Arena League Championship

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.

First Stanza

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

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.