May 1, 2009

New York Wins OT Thriller at the Garden

from press release

NEW YORK - The New York Titans escaped with an 11-10 overtime victory against the Rochester Knighthawks in the opening round of the National Lacrosse League playoffs on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The Titans appeared doomed as they trailed 10-8 with under five minutes left in the contest, but forward Casey Powell responded by scoring the last two goals of regulation and then the game-winner in overtime.

The Titans grabbed the first lead of the game when forward Brendan Mundorf scored at the 3:40 mark of the first period, but the lead did not last long. Back-to-back goals by Knighthawks forward Shawn Evans made the score 2-1 in favor of Rochester, and another tally by forward Gary Gait pushed Rochester's lead to 3-1 with 1:45 left in the opening quarter. Mundorf managed to score with just 13 seconds left in the period, making the score 3-2 at the end of the first.

Mundorf scored again at the 1:35 mark of the second quarter to complete his natural hat-trick. New York would outscore the Knighthawks 4-2 in the quarter and head into halftime with a 6-5 lead after Mundorf scored for a fourth time with 33 seconds left in the first half. The lead could have been even greater for the Titans, but Knighthawks goaltender Pat O'Toole turned away 16 shots in the second quarter alone to keep his squad in the game. In all, he made 23 first half saves on 29 shots.

Rochester wasted no time taking back the lead in the third quarter. After Evans scored his third goal of the game with 1:41 off the clock in the second half, teammate Jamie Rooney – a former Titan who was traded for defenseman Bill Greer at the trade deadline – scored 16 seconds later to put the Knighthawks ahead 7-6. The lead was extended to 8-6 when forward Shawn Williams rounded out the all-Rochester third quarter scoring with 4:35 left in the quarter.

The fourth quarter began with a Ryan Boyle goal that pulled the Titans within one, but Knighthawks forwards Jason Henhawk and Craig Point scored the next two goals to give Rochester a three goal lead, the largest of the game. Titans defenseman Patrick Merrill scored a rare goal at the 7:21 to cut the lead to two.

Shortly thereafter, Powell was called for a goalie interference penalty that was soon followed by a roughing penalty on Merrill. This gave the Knighthawks a 5-on-3 powerplay with just over six minutes left in the game and an opportunity to regain their three goal lead. However, the Titans penalty kill showed up in the clutch and killed off the two-man advantage. Powell then returned to the field and quickly scored to make the score 10-9. Refusing to lose, he scored again – on a powerplay, which was the theme of the night – to tie the game at 10 with just 17 seconds remaining.

Powell then completed his own natural hat-trick at the 2:16 mark of overtime, fighting off a Knighthawks defender and finding space past O'Toole while falling to the ground. He finished his evening with four goals, four assists and the game MVP honors.

Titans goaltender Matt Vinc saved 31 of the 41 shots he faced. Mundorf added two assists to go along with his four first-half goals.

Evans led the Knighthawks with three goals. Williams added one goal and five assists for Rochester. O'Toole totaled 43 saves on 54 shots faced.

Ten of the 21 goals scored in the game were of the powerplay variety. There were also two shorthanded goals, one by each team.

With the victory, the Titans advance to the East Division Finals to take on the winner of Saturday night's contest between the Buffalo Bandits and Boston Blazers.

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