A Banner Weekend for Goalies in NLL Week 12

PHOTO BY JACK DEMPSEY / NLL

Dillon Ward made 47 saves in a 12-10 victory over Saskatchewan on Sunday.


Sure, lacrosse can be a game of runs. But runs like the KeyBank Center saw Friday night are highly unusual. So much so that the game brought a bit of history.

Every goal in the Buffalo Bandits’ 13-8 win against the Albany FireWolves was scored on the same net, with each team alternating shutting out the other for a quarter. That led to some wild swings, with Albany’s 1-0 lead after one quarter being flipped to a 6-1 Buffalo advantage at the break and then an 8-6 FireWolves lead entering the final 15 minutes.

Buffalo’s game-closing 7-0 spurt allowed the squad to breathe a sigh of relief and rebound from the group’s first defeat last week.

This is the first time every goal has been scored on the same net among available box scores, according to Graeme Perrow, who runs the NLL Fact of the Day Twitter account.

“Just never overthink it,” Buffalo’s Chris Cloutier said of responding to the Albany pressure. “Keep your head up, just do what we can do and have faith in each other. We know that we’re going to claw back and fight back every time.”

Cloutier found the net four times and had one assist, while Dhane Smith led Buffalo with six points. Josh Byrne’s five points rounded out the top offensive producers.

READY TO STEP UP

It had been quite a while since Steve Fryer secured a victory in an NLL game, but the veteran goalie was ready when his name was called this weekend.

Fryer, the Vancouver Warriors’ backup goaltender, was thrust into the starting lineup due to Alex Buque dealing with a non-COVID illness. Even without its starting goalie, faceoff specialist Tyrell Hamer-Jackson and leading scorer Mitch Jones, Vancouver continued its hot streak against Calgary.

Fryer made 49 saves in his first win since 2019, and Riley Loewen scored the go-ahead goal to break a tie with under three minutes remaining in an 11-10 triumph. The Warriors have now strung together three straight wins, all without Jones.

“All season I’ve been waiting for this opportunity,” Fryer said. “It was kind of taken away from me at the beginning of the year. I got hurt. I was just looking at it one shot, one save at a time. I couldn’t be happier. These guys played great in front of me.”

Loewen was able to deke his defender, pull his stick from right to left and beat Calgary’s Christian del Bianco to secure the win. Keegan Bal led the offense with three goals and three assists.

BRICK WALL IN DENVER

Colorado’s Dillon Ward was just as impressive as Fryer in Week 12. The Mammoth were outshot 57-40 by Saskatchewan on Sunday, but Ward stood on his head with 47 saves in a 12-10 victory.

“I just looked up at the board, and I think there were 57 shots, which is completely ridiculous,” said Mammoth forward Ryan Lee, who had five goals and two assists. “Best goalie in the league right here, so that’s going to keep us in games.”

Lee’s offensive showing helped Colorado claw out of an early 6-2 deficit to tie the score at 7. A three-goal run in the fourth quarter put the Mammoth up for good, though Saskatchewan did make things interesting by cutting the deficit to one goal twice. That included a tally right off the faceoff by Mike Messenger after Colorado scored on an empty net in the final minute.







SAVING THE DAY

Adding to a banner week for goaltenders was Halifax’s Warren Hill, who made one of the more acrobatic saves you’ll see in his team’s 15-10 win against the Georgia Swarm.

Hill absolutely robbed Shayne Jackson in the final seconds of the third quarter, thwarting a cross-crease pass that nearly assured a goal.

His work in cage complimented the offensive performance of Austin Shanks, who sent socks flying with six goals.

SECOND SHOWINGS

Both the FireWolves and Roughnecks returned for a second game this weekend with mixed results.

Albany couldn’t halt the Toronto Rock from extending their win streak to four games in a 13-9 final. The FireWolves opened the second half with a goal to take a 7-6 advantage, but Toronto responded with seven of the next eight to pull away.

Rob Hellyer led the Rock charge with six points, and Tom Schreiber had five.

Calgary, on the other hand, was able to earn a split by holding on to a 13-12 win against Panther City Lacrosse Club. Harrison Matsuoka and Zach Herreweyers helped the Riggers break an 11-11 tie with a pair of goals, and the defense was able to put the clamps down in the final 7:18.

Tyler Pace and Jesse King had monster showings with eight points and seven points, respectively.         

NOTEWORTHY

The Thunderbirds played their first game back in Halifax since December 10 after COVID-19 restrictions were eased. … American faceoff specialist Max Adler made his NLL debut with the Buffalo Bandits. He went 8-for-25 going up against a familiar face, fellow Premier Lacrosse League player Joe Nardella. … Vancouver’s Reid Bowering recorded 10 loose balls against Calgary, his third straight game with double-digit loosies. … Panther City’s Cam Milligan notched a hat trick and added two assists in his first game with the team.

POWER RANKINGS

Last week’s rankings in parentheses:

1. San Diego Seals (1)
2. Halifax Thunderbirds (2)
3. Buffalo Bandits (3)
4. Toronto Rock (4)
5. Colorado Mammoth (5)
6. Vancouver Warriors (6)
7. Philadelphia Wings (9)
8. Georgia Swarm (7)
9. Albany FireWolves (8)
10. Calgary Roughnecks (11)
11. Rochester Knighthawks (10)
12. Saskatchewan Rush (12)
13. New York Riptide (13)
14. Panther City Lacrosse Club (14)

UP NEXT
ALL TIMES EASTERN

Saturday

Thunderbirds at Wings, 7:30 p.m.
Rock at Riptide, 7:30 p.m.
Bandits at Knighthawks, 8 p.m.
Mammoth at Rush, 8:30 p.m.
Warriors at Panther City, 8:30 p.m.
FireWolves at Seals, 10 p.m.

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