NLL Week 11: Rush Claim Top Spot in West, Mitch Jones Plays Hero and More

PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELINE V/ROCHESTER KNIGHTHAWKS


The more things change in the West Division, the more things seem to stay the same.

Saskatchewan is once again on top of the western circuit of the National Lacrosse League as we near the halfway mark of the season. With the Rush’s 9-7 victory over Colorado, coupled with Vancouver splitting this weekend, Saskatchewan remained the only team in the division .500 or better.

Pushing the Rush to 4-2 on the season was a fourth quarter run which saw Saskatchewan outscore Colorado 4-2 after entering the frame tied at five goals apiece. The win marked the team’s first at home this season.

“A huge win,” Rush goalie Evan Kirk told SaskRush.com. “We had to put it all together at home. It’s good to get a full team win. To get that (winless at home) monkey off our back is absolutely huge. These fans are instrumental for our play and getting them a win is awesome.”

Robert Church and Ben McIntosh each notched four points, and Jeff Shattler scored the eventual game-winning tally 5:46 into the fourth. Saskatchewan overcame a five-point performance from Colorado’s Eli McLaughlin to win.

The Rush are three games up in the loss column on second-place Vancouver and at least two games up on everyone else.

Staying Afloat

The Calgary Roughnecks managed to snap a three-game losing streak, besting New York 13-9 Saturday to remain a factor in the West Division playoff race.

“It’s been a while,” Calgary coach Curt Malawsky told CalgaryRoughnecks.com. “We’ve lost four games by a total of six goals, so it’s been tough. You can play really clean games and lose by one, and today wasn’t the cleanest game, but the [competition] level was really good.”

Rhys Duch had two goals and four assists, and Tyler Pace notched a hat trick in a game in which the Roughnecks never trailed. Pace’s three goals came within a span of 1:39 in the second half.

With the win, the Roughnecks are tied with the Warriors for the second playoff spot in the West but are just a half-game up on the two teams tied at the bottom of the division, Colorado and San Diego.







End on a High Note

The Warriors, looking to move past a rather non-competitive 15-8 loss to Buffalo Friday, were able to close out the weekend in style with an overtime victory against the Rochester Knighthawks Sunday afternoon.

Who else would finish it besides Mitch Jones, the franchise’s clear MVP so far this year? He buried his fourth of the game off a long outlet pass to lift the Warriors to an 11-10 finish.

The final point capped off a nine-point afternoon for Jones, who jumped back atop the league scoring chart. He now has 56 points on the season.

Also scoring four times was teammate Joel McCready and Rochester’s Phil Caputo.

Don’t Forget About Us

Buffalo’s victory against Vancouver, backed by eight points by Dhane Smith and six each from Josh Byrne, Chris Cloutier and Garrett Billings, was the team’s fifth straight. It seemed like another example of the Bandits and Thunderbirds sitting safely atop the North Division. On Sunday, the Toronto Rock reminded everyone they shouldn’t be counted out so quickly.

The Rock scored three straight in the second quarter to move ahead and then sealed a win with a four-goal run stretching from the third quarter to the fourth quarters in a 13-9 victory over Buffalo. Dan Dawson had seven points, and Rob Hellyer added five, with each scoring a goal in the clinching run.

“A great second half for us, defensively that was probably our best half of the season and the offense was great all night,” Rock goalie Nick Rose told TorontoRock.com. “It was a great team win.”

Buffalo and Toronto have split their first two meetings, with the final matchup set for March 13 at Scotiabank Arena.

Noteworthy

The Toronto Rock acquired defenseman Taylor Stuart from the Colorado Mammoth for a 2020 second round pick … Toronto’s Dan Dawson notched his 900th career assist against the Bandits. Rob Hellyer scored his 200th career goal … Colorado’s Dillon Ward made the most impressive save of the weekend, extending out with his stick to foil Saskatchewan’s Mark Matthews.

Up Next
All times EST

Saturday
Saskatchewan at Halifax, 6 p.m.
Vancouver at Toronto, 7 p.m.
New York at Georgia, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
San Diego at Colorado, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday
Philadelphia at New England, 5 p.m.

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