May 22, 2014

NLL Notes: Smith Hit On Dawson Deemed Legal

by Neil Stevens | | Twitter | Stevens Archive

Rory Smith knocked Dan Dawson out of Saturday's East final, but the league review of the hit resulted in no further disciplinary action (Smith was not penalized in the game). (Larry Palumbo)

Rory Smith will face no league discipline for knocking Dan Dawson out of the Buffalo-Rochester playoff game last Saturday night.

Dawson accepted a pass in Buffalo's end of the floor in the third minute of the second quarter, stepped around a defender, and came face to face with Smith. The Buffalo defenseman had his stick over his head when he lowered it to check Dawson, who fell to the floor upon impact. No penalty was assessed.

Dawson, who had scored two goals in the first quarter, left groggily and did not return to the game. Rochester won 13-8 to tie the home-and-home set 1-1 and, after a 10-minute minigame could not decide things, Cory Vitarelli scored in sudden-death OT to advance the Knighthawks to the championship series.

Knighthawks coach Mike Hasen was under the impression Dawson had been struck on the chest when he said during a league conference call Wednesday that he anticipated Dawson would be in the lineup for the start of the championship series in Calgary on Saturday night.

The league reviewed the Smith-on-Dawson contact and issued the following statement Thursday: ''No supplemental discipline is warranted as the check applied by Buffalo player Rory Smith on Rochester player Dan Dawson was applied on the shoulder area of Dawson while he had possession of the ball.''


TSN2 in Canada and ESPN3 in the United States will carry the Rochester-at-Calgary championship Game 1 live at 9 p.m. ET Saturday night from the Saddledome, the NLL announced Thursday, adding that broadcast details for Game 2 in Rochester on May 31 will be announced next week.


The multiple-game format for division and league finals this year was tried once before in the indoor pro league. In 1998, Philadelphia won 16-12 at home and 17-12 in Baltimore to win the title. Fine, the Wings took it 2-0. That was clearcut, and the league killed the format.

Now we have the second experiment with this system, 16 years later, and some fans and at least a few innocent bystanders are scratching their heads because it hasn't been so clearcut this time.

The No. 1 (Edmonton, 16-2) and No. 2 (Rochester, 14-4) overall playoff seeds had a bye week before starting on the road. Opening a playoff series at home is usually an advantage. The lower-seeded team should not have that advantage.

Neither Edmonton nor Rochester benefitted from the week off and lost to lower-seeded (Calgary, 12-6, and Buffalo, 8-10) but revved-up- opponents who were coming off invigorating first-round wins played in the single-game elimination format.

Edmonton and Rochester then won the home Game 2s of their division finals at home to force 10-minute minigames in which Edmonton fell 2-1 to Calgary and was out while Rochester beat Buffalo 2-1 in overtime to advance.

Let's suggest the 2014 NLL format to the NFL. Think they'd go for a two-game Super Bowl? With a 10-minute tiebreaker tacked on?


Goaltender Mike Poulin's play in the 10-minute minigame that Calgary won 2-1 was a big reason why the Roughnecks advanced to the finals against Rochester. When it mattered most, Poulin was at the top of his game. Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson won all four faceoffs and the Rush outshot Calgary 10-6 in extra time, but they lost because of Shawn Evans' two goals and Poulin's knack of rising to the occasion.


John Tavares scored seven goals in the 2014 playoffs to pad his lead atop the list of all-time playoff goal scorers. J.T. is 25 ahead of the next active player, John Grant Jr., so he'll be retired for many years before anyone comes close. The leaders:

1. John Tavares, Buffalo, 84
2. Gary Gait, retired, 67
3. John Grant Jr., Colorado, 59
4. Mike Accursi, Rochester, 58
5. Colin Doyle, Toronto, 55
6. Paul Gait, retired, 52
7. Dan Dawson, Rochester, 49
8. Mark Steenhuis, Buffalo, 48


This will be Rochester's ninth appearance in the final. The Knighthawks won four of the previous eight _ three on the road and one at home.

In 1997, the Knighthawks went into Buffalo and defeated the Bandits 15-12. Current Buffalo GM Steve Dietrich tended goal for the 'Hawks and got the MVP nod after making 54 saves.

In 2007, Rochester would have been at home for the title game had a circus not previously booked Blue Cross Arena. There was a team in Arizona at that time and it was the other finalist. The teams agreed to decide things on the home floor of the Sting in Glendale. The Knighthawks won 13-11. John Grant Jr. was MVP.

In 2012, the Knighthawks rallied to defeat Edmonton 9-6 in Rochester. Cody Jamieson was the MVP.

In 2013, Rochester again represented the East. West winner Washington was a higher seed so got home floor. A youth conference was booked into its Everett arena so the Stealth opted to stage the final in Langley, British Columbia. The Hawks won 11-10. Jamieson was again named MVP.


Calgary has won two NLL titles.

The most recent triumph was a 12-10 home decision in 2009 over the New York Titans, who had moved to Orlando by the time the next season rolled around. Five of the 2014 Roughnecks _ Dane Dobbie, Jeff Shattler, Andrew McBride, Mike Carnegie and Scott Ranger _ played in the 2009 final, and current coaches Curt Malawsky and Bruce Codd were also in uniform. Josh Sanderson was named MVP. Calgary outshot New York 50-42. Matt King was the winning goaltender, and none other than current Rochester goalie Matt Vinc was in goal for the Titans.

Other players from that last team to play out of New York who were still playing in the NLL this year include Buffalo's Rory Smith, Philadelphia's Jordan Hall, Colorado's Casey Powell and Toronto's Pat Merrill and Bill Greer.

Calgary's other title win was in 2004, which was only its third year in the league. Goalie Curtis Palidwor was named MVP after making 41 saves in a 14-11 home win over Buffalo.


Beginning with their 2009 title win at home and last Saturday night in Edmonton, the Calgary Roughnecks played 11 straight home playoff games. They have been so consistently good during regular seasons that they usually enter the playoffs as one of the top seeds.


It is great to hear that Edmonton Rush forward Corey Small, who missed the entire NLL season while rehabbing from a knee injury, is playing again. He scored four goals for the Victoria Shamrocks in their Western Lacrosse Association season opener earlier this week. Rhys Duch of the NLL's Vancouver Stealth also scored four for the Shamrocks in a 13-13 tie with the Nanaimo Timbermen. Calgary Roughnecks players Scott Ranger, Karsen Leung, brothers Jon and Greg Harnett and Dan MacRae will join the Shamrocks when the NLL final is complete.


May 17, 2008: Buffalo defeated Portland 14-13 in front of a sellout home crowd of 18,690 to win the NLL championship. Mark Steenhuis scored five goals to earn the MVP nod.

May 27, 1990: Identical twins Paul and Gary Gait, who helped Syracuse to NCAA titles in 1988, 1989 and 1990, were drafted and signed to play with the Detroit Turbos.

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