New York Holds Off Charlotte Charge in One Goal Win
Three goals each from Rob Pannell and Tommy Palasek helped the New York Lizards edge the Charlotte Hounds 12-11 on Friday night on the road, setting up a head-to-head showdown for a home playoff game in next week's regular season finale against the Denver Outlaws.
New York will host that contest, set for 5:30 p.m. The winner will have a home game in the first round of the playoffs the following weekend, along with Rochester, which clinched a home game with Thursday's win over the Bayhawks. Rochester, Denver and New York are all guaranteed a playoff spot, with Ohio, Boston and Florida battling for the fourth and final spot.
Rochester stands in the drivers' seat for the top overall seed with a game Saturday against Ohio and then Boston to close the regular season and a half game lead over Denver. If they win out, they will finish first and host the Ohio/Boston/Florida 4th place spot. Denver could catch Rochester with a win over New York, as they hold a tie-break advantage over the Rattlers. New York, however, could spoil that, as a win by more than five goals would put them into second place and hosting in the playoffs (Denver defeated them 16-11 earlier this summer).
The value in a home playoff game for all three teams is obvious when you consider that they are a combined 17-2 at home compared with a 9-10 road record.
On Friday night, Charlotte nearly threw a monkey wrench into the Lizards' long-shot odds at hosting a playoff game, jumping out to a 4-1 lead before New York rallied back to take a one-goal lead at half. They traded leads and ties throughout the third quarter before New York was able to take control with three straight down the stretch in the fourth. Mason Poli fired home a 2-point strike for Charlotte to make it interesting in the final minute, but the Lizards were able to hold on for the one-goal win.
Pannell had three goals and an assist while Michael Kimmel had a goal and three assists to lead the Lizards on the offensive side. Palasek had a hat-trick, while Kyle Hartzll fired a 2-point goal of his own in New York's 6-2 second quarter run. Greg Gurenlian went 15-for-23 at the X and assisted on two scores, while Drew Adams earned the win in net with nine saves.
Matt Danowski had three goals and an assist for the Hounds, who fell to 4-9 with the loss. Justin Ward had three assists, while John Haus (2G), Mike Sawyer (2G), Jake Tripucka (1G, 1A) and Poli had two points each in the loss. Pierce Bassett made 20 saves for Charlotte.
Charlotte closes its season with a rematch of last year's championship game, visiting Annapolis to take on the Bayhawks in a battle of the only two teams that do not enter Saturday night with a chance at a playoff spot.
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