February 12, 2009

NLL Notebook: The Week That Was

by Theresa Smith | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

One of the most exciting finishes in National Lacrosse League history highlights the week that was.

The expansion Boston Blazers, a young team loaded with rookies, roared back to score two goals in the last 10 seconds to claim a 9-8 victory over New York last Saturday.

The Titans' Brendan Mundorf gave the visitors an 8-7 lead off a feed from NLL scoring leader Casey Powell with two and a half minutes remaining. It was the third goal of the game for the former UMBC standout.

With 10 seconds left, rookie Gary Bining caught a pass from Matt Lyons and scored his game-high fourth goal of the game, third in the fourth quarter. The Blazers controlled the face-ff and Jay Thorimbert fired the ball at the end boards, where Kyle Ross corralled it and redirected with an underhand shot in a narrow gap between Titans' keeper Matt Vinc and the near post.

In other games: Buffalo lost for the first time, 13-11, to Philadelphia. Calgary remained the only unbeaten team with a 13-8 triumph over Minnesota. Jamie Batley claimed his first win as Toronto coach, 16-9 over Edmonton. Colorado scored five unanswered goals in the final quarter to defeat Minnesota, 13-8. Portland downed San Jose 16-13 and New York beat Philadelphia 15-12.

In the Titans-Wings tilt, New York trailed 8-3 when Vinc was pulled for Erik Miller, who made 28 saves and allowed only four goals over the next 38 minutes, 24 seconds.

"Erik Miller was solid, and they basically seemed to play with a lot ore energy than we did and they deserved the win,'' said Philadelphia coach Dave Huntley.

In a game of special teams, the Wings converted six of seven power plays and the Titans cashed in on six of 10. The powerful New York offense scored 10 second-half goals, and Powell finished the weekend with five goals and five assists to maintain his status as NLL scoring leader with 24 goals and 24 assists. The former Syracuse star has a .242 shooting percentage. Mundorf finished the weekend split with six goals and three assists.

"Always one of the best things about back-to-back weekends is if you have a bad outcome the first game, you have the opportunity to make amends,'' said New York coach Ed Comeau. "That was a real good character win for our guys. We battled back from being down 8-3 and I credit the guys with sticking with the game plan."
Colorado and Minnesota were tied 8-8 when former San Jose forward Gary Rosyski scored a short-handed goal in his best game in a Mammoth uniform.

Gavin Prout followed with a transition goal off feeds from John Gallant and Nick Carlson and scored again off quick passes from Rosyski and Brian Langtry. Jamie Shewchuk and rookie Andrew Potter wrapped up the scoring. It was the first NLL goal for Potter a 20-year-old making his NLL debut.

The Mammoth offense is slowly regaining firepower. Along with getting more reliable production from veterans Prout, Langtry and Rosyski, coach Bob McMahon's team gained transition scoring with defenseman Matt Leveque scoring unassisted and transition player Nenad Gajic netting his third goal of the season.

Frequent momentum swings characterized the Portland-San Jose contest. After a 3-3 first quarter, the LumberJax outscored the Stealth 5-1 in the second quarter to take an 8-4 halftime lead. They increased their advantage to 10-4 early in the third quarter, but San Jose fought back to draw within 10-7, then fell back again 12-7. A furious fourth-quarter rally cut it to 14-12 on a goal by Curtis Hodgson with 5:26 to go. But Dan Stroup's goal and Pete Jacobs' penalty shot score restored the cushion to 16-12. Rookie Rhys Duch scored with the extra attacker for San Jose to end the scoring.

Peter Morgan finished with two goals to keep the team lead with 14 goals on an impressive .255 shooting percentage. Second-year player Cory Conway leads the Jax in points with 31 on 12 goals and 19 assists. Ryan Powell follows with 28 points, including 19 assists.

Conway, a 21-year-old from Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, has already surpassed last season's goal total of 11.

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