July 25, 2009

MLL: Shanny Returns; Machine Stays Alive

from press release

Box Score: Chicago 18, Long Island 11

CHICAGO -- Chicago kept its playoff hopes alive after an impressive 18-11 victory over Washington. The Machine took control early in the game and never let up against a struggling Bayhawks squad. Bud Light MVP Mike Gabel turned in his best performance of the year with 23 saves on 34 shots.

Both teams started slow in the first quarter, scoring a combined three goals. After Washington's Kevin Huntley (2g) score one and a half minutes into the game, Chicago responded with two goals from Brendan Loftus (3g) and Brendan Cannon (3g, 2a). After one period the Machine led 2-1.

Chicago's Doug Shanahan (4g, 1a), acquired from Long Island's practice squad in light of Anthony Kelly's injury, jumpstarted a big second quarter for the Machine by scoring seven seconds into the quarter. After goals from Kevin Leveille (2g), Mark Kovler (1g, 1a), and Chazz Woodson (2g), Chicago seized control of the match for the remainder of the night. Washington's Ben Hunt (1g), Kyle Dixon (1g), and Ben Rubeor (1g) were the only ones to answer Chicago, but could not keep the Bayhawks within range of their opponents.

Entering halftime, Chicago extended its lead to six goals with a score of 10-4.

Expecting a strong push from Washington, Chicago tallied the first goal of the second half, compliments of Kevin Leveille. But after two technical fouls on Machine defenders, Washington converted on two power play attempts, both coming from Andrew Combs (3g, 2a). Matt Abbott (2g, 1a) also scored, bringing the Bayhawks to within four goals.

Chicago simply had too much firepower, however, and answered with three more goals from Shanahan, M. Leveille, and Terry Kimener (1g, 1a). After three periods, the Machine extended their lead back to six goals with a score of 14-8.

The fourth quarter proved to be almost an exact replay of the third quarter, with the Machine and Bayhawks exchanging three goals before Cannon was able to put hammer the final nail in Washington's coffin.

The game's MVP, Mike Gabel made 11 saves in the first half and finished with 12 for the second half. His outstanding performance between the pipes kept Chicago out of trouble and eliminated any hopes of a Bayhawks comeback.

Washington's keeper, Chris Garrity, struggled the entire night, making only 15 saves on 33 shots.

Despite another strong performance from Washington's faceoff man Alex Smith (20-of-33), the Bayhawks still had a lot of trouble converting their possessions into goals. Washington also had five power play opportunities and could only turn in two goals, hardly enough to make any comeback against the Machine.

Only seven players from Washington were able to score, highlighted by Combs' hat trick. Abbott and Huntley each netted two goals, while Glading, Dixon, Hunt, and Rubeor could only muster up a goal each.

Chicago's 18 goals came from nine different players, including hat tricks from Loftus, Cannon, and, most noticeably, Shanahan. Shanahan played only one game with the Lizards this season, and, after Anthony Kelly's season-ending injury in Boston, was acquired by his old team, Chicago.

Shanahan is one of the league's top faceoff men, and after tonight, will rank fourth all-time for career faceoff wins with 772. In his first game back in Chi-town, Doug scored four goals and added one assist.

As the game clock ran to zero, the Machine kept its playoff hopes alive, moving their record to 3-7. If Chicago can win out the rest of their season, it will be able to possibly reach this year's playoffs. With only two games left, the Machine will travel back to Annapolis to finish up its season series. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern.

With the loss, Washington is now tied with Chicago at 3-7. Both teams can still qualify for the playoffs.

The New Balance Major League Lacrosse Championship Weekend is Aug. 22-23 at Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

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