Kevin M. Neibauer
LaxPhilly- A Division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network.
After starting the season at 5-2, the Grizzlies proceeded to drop their final five to finish in third place.
One of their leaders, Steve McKinlay missed a chunk of the season including the Grizzlies playoff win of a week ago.
“It gives me a heavy heart (to miss games) but seeing the guys come through with the win last week to extend the season and to be able to play today (is great),” he said. “Every time you get to come to the arena and play lacrosse is awesome.” Steve McKinlay.
The Grizzlies win gave them a date with the Sea Spray in the inaugural Arena Lacrosse League West Championship
Both goaltenders, Brandon Humphrey for the Sea Spray and Matteo Tack as well as McKinlay took center stage in the Grizzlies Game one, 9-8 win.
Those three and the Sea Spray propensity for taking penalties.
How Did It Break Down?
A tight defensive battle witnessed only six first half goals with three in each quarter.
It took just forty seconds for James Baker (2g,2a) to convert off a pretty set up from McKinlay and Aidan Baker (4a) that gave the Grizzlies the early advantage.
Dalton Lupul (3g) evened the score at 10:44 on a transition goal started with Matteo Tack (1a) hitting Gordie Phillips (1a) who hit Lupul in stride.
McKinlay and James Baker went back at it setting up Brian Smith for his first of two to close the opening stanza with a Grizzlies 2-1 lead.
To the Second
The special teams reared its head with Erik Maas (2g, 3a) netting a man up marker set up by Kieran McKay as well as Aidan Baker.
Four minutes and ten seconds later, Keegan Bell (3g) matched the power play tally with an unassisted goal.
John Hofseth (1g) made it two in a row for the Spray to end the second with a 3-3 game.
To the Third
Things began to open up on the offensive side of the ball.
Tyler Kirkby and Connor Goodwin (2a) exploited a defensive breakdown with Bell reaping the reward.
Special teams came to the forefront starting with Aidan Baker and Erik Maas working the perimeter before finding Kieran McKay (1g,2a) on the man up to get it tied at 4-4.
A very unusual turn of events unfurled with the Spray making a splash with not one but, two shorthanded goals, on the same penalty!
Dalton Lupul from Eli Batt (2a) at 3:10 quickly followed with Kirkby and Goodwin setting up Bell just thirty seconds later.
Keeping the party going, Andrew Gresham (1g,1a) scored off a passing play from McKay and McKinlay to end the half with a 6-5 Sea Spray advantage.
The Stage is Set for a Wild Finish..
James Baker kept the special teams party going when he converted an Andrew Gresham feed for the fifth combined man up tally.
Lupul broke the 6-6 tie off a nice pass from Eli Batt (2a).
3:05 later, Brian Smith brought it back even, this time at 7-7.
Then….the fireworks .
With 2:24 remaining, Tyler Kirkby (1g,2a) scored with help from Brendan Szabo (1a) and David Byrne (1a) to supply what seemed to be the game clincher.
If you thought that…think again.
Erik Maas got us to familiar ground, tied up with help from the Fabulous Baker Boys, James and Aidan.
Crucial times create bring out the best in leaders.
The biggest goal in the short history of the Grizzlies came with :33 to play, supplied by McKinlay (1g, 4a) to give the Grizzlies a 1 game lead.
“I picked the ball up in the lefty shooter spot and just went hard under the net, Coach T (Tewanee Joseph) has been saying the goalie has been going low all game, so I (faked) one low and came over the top,” McKinlay said of the winning goal.
Game Two, should the Spray win there will be a fifteen minute mini game to provide the first Champion in the short history of the Arena League West
News and Notes:
• Bell’s three goals came of three different varieties, Even Strength, Power Play and Short Handed.
• Shots were 58-51 favoring the Spray..
• Brandon Humphrey stopped 50 for the Grizzlies. Matteo Tack was equally solid stopping 42 for the Spray.
• Gordie Phillips supplied an assist and dominated going 13 of 20 from the dot.
• The Grizzlies went 4 for 8 while the Spray were 1 for 3 on the advantage with the Spray nailing a pair of shorthanded markers.
Quotes Courtesy of the Arena League West.
Grizzlies Win Game One of Champiinship
Kevin has followed and promoted the game of lacrosse since May 19, 1974.
The same day the Philadelphia Flyers won the Cup, the Philadelphia Wings were introduced to Neibauer and Philadelphia.
Kevin has covered many sports, including baseball, football, basketball, and.. lacrosse. A former licensed football referee and baseball umpire, Kevin brings a unique insight to his game coverage.
A published writer in JustHockey Magazine, Kevin covered the American Hockey League as well as a monthly story on a pugilist where Kevin used the pen name, The Rink Rat. Neibauer turned his attentions to lacrosse for a few years and does his part, whether podcasting or writing to grow the game. Kevin branched out to his roots and currently provides insight for all Philadelphia teams for Edge of Philly as well as his full-time duties with LaxPhilly.