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Buffalo wins Game 2 15-13 to clinch Back-to-Back Titles; Byrne is Finals MVP

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TWO POSTSEASON TICKETS PUNCHED AFTER WEEK 20 TO REMEMBER

All Roads Go Through Hamilton This Postseason

Saturday night, the Toronto Rock clinched home-field throughout the 2024 NLL playoffs thanks to a decisive 13-6 victory over the Rochester Knighthawks. More than 11,000 fans took in the action at FirstOntario Centre, with the beloved home club moving to 14-3 on what has been a joyful season for Rock fans to date. Toronto took off like a rocket ship scoring the game’s first four goals, later cruising into halftime with a very comfortable 10-1 cushion. After dominating the first 30 minutes, the boys in blue took their collective feet off the gas pedal, going scoreless in the third quarter, amid being outscored by the Roughnecks 5-3 in the second 30 minutes of play. But this contest was never really in doubt.

Chris Boushy scored on four occasions, while Corey Small posted three goals and two assists, alongside Challen Rogers and his two scores and three helpers. Not wanting to be left out of the celebration, Mark Matthews added one goal and four assists to the cause. Rock goalie Nick Rose had a stellar night between the pipes, stopping 44 of the 50 shots that came his way.

The normally high-scoring Knighthawks struggled to muster up much of any offense on this night.

 

The Bandits Have Hit Their Stride

Don’t look now but the defending champion Buffalo Bandits are hitting on all cylinders heading into their upcoming title defense. The Bandits clinched a return visit to the postseason in the wake of an impressive 14-7 triumph over the Calgary Roughnecks. Winners of three straight, Buffalo moves to 10-7 on the season, after coming out of the gate perhaps a bit hungover from last season’s championship glory. Buffalo leaped to a 5-0 lead, with Kyle Buchanan chipping in two of the initial five scores. After taking a 9-2 advantage to the locker room, the hosts played even lacrosse with the Roughnecks, not allowing the visitors from Alberta the opportunity to make things interesting.

Chase Fraser scored four goals including a ridiculous behind-the-back spectacle courtesy of a behind-the-back pass off the stick of Josh Byrne, who donated two scores and five helpers of his own. Chris Cloutier went home with a hat trick in his back pocket, while Dhane Smith added six assists to his legendary resume. Tyler Pace scored twice for Calgary, one of which was yet another behind-the-back effort.

19,000 fans jammed KeyBank Center on a rainy night in downtown Buffalo. 

 

The Seals Run Into A Speed Bump In Saskatoon

The San Diego Seals entered Saturday night’s matchup with the Saskatchewan Rush winners of four straight, amid owning the NLL’s second-best record at 12-4. San Diego leaves the SaskTel Centre still sitting number two in the standings, but losers of a 13-8 setback from a Rush squad still vying for a playoff berth. The Seals took an early 2-0 lead only to witness the locals blast nine consecutive goals into the net, flipping a 2-0 discrepancy into a 9-2 third-quarter reward. Zach Manns tallied five goals and two assists, with Ryan Keenan and Clark Walter each adding two scores to the scoreboard. Robert Church and Patrick Dodds combined for six helpers on an evening that left the more than 7,000 fans in attendance wishing the now 8-9 Rush had played this aggressively all season long.

The Seals three-headed monster of Austin Staats, Wesley Berg and Dane Dobbie scored just one goal apiece, though Staats and Berg did collect a total of seven assists. San Diego wraps up the regular season with a home game against the Vancouver Warriors.

 

The Warriors Are A Completely Different Team

After getting off to a horrific start to the season, the Vancouver Warriors are suddenly playing out of this world lacrosse, winning five consecutive games for the first time since their championship season of 2010, when the franchise called the Seattle area home. Saturday night’s battle with the New York Riptide looked to be evenly matched until the British Columbians amassed five straight second quarter goals, allowing the New Yorkers to get no closer than two goals henceforth, en route to a 16-10 conquest. Keegan Bal etched his latest hat trick (along with five assists), establishing a career high of 45 goals on the season. Adam Charalambides scored four goals and four assists, with Ryan Martel notching an even more sterling four scores and five helpers.

Jeff Teat had a typical Jeff Teat extravaganza, scoring three and assisting on three others, leaving Rogers Arena a member of the 50-goal club. Stephen Keogh found the back of the net twice, including his second through-the-legs goal in as many weeks.

More than 11,000 onlookers took in the latest incredible showing from the previous dormant Warriors.

 

The Desert Dogs & Mammoth Are A Prideful Bunch

Despite both franchises having been eliminated from postseason contention, the Las Vegas Desert Dogs and Colorado Mammoth played a highly engaging and dramatic affair at Michelob Ultra Arena, within the walls of the sprawling Mandalay Bay Resort. This was a game of bursts with Las Vegas scoring three uninterrupted in the first, followed by Colorado reaching the net four successive times during the late first and early second stanzas. The seesaw situation continued into the second half where a Mammoth four-goal push (the first score came late second quarter) was followed up by a Desert Dogs five lamplighter, positioning the fellas from the Nevada desert into a 12-11 accomplishment.

Jack Hannah hit the jackpot for the Vegas crew, igniting on four goals including one of the furthest behind-the-back realizations a lacrosse fan will ever see. Hannah’s go-ahead goal, early in the fourth, proved to be the difference in the game.

Coming off a Friday night loss to the Philadelphia Wings, the Mammoth played extremely well in the tough defeat. Connor Kelly had a phenomenal five goals and one assist, while Tyson Gibson secured three scores and four helpers for the 2022 NLL champions.

 

Mammoth Eliminated From Postseason Contention

Friday night’s lone matchup took place in the beautiful city of Denver, where the visiting Wings outlasted the Colorado Mammoth 16-12. The Mammoth loss eradicated the two-time defending conference champions from any hopes of reaching the finals for a third consecutive year. The Wings had already removed themselves from any hope of postseason play, so the guys from America’s birthplace played the role of spoiler when delivering the same fate to the inhabitants of Ball Arena.

The Wings jumped out to a 5-0 first quarter lead, with the Mammoth never getting closer than two goals from that point forward. Four straight fourth-quarter scores sealed the deal for the visitors. Mitch Jones and Ben McIntosh connected on four goals apiece, while Joe Resetarits added three of his own. Connor Kelly and Zed Williams posted hat tricks for the Mammoth side of the mix but in a losing effort.

10,570 fans packed the Loud House for Colorado’s final home game of the season.

 

The FireWolves Are Really Struggling 

Week 20’s final encounter occurred on the western side of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, as the Albany FireWolves made their way in for a showdown with the Panther City Lacrosse Club. Despite taking the field proprietors of a four-game losing streak, the men from New York’s state capital came out extremely flat, falling behind 6-0 and eventually going down in defeat 11-7. The FireWolves still reside in the exclusive 10-win club, but have not won a game in more than a month. PCLC’s half-dozen goal breakout was delivered by Brandon Goodwin, Josh Medeiros and Callum Crawford, with each guy tabulating a pair of the six-pack of scores. Albany went on an impressive second-quarter run to make it 6-4, followed by the Texans boasting of a four-goal, fourth-quarter stretch to seal the 11-7 feat.

The aforementioned Goodwin achieved a hat trick, while the timeless excellence known as Callum Crawford finished with four scores and two helpers. John Piatelli led the FireWolves with two goals, however, the dynamic duo of Alex Simmons and Ethan Walker only found the net on one occasion respectively. 

Panther City stays alive in the chase for postseason glory, departing to Sunday dinner with a record of 9-8. 

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