton Rush pulled away from the Calgary Roughnecks in the final minutes out West on Friday before the Rochester Knighthawks did the same in the East with a last-minute goal to topple the Toronto Rock on Saturday. Which players came through in the clutch as teams vie for the right to raise the Champion’s Cup? Preview Stephen Stamp’s Three Stars of the Division Finals – Game 1 below and find the full story on IL Indoor.
“Losing a star player early in a playoff game can be a crippling blow to a team, especially when the player is someone as integral to what a team does on offense as Cody Jamieson is with the Rochester Knighthawks,” Stamp writes on IL Indoor. “So when Jammer buckled to the turf with no one around him in the first quarter of the first game of Rochester’s National Lacrosse League East Division final against Toronto Saturday, it didn’t look good for the home team.”
“But the Knighthawks didn’t appear to miss a beat thanks to the seamless transition of Brad Self from the back door to the front door. With Jamieson hobbling about on crutches with an ice pack taped to his ankle, Self led Rochester in scoring and put them in position to earn a one-goal win on Dan Dawson’s spectacular last-minute goal. Self’s performance was clutch playoff lacrosse at its finest and left little doubt who this week’s IL Indoor NLL first star would be. Scroll down to see the whole list of the top performers from an exciting weekend of playoff action.”
Brad Self, Rochester Knighthawks
3 goals, 3 assists, 16 loose balls, 2 caused turnovers
Self already had a goal using his speed to break away from the pack to race in and connect past Brandon Miller before he took on Jamieson’s role in the Rochester offence. Alright, no one can really take on Jamieson’s role, but Self filled Jammer’s spot admirably. At any rate, Self just kept producing, scoring on a pair of nice overhand shots in the offensive set and facilitating a trio of other goals.
Beyond his offensive performance, Self also had twice as many loose balls as any other player over the weekend and caused a pair of turnovers. It was a sensational game, not necessarily easy to reproduce. But if Jamieson’s injury turns out to be serious and causes him to miss more games, Rochester will need either Self or someone else to step up if they wish to continue their push for the four-peat.
Brett Hickey, Toronto Rock
3 goals, 3 assists
Hickey had a breakout season, definitively establishing himself as a bona fide NLL player on the strength of the first 50-goal season in Rock history. He has not, however, made a name for himself as a passer. Well, that may be changing. Among the 3 assists he put up Saturday was a gorgeous cross-crease feed when everyone in the arena must have thought he was shooting that turned in to a quick-stick tap-in for Stephan Leblanc. No one’s going to mistake Hickey for Josh Sanderson, but the precision of that pass would have done Shooter proud.
Shawn Evans (Calgary): 1g, 4a. Speaking of passing, Evans made some of his trademark touch passes en route to a 5-point night…Dan Dawson(Rochester): 1g, 1a. While as he said in a post-game interview he felt like a passenger for much of the game, Dawson couldn’t have picked a better time to get his only goal than with 36 seconds left to provide the margin of victory. And what a goal! If you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out, it’s a beauty…Brandon Miller (Toronto): 47/57, .825 save percentage. There’s always a goal or two a goalie would like back, but Miller was steady and gave the Rock a chance to win a game in which they were outshot 57-44…Craig Point (Rochester): 3g, 1a. Doesn’t garner a lot of attention but scores big goals for the Knighthawks…Zack Greer (Edmonton): 3g, 1a. Has been a remarkably consistent scorer for the Rush this…