The 2015 NLL Playoffs opened up with two first-round battles as the Rochester Knighthawks defeated the Buffalo Bandits 14-11 to advance to the NLL East Finals against the Toronto Rock while the Calgary Roughnecks took down the Colorado Mammoth on the road 11-6 to set up a West Finals rematch with the Edmonton Rush. Which players came through in the single-elimination round when their teams needed them the most? Preview Stephen Stamp’s Three Stars of the Division Semifinals below and find the full story on IL Indoor.
“In three previous seasons in the National Lacrosse League, Frankie Scigliano had played a grand total of 336 minutes: the equivalent of five and a half games,” Stamp writes. “Because he was drafted when he was still in junior, the big man is still just 23 years old. So he wasn’t exactly a seasoned veteran when he stepped in to take over from a struggling Mike Poulin early in the season. Scigliano didn’t exactly shine, so Poulin stepped back in but still couldn’t find his form.”
“It became clear that if the underperforming Calgary Roughnecks were going to find a way to put together enough wins to overcome their early hole and make the playoffs, Scigliano was going to have to lead them there. And he stepped up. Scigliano gave up fewer than 10 goals in four different starts down the stretch, including a huge 9-8 win over Edmonton on April 10.”
“His biggest test yet would be his first playoff game, Saturday against Colorado. Again, Scigliano stepped up, playing spectacularly to lead Calgary to an 11-6 win over the Mammoth. That performance makes him the first star or the NLL division semifinals weekend; an unlikely pick early in the season but a clear one after he held Colorado at bay despite heavy pressure in a first half that saw Calgary emerge with a 7-3 lead and control of the game. Scroll down to see more about Scigliano and the test of the weekend’s top performers.”
Frankie Scigliano, Calgary Roughnecks
45 saves on 51 shots, .882 save percentage
After the first quarter of Saturday’s game, Calgary held a slim 2-1 lead. In the second quarter, each team took 15 shots; both had high quality scoring chances among them. At the 12:45 mark, Scigliano had turned aside all but two of those shots, several on breakaways or other tough situations while Dillon Ward was being pulled after Calgary had scored five times, three of them including the last one by Shawn Evans. That quarter was the crucial difference in the game and Scigliano was outstanding. He played well the rest of the game, too, but it was in that 15 minutes that he really earned his stripes.
Joe Resetarits, Rochester Knighthawks
The story is well known by now and it’s a classic. Joe Resetarits grew up in Hamburg, NY, a suburb of Buffalo and just minutes away from Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Bills play home games. He’s a Buffalo kid who grew up and got a chance to play for his home town team when the Bandits made a trade with Calgary to acquire him. He scored 25 goals his first year in Buffalo (2014) but things weren’t really clicking for him this season. So the Bandits shipped him to Rochester at the trade deadline. Cue the hollywood ending: the Bandits and Knighthawks meet in the playoffs for the first time since the trade and Resetarits plays a key role in knocking out his former team with 4 goals.
Shawn Evans (Calgary): 3g, 2a. Evans loved setting the season points and assists records but what he really wants is another Champions Cup ring and he helped his team keep that dream alive with another sterling performance in the opening round of the playoffs…Cody Jamieson(Rochester): 2g, 7a. Maybe he should have been first star of the Rochester/Buffalo game and third star here ahead of Resetarits, but the story was just too perfect. Still, a big game for Jammer when it counts most: hardly surprising…Alex Buque (Colorado): 19/23, .826 save percentage. Held the fort and gave the Mammoth a chance to get back into the game had their offence been clicking…Dan MacRae (Calgary): 2a, 5LB, 5CTO. He was a leading force in arguably Calgary’s best defensive effort of the year…Jordan Hall (Rochester): 3g, 1a…
Click here for Second Star and full list of honorable mentions for Three Stars of NLL Division Semifinals by Stephen Stamp on IL Indoor.