NLL Roars Back in Style with 3 OT Games and Highlights Galore

PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN BENDER / NLL

Dan Dawson scored the final two goals of Toronto's 10-9 win, including the game-winner with about two and a half minutes remaining


A trio of overtime games and five matchups decided by one goal helped remind fans what they missed out on when the National Lacrosse League was forced to sit out last winter amid the coronavirus pandemic. But after plenty of waiting, the high-flying action inside the box is back.

The OT whirlwind Saturday started in Halifax, where the Thunderbirds hosted Saskatchewan in a battle of championship hopefuls. After Jeff Shattler helped the Rush force overtime, Warren Hill stood on his head in the extra frame, and Eric Fannell switched hands to send the fans home happy with a game-winner.

Jump to Philadelphia, where who else but Matt Rambo spoiled Panther City Lacrosse Club’s official debut. The king of ripping out hearts in the Premier Lacrosse League ended the contest despite Philadelphia twice trailing by three goals in the first half.

And finally, it was Rochester’s turn to get in on the action. New York’s Connor Kearnan scored a stupendous diving goal with just under three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Knighthawks weathered the storm thanks to Thomas Hoggarth.

No one had played an NLL game since March 2020, so why not get a few extra minutes in?

“It feels great to be in front of these fans,” Rambo said. “We’re just happy to be back playing on the floor.”

ROCK ARRIVE IN HAMILTON

While it didn’t officially get to overtime, the Toronto Rock’s first game in Hamilton was just as thrilling as the aforementioned close contests.

A 4-1 run that stretched from the third quarter into the fourth put the newly relocated Albany FireWolves up 9-8 midway through the final frame. Dan Dawson made sure those efforts were in vain. He scored the final two goals of the game, including the game-winner with about two and a half minutes remaining, in front of a lively crowd of over 8,000.

“It was an exciting night there, and the place was hopping,” Rock head coach Matt Sawyer said. “It was good to come out that game with the win, it was hard fought, and we faced some adversity.”







BACK TO BANDITLAND

Homecoming was the theme for the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday night.

After handing out “Back to Banditland” towels to fans as they entered KeyBank Center, a pair of locals helped propel Buffalo to victory. Connor Fields, from just outside the city in East Amherst, scored four goals and added an assist in his team’s 16-9 victory in a championship rematch with Calgary.

“It’s really surreal,” Fields said after his Bandits debut. “I grew up going to these games my whole life. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Since I was born, basically.”

Also finding success in familiar surroundings was star rookie Tehoka Nanticoke. Soon after former Bandit Rich Kilgour shared memories of Nanticoke as a Buffalo ball boy with NLL.com’s Adam Levi, the now grown-up Six Nations native notched a hat trick in his first professional game.

Dhane Smith had nine points — the most of any player across the league to step in the box this weekend — and Josh Byrne added seven for the Bandits, who broke a 7-7 halftime tie with a 7-0 run in the third quarter.

SEASON-OPENING COMEBACK

The Vancouver Warriors made sure the NLL season kicked off in style Friday night, erasing a late two-goal deficit to best the San Diego Seals on the road.

Mac O’Keefe scored his first NLL goal to give the Seals a 7-5 advantage a minute and a half into the fourth quarter, but from there it was all Warriors. Mitch Jones and Matthew Dinsdale helped Vancouver equalize with four minutes and change on the clock before likely rookie of the year candidate Adam Charalambides put the visitors up for good at 8-7.

“We’ve had some downs where we get that three-goal run against us and we don’t come back from it,” Jones said. “I think this year we’ve just kind of come together. We’ve got a lot of leadership in our room. We’ve agreed, we’re going to battle through those things.”

ZED TURNS HEADS

A six-goal run by Colorado helped the Mammoth pull away for a 16-11 win against the Georgia Swarm Saturday. The most exciting tally of the night — and maybe of the weekend — came just before that offensive burst, when Zed Williams snagged a pass from a grounded Joey Cupido and went behind the back.

Ryan Lee led the Mammoth with five goals and an assist.

NOTEWORTHY

The first goal in Panther City LC history came from Travis Cornwall, who scored in transition just over a minute into the franchise’s first game. Anthony Malcolm had the first goal for Albany after moving from Connecticut. … Two Toronto Rock players moved up the all-time charts this weekend. Dan Dawson moved past former Toronto star Colin Doyle into fourth place in league history in goals. Goalie Nick Rose tied Hall of Famer Dallas Eliuk on the all-time wins list. … Philadelphia’s Ben McIntosh earned a spot in the SportsCenter Top 10 this week thanks to a diving goal from behind the cage. … Last year’s first overall pick Jeff Teat had three goals and two assists for the Riptide in his debut. … Rhys Duch notched a hat trick for Halifax after being thrust into the lineup at the last second following a Cody Jamieson injury. … The Thunderbirds are auctioning off their Every Child Matters uniforms until Monday night.

UP NEXT
ALL TIMES EASTERN

Friday

  • Toronto at Halifax, 6 p.m.

  • New York at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

  • Vancouver at Panther City, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday

  • Buffalo at Rochester, 7 p.m.

  • Calgary at Saskatchewan, 8:30 p.m.

  • San Diego at Colorado, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday

  • Georgia at New York, 3 p.m.

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