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February 21, 2013

Wings, Rush Pull Double Duty in NLL Week 8

There are five NLL games this weekend and all are on The Philadelphia Wings and the Edmonton Rush each play twice, while the Buffalo Bandits and the Toronto Rock get a bye.


MINNESOTA (2-4) AT EDMONTON (3-4), 9 p.m. ET

This is the first of two scheduled meetings this year. The last time these teams met, Edmonton swatted the Swarm 15-3 in the West Division final last May.

Minnesota is coming off a 17-16 home loss to Calgary.

''We've been in five one-goal games and we've competed well in all of them,'' said Swarm coach Joe Sullivan. ''Looking ahead to Edmonton, it's not going to get any easier this weekend, that's for sure.

''It looks like they're playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of speed.''

Edmonton won twice last weekend _ 15-10 at home against Washington and 14-7 at Colorado, with Mark Matthews scoring 11 goals.

''He kind of took games over at key times and for a young guy to do that is pretty impressive,'' GM-coach Derek Keenan said during the NLL's weekly conference call.

With 23 goals, Matthews is the NLL's top goal scorer.

''I definitely didn't think I'd be leading the league and as a team I expected us to be higher in the standings,'' he said. ''Hopefully, we can get on a roll here and have some more team success.''

This will be their last home game until April.


PHILADELPHIA (2-3) AT ROCHESTER (3-4), 7:30 p.m. ET

This is the second of three meetings this year. Rochester won 20-10 in Philadelphia on Feb. 8.

''We know they are going to be better,'' said Knighthawks coach Mike Hasen.

The Wings' Jordan Hall suggests that will be the case even though two bye weekends in the last three weeks have kept the players apart.

''We've got a practise Friday night in Rochester and we're really looking forward to getting back in NLL mode,'' said Hall.

Hall plays in Blue Cross Arena for the first time since being traded from the Knighthawks.

''I definitely want to go out there and have a good performance,'' he said. ''I definitely want to have a homecoming that's maybe upsetting for some of the Rochester fans.''

The Wings have lost three in a row. Their offense has been producing at a league-worst 10.4 goals a game.

''We've got to get back to what we do best,'' said GM-coach Johnny Mouradian. ''We're athletic and we need to play that way. We feel confident. We've got a great group of guys who are ready and willing for the challenge.''

Rochester is coming off a 10-6 home loss to Buffalo when Bandits goalie Anthony Cosmo was crazy good.

''Their defense — and Coz played well, too — took us right out of our rhythm,'' said Hasen.

Matt Vinc of the Knighthawks has a league-best .811 save percentage among first-string goalies and the team's 10.1 goals-against average is tops in the NLL.

''We've got a veteran group of guys who trust one another and who are pulling in the same direction,'' said Rochester D-man Brad Self.

CALGARY (5-3) AT WASHINGTON (4-4), 10 p.m. ET

This is the first of three meetings this year. Calgary was 3-0 versus Washington last year. The last Stealth win, 10-8, was in the 2011 West final in Calgary.

''We've always felt that Calgary is one of the marquee teams in the league,'' said Stealth coach Chris Hall. ''They got off to a slow start but have been on fire ever since.''

Calgary split last weekend, losing 17-12 in Toronto before winning 17-16 at Minnesota.

''I was a little disappointed with the split, to be honest,'' said coach Curt Malawsky. ''Letting in 17 and 16 is not going to get it done in this league.''

Malawsky hasn't appreciated a lack of discipline on the part of some of his players that has led to too many Roughnecks penalties.

''There's going to be some things addressed and there might be people who will be victims of circumstance,'' he said. ''It's unacceptable and there's going to be something done about it.''

The Roughnecks' 14.3 goals-a-game offense is No. 1.

Washington goalie Tyler Richards has a save percentage of .796 to trail only Vinc (.811) and Toronto's Nick Rose (.800).

''The problem with our team this year has been inconsistency,'' said Stealth forward Rhys Duch, lamenting the fact the team seems to become complacent after big wins.

Defenseman Jeff Moleski is expected back in Washington's lineup.

''We miss his presence back there,'' said Hall. ''It looks like he'll be ready to go.''



This will be the second of two games between the teams this weekend.

The Rush have impressive statistical balance. Going into the weekend, they are No. 3 in both offense, scoring 12.7 goals on average, and on defense, allowing 10.8 a game.

Minnesota forward Callum Crawford sat out against Calgary and is iffy for this weekend.



This is the first of two meetings this year. In two games last year, the visiting team won by one goal each time.

''We match up well with Colorado,'' said Mouradian.

''Philadelphia is very athletic and kind of in the same situation as we are, trying to find ourselves,'' said Mammoth coach Bob Hamley.

Colorado is coming off a 14-7 home loss to Edmonton.

''We've got to keep getting better and improving in all facets of our game,'' said Hamley. ''We haven't done that yet and maybe we can make progress on that this Sunday.''

Mammoth defenseman Rory Smith is expected back in the lineup this weekend after sitting that one out with a minor injury.

The save percentage of .729 of Colorado's Matt Roik is poorest among NLL goalies who have played more than 200 minutes. Recently-signed Dan Lewis might get this start.


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