NLL Week 7: Halifax is For Real, Buffalo Recovers and Kevin Crowley Wows

PHOTO BY HANNAH SNYDER/NLL


There were questions about the Halifax Thunderbirds’ legitimacy as a contender after beating up on a pair of expansion teams to start the season, but now with two additional impressive wins under its belt, it’s time to take Halifax seriously.

Halifax fought from a four-goal deficit in the second quarter to best Colorado, 12-9, and end Colorado’s three-game win streak in front of a raucous crowd of over 7,000 in Nova Scotia.

“I think it was just our effort,” defenseman Graeme Hossack told HalifaxThunderbirds.com. “We were playing smarter, we were able to come together, we were getting back to our systems. As soon as we started to come together, the game started to go our way.”

Halifax went on an 8-1 run stretching from the second to third quarters that featured goals from six players. The defense held Colorado to two goals in the second half.

Four Thunderbird players scored twice —​ Hossack, Ryan Benesch, Eric Fannell and Cody Jamieson — and Mike Burke had five assists. Benesch put the team up for good at 9-8 when he scored 11:49 into the third quarter.

“After our early start, they packed it in a little more and kept us to the outside,” Mammoth coach Pat Coyle told ColoradoMammoth.com. “They’re a strong, athletic defensive unit, and we didn’t get many resets while having a lot of short offensive sets, so hats off to them.”

Halifax sits atop the North with a 4-0 record, one of two undefeated teams remaining. New England (3-0) had the weekend off.

K-Hawks Show Improvement

The Rochester Knighthawks continue to improve, but they’ve yet to capture that elusive first victory

Saturday brought the closest call, with the K-Hawks threatening until the final seconds, but Toronto was able to hold Rochester off for a second straight week in a 13-12 triumph.

Rochester went up by two goals three times, including at the start of the second quarter, but Toronto fought back to overcome nine-point performances from Holden Cattoni and Shawn Evans.

“We found a way, a pretty gritty effort,” Toronto coach Matt Sawyer told TorontoRock.com. “Certainly not our best moment, but you’re going to have that some nights. It’s important you find a way to win.”

Damon Edwards zcored to make it 13-11, providing Toronto with some insurance 7:16 into the final frame, but a K-Hawk goal by Phil Caputo in the final four minutes put pressure on the Rock again. Rochester got a handful of strong opportunities to equalize in the closing minutes but was unable to best Nick Rose.

Toronto has won three straight after dropping its season opener. Rob Hellyer led the squad with six points, and Zach Manns nearly doubled his career point total with five.







Wings Wow LaxCon Fans

Attendees of LaxCon who moseyed over to Wells Fargo Center Friday night saw a bit of history from the home team — and one of the most ridiculous goals you’ll ever witness.

The Philadelphia Wings, which dealt with heartbreak after heartbreak in their inaugural season, earned their first-ever three-game winning streak thanks to an 18-10 victory against Vancouver on US Lacrosse Night. The Wings are already a win away from last year’s total through just four games.

Josh Currier had four goals and four assists, and Blaze Riorden scored his first goals of the year in a seven-point performance. Matt Rambo also had six assists, and Kevin Crowley and Cory Vitarelli each added five points. A strong performance all around for the Wings offense, which you’d expect after seeing 18 goals on the scoreboard.

Among the goals was this stellar one-handed play by Crowley, which he buried for the 300th of his career. He took the entry pass behind his head and buried it.

Bandits Bounce Back

After the Bandits’ last outing, it was fair to wonder whether the team had taken a major step back due to its offensive losses in the offseason.

Saturday night halted those murmurs — at least for now.

Chase Fraser notched six points in his season debut, and Dhane Smith and Chris Cloutier also added six points apiece in Buffalo’s 16-10 besting of former East Division rival Georgia.

The Swarm made Buffalo sweat a bit after chiseling a 12-3 lead down to a five-goal deficit, especially after Matt Spanger took an ill-advised five-minute penalty in the closing minutes, but the Bandits escaped without too much fuss for their second win of the year.

Seals in a Hole

Closing out the weekend was a 12-9 victory for the Saskatchewan Rush, who never trailed against the San Diego Seals to win a second straight contest.

“We found ourselves chasing the game because we made mistakes we should be able to avoid,” Seals coach Patrick Merrill told John Jamison of NLL.com. “We played a good team, and they will make you pay for that.

Ben McIntosh had four goals and an assist, Mark Matthews had a goal and five assists and the defense held the opponent under 10 goals, something the unit has done in all three victories this season.

San Diego, the darling of the league in its first season, is now tied with the Warriors at the bottom of the West Division at 1-4.

Noteworthy

Rochester’s Shawn Evans surpassed 1,200 career points this week, becoming the sixth NLL player to achieve the feat. Halifax’s Ryan Benesch passed Lewis Ratliff to move into ninth all-time on the goal-scoring chart … Black Wolves GM Rich Lisk is leaving the Pack to take on a role at GF Sports, which owns the Riptide. New England coach Glenn Clark will take over GM duties … Rob Hellyer became the fifth player in Rock history to surpass 500 points in a Toronto uniform.

Up Next
All times EST

Friday
Colorado at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m.

Saturday
San Diego at Halifax, 6 p.m.
Calgary at Rochester, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia at New England, 7 p.m.
Toronto at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Georgia at New York, 7:30 p.m.
Colorado at Saskatchewan, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday
Rochester at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

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