April 30, 2011

Buffalo, Calgary and Washington Advance to NLL Semifinals

from press releases

The National Lacrosse League playoffs opened on Saturday night, and defending champion Washington was one of three teams to advance to the semifinals. Buffalo and Calgary also moved on with victories. The fourth first round game takes place on Sunday afternoon with Rochester heading to Toronto.

Buffalo 11, Boston 10

The Buffalo Bandits defeated the Boston Blazers on Saturday night at HSBC Arena in Buffalo by the score of 11-10 in front of 11,273 fans. Buffalo, the regular season Eastern Division Title holder, moves on to the Divisional Finals of the playoffs after leading the entire game and breaking a late tie in the final quarter.

The first quarter, defense oriented, was quick with no penalties for Boston, but three minors for Buffalo. Mark Steenhuis netted the first goal of the game. Much like the teams' last meeting, Boston's Jamie Rooney scored the first goal for the Blazers. The Bandits' goaltender, Mike Thompson, made several great saves to keep the Blazers to one goal in the first 15 minutes.

The Blazers' defense, including goaltender Anthony Cosmo, did a good job at keeping the first frame low-scoring. Cosmo saved seven of the nine shots on goal in the first quarter, which ended at 2 to 1.

In yet another quick quarter, the Bandits' John Tavares scored from the outside, approximately halfway through the frame, creating an offensive momentum. Roger Vyse continued the drive by scoring his second goal of the night less than two minutes after Tavares.

Boston's Nick Cotter brought the energy to the Blazers' bench by scoring. Though Tavares managed to score again, Boston's momentum didn't end as Casey Powell netted a goal. The quarter was clearly an offensive match-up as Vyse, Tracey Kelusky and Chad Culp scored for Buffalo and Jamie Rooney, following a well devised, last-minute play, scored again for Boston.

The half ended with Buffalo at seven to Boston's four in a controlled game that highlighted the goaltending on either end of the turf. Cosmo saved 11 of 18 shots on goal and Thompson saved 23 of 27 shots in the first half.

Right out of the gate, Boston's Casey Powell put one on the board bringing the Blazers within two of Buffalo. But the Bandits would not allow any runs. They surged ahead with two more goals, continuing the offense oriented play from the second quarter.

The defense were equally important in the third quarter, as neither team managed to score after three minutes into the frame.

Both goaltenders made several crucial saves in the second half. Mike Thompson saved 42 out of 52 shots in the game. Anthony Cosmo saved 30 of 41 shots. Boston won more faceoffs than Buffalo, but Buffalo got more loose balls than Boston.

In the game's final frame, Casey Powell fired the ball from the outside to score his third goal of the night. Boston's defense kept Buffalo's offense at bay for ten minutes until Tavares scored his second goal of the night.

The Bandits' defense also played well, keeping the Blazers behind. But the Blazers went on a four-goal run with less than five minutes remaining to tie up the game. John Tavares handled the ball well to score a last minute goal. Buffalo then was effective in keeping the ball away from the Blazers, who did get one last chance with 9 seconds remaining, but Bandits goaltender Mike Thompson made the big save.

The Bandits host Sunday's Rochester/Toronto winner in the Eastern Finals on Saturday, May 7th at 7:30pm Eastern. Boston's season ended tonight, making their overall record 8-9.

For the Blazers, Casey Powell (4g, 2a) and Dan Dawson (2g, 6a) led the way. Kevin Buchanan (1g, 4a) and Jamie Rooney (2g, 1a) also performed well.

Roger Vyse (4g, 2a), John Tavares (3g, 4a) and Mark Steenhuis (2g, 2a) paced the Bandits for the win.

Calagary 10, Colorado 6

The Calgary Roughnecks will be moving on to the Western Division Finals after knocking off the Colorado Mammoth 10-6 at the Saddledome. The defense-minded game went nearly back and forth all game but ultimately tilted in the Roughneck's favor.

Dane Dobbie (3g, 1a), Scott Ranger (3g,1a) and Curtis Dickson (2g,1a) led the way for Calgary. For the Mammoth it was John Grant Jr. (3g, 1a). Three players also marked a single goal in the loss.

Face off great Geoff Snider won 17 of 19 in the circle, which also played pivotal on a few of the Roughnecks' opportunities.
Alex Gajic scored early on a Mammoth power play to kick off the night. Brother Ilija Gajic and Nick Carlson would also score on the transition in the quarter off a few hiccups in the Calgary set up. Calgary's Ranger and Dobbie would tally early goals for their team as well.

Goaltender Poulin stole the show in the second, blanking the Mammoth offense on multiple opportunities, while the Rigger's explosive offense went to work capping a late three goal run to put them up 6-3 at halftime. Defense for both teams stepped up big in the third, allowing no goals until late in the quarter when each team tallied one apiece.

Poulin played a major role in the Rigger victory, who shut out the Mammoth offense for nearly 30 minutes en route to a 45 of 51 night. Chris Levis also kept the Mammoth in a close battle to the end in his 32 for 40 performance holding off the high caliber Calgary offense.

Calgary will host the defending champion Washington Stealth next week in the West Division Finals.

Washington 14, Minnesota 8

The Washington Stealth advance to the Western Division Final after defeating the Minnesota Swarm 14-8.

Minnesota opened up the scoring at 1:50 when Rich Morgan netted one. The Swarm outscored the Stealth 5-3 in the first; and all 8 goals were scored by different players.

Kevin Ross scored the lone goal for Minnesota in the second quarter while the Stealth scored three goals to tie things up. Lewis Ratcliff scored two goals late in the second to not only tie the game, but also completed a hat trick.

In the first half alone there were seven match penalties; five in the first quarter and two in the second quarter.

The Stealth made a strong run in the third and scored4 goals while the Swarm only scored two. Jeff Zywicki scored the last two Stealth goals of the quarter; while Callum Crawford and Kevin Ross both netted their seconds of the night for the Swarm.

The Stealth held the Swarm scoreless in the fourth while scoring four goals of their own. Rhys Duch completed a hat trick after scoring the first two goals of the quarter.

Duch led the Stealth with 7 points (3g,4a) followed by Lewis Ratcliff who had 6 points (3g,3a). Goaltender Tyler Richards stopped 40 of the 47 shots he faced while Matt Roik let in the only shot he faced.

Kevin Ross led the Swarm in scoring with 4 points (2g,2a) while Callum Crawford, Ryan Benesch and Aaron Wilson all had 3 points. Crawford had 2 goals and an assist, Benesch had 3 assists and Wilson 1 goal and two assists. Goaltender Nick Patterson stopped 38 of the 52 shots he faced.

The Stealth will play the Calgary Roughnecks on Saturday, May 7th at Scotiabank Saddledome in the Western Division Final. The winner advances to the Championship Game.

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