Blogs and Commentary

April 29, 2013

Stevens' First-Round Playoff Turning Points

by Neil Stevens |

So, it's Minnesota at Rochester in the NLL East Division final at 4 p.m. ET Saturday, and Washington at Calgary in the NLL West Division final at 6:30 p.m. ET and both are on CBS Sports Network.

Philadelphia, Edmonton, Colorado and Toronto are 2013 history bites.

How did all this happen? A glance at the turning points in the first-round games helps provide answers.

Minnesota 20, Toronto 11

It's a close game. The Swarm lead 5-4 after one quarter. David Earl gets sent off for holding 32 seconds into the second quarter. The Rock power-play unit trots onto the floor. But Shayne Jackson scores a short-handed goal. The Swarm survive the penalty. But Jeff Gilbert is assessed a holding penalty and Toronto gets another power play.

The Rock can't score. After Gilbert's penalty expires, goals by Jackson, Jay Card and Ryan Benesch put the Swarm up 9-4. The way Tyler Carlson was tending goal for the Swarm, it was over.

Four minutes with a manpower advantage when the score still close, and the Rock come up empty. Turn out the lights.

''Carlson was a big reason why we didn't score on those power plays,'' Rock coach Troy Cordingley said afterwards. ''Having said that, we were outworked.''

Rochester 10, Philadelphia 8

It is 7-7 in the fourth quarter when Philadelphia's Ned Crotty checks an opponent to the floor from the back when he doesn't have the ball. Crotty goes to the penalty box for an illegal cross check and the Knighthawks are on the power play. Dan Dawson, who has already scored four goals, swings an over-the-back pass to Craig Point, who quickly buries a power-play goal at 9:20.

The Wings get a chance to tie it again when Rochester defenseman Scott Self is penalized for high-sticking Jordan Hall at 11:39. Wait. The power play comes to a premature end 58 seconds later when the Wings' Drew Westervelt is sent off for roughing. Chance lost.

''We took a penalty in the offensive end at the end and you can't have those mental breakdowns,'' said Wings coach Johnny Mouradian.

Paul Dawson and Mike Accursi score for Rochester and the Knighthawks are up 10-7. Adios, Johnny.

Calgary 15, Colorado 10

It is 7-7 in the third quarter when Calgary's Curtis Dickson tries to clean Rory Smith's teeth with the shaft of his stick and is sent off for five minutes. Scott Ranger and Jeff Shattler score short-handed goals for the Roughnecks to ignite a five-goal run. It's over. The Mammoth's botched power play does them in.

''We're a team and we're going to bail each other out when we make mistakes,'' said Ranger. ''Dickson is a guy who has worked his butt off all year for us. Seeing him sitting for five minutes, we just knew we had to rally behind him.''

Washington 12, Edmonton 11

It is 10-8 for Edmonton when Jeff Cornwall of the Rush is assessed a major penalty for checking from behind at 14:12 of the third quarter. With one second left, Mike Grimes scores after gathering in a long pass from goalie Tyler Richards.

''That was a giant goal for us and [Grimes] has been magic for us all year,'' said coach Chris Hall. ''It was a giant motivator because now we are within one with a quarter to go.''

The Grimes goal touches off a four-goal Stealth run in 3 1-2 minutes, and the Stealth win it after overcoming a 6-0 second-quarter deficit.

Rumor has it that Hall is sending Cornwall a dozen roses.

Neil Stevens has covered pro and Canadian lacrosse since 1971. He and the late Tom Borrelli — a longtime Lacrosse Magazine contributor — are the only media members recognized by the NLL Hall of Fame.

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