The Vancouver Warriors need to win their remaining three games if they want to have a chance to clinch an NLL Playoff spot. On Sunday afternoon, the Warriors completed phase one of that goal by defeating the Philadelphia Wings 19-12 in Rogers Arena.
After allowing a goal in front of the crease within the opening seconds of the game, the Warriors quickly regrouped and then rattled off nine straight goals, all of which came in the first quarter. The nine goals was the most they have scored in any period in franchise history and put them on pace for an NLL record 36 tallies potentially passing the defunct Montreal Express record of 32 set in 2001.
The Warriors weren’t able to keep their early pace going, but they did hold a 13-2 lead early in the third quarter. After that 13th goal for the home side, however, the Wings woke up and outscored the Warriors 10-6 the rest of the match.
Despite the Wings comeback attempt, there was just too much fire power on offence from the Warriors to steal a win on the road.
Keegan Bal was one of four Warriors forwards that had at least eight points on the day. Jordan McBride tallied eight points, Logan Schuss had nine, Mitch Jones put up 10 and Bal had 14, an NLL-best this season.
Warriors head coach Chris Gill was happy to see this type of production across the board from his attackers and hope they can continue to build off this game’s success for their last two contests.
“We have to keep building,” said Gill. “A little confidence here might go a long way with everyone on the offensive end. We’re not going to change a whole lot here, but maybe that was the monkey we needed to get off our back.”
While the Warriors offence was remarkable, they needed great goaltending to pull out a win on Sunday. Warriors netminder Aaron Bold set a career-high of 61 saves on the evening including 34 in the second half and faced a total of 73 shots.
On the opposing bench, Kiel Matisz picked up his 400th career point early in the third quarter and continues to raise his career-highs in points (77) and assists (53).
And at the face-off X, Trevor Baptiste won his 18th face-off of the game in the third quarter to give him 320 face-off draws won this season which is the second-most in NLL history passing Bob Snider’s 319 recorded in 2012. He finished the night with a remarkable record of 30-34 at the dot and now has 332 face-off wins heading into his final game of the season. Baptiste only needs seven face-off wins to become the record-holder for most wins in a season set back in 2015 by Jay Thorimbert (338).
This weekend’s win for the Warriors kept them in the playoff conversation for another week. They still need to win both of their remaining games against the Rochester Knighthawks and Toronto Rock and have the Colorado Mammoth lose both of their games against the San Diego Seals and Saskatchewan Rush to clinch a playoff berth. No one in the Warriors locker room is giving up hope, even if the odds are against them.
“We definitely still have a chance,” said Bold. “If you’re doubting us, I say, ‘bring it on.’ We’ll definitely use that to fuel our fire.”
The formula should be very simple, especially after the type of result they had today. Bal remarked that the team has no plans of changing its mentality and will approach each of their games like it’s a playoff game.
“[We’re approaching it] like a playoff game,” said Bal. “That’s how we approached this game and that’s what we’ll do the rest of the season.”
The Warriors next game will be next Saturday on the road to face the Rochester Knighthawks at 7:30 pm EST.