Lacrosse Editorial – NLL Semi-Finals – Everything for Everyone

During the season, you continually heard me comment about parity in the league, and having the greatest players in the world.  This past weekend showed just how true those statements were. 

We had two Semi-Final games, both yielding many goals, many spectacular saves, breathtaking plays, and heart stopping finishes. 

The West:

San Diego’s offense was off to an explosive start at Pechanga Arena, scoring nine goals in the first half. The team couldn’t maintain their momentum, allowing a 5-1 run from Colorado in the third. The Mammoth’s third-quarter lead ultimately sealed the deal for the visitors, who took the first game in the best-of-three series.

Good news for the Seals was the production of their offense.  Dane Dobbie (3g,4a), Casey Jackson (2g,1a), Austin Staats (1g,4a), and Jeremy Noble (1g,4a) hit the score sheet.  They also got production from their transition team with Tre Leclaire (2g,1a), and Patrick Shoemay (1g,0a).

Colorado had some tough news before the game when Ryan Lee, their offensive leader, was scratched from the lineup.  The team pulled together, and got production from others on the offense.  Zed Williams (5g,1a) led the team, with Connor Robinson (4g,2a), and Eli McLaughlin (3g,5a) to take the pressure off.  Joey Cupido chimed in with a transition goal, and Colorado was able to come away with the 14-12 victory, and a 1-0 series lead.

The East:

If you thought the west game was high octane, you needed a safety belt to watch the Toronto Rock vs. the Buffalo Bandits. 

This game had everything! Back and forth action, high scoring, highlight reel goals, physicality, and great saves.  The Bandits outlasted the Rock 18-17, with the game coming down to the very final seconds. 

Proving that this is a game of runs, the Bandits got on a three goal run, followed by the Rock with a five goal run.  Buffalo wouldn’t be out done, they had a five goal run of their own, all before the half.

The second half had the Rock get on a six goal run, followed by another five goal run by the Bandits.  Toronto brought it within a goal with 10.4 seconds left.  Winning the faceoff, Toronto brought the ball into Buffalo territory, Rob Hellyer got off a shot, hit the post, Dan Craig was unable to get the rebound on his stick and deposit in the open side of the net.  A frantic finish to a crazy game.

The big guys on both teams accounted for the scoring.  Josh Byrne (4g,7a), Dhane Smith (3g,7a), Chase Fraser (2g,2a), Chris Cloutier (3g,2a), and Connor Fields (2g,2a) accounted for most of the Bandits scoring.  Zach Manns (4g,1a), Tom Schreiber (3g,5a), Dan Craig (2g,4a), Rob Hellyer (2g,3a), Justin Scott (2g,3a), and Challen Rogers in transition, (3g,2a) accounted for the majority of the Rock goals.

The odd thing in this game, was that two of the top goalies for “Goaltender of the Year” were in the nets.  Both Matt Vinc (Buffalo), and Nick Rose (Toronto) boasted a goals against average of close to .800 throughout the year, making this an even odder game.

State of the Union on Scoring in the League:

If anyone was worried about goal scoring being down around the league, this weekend should put an exclamation point that scoring is alive and well.  The creativity, as well as the sheer speed, and finesse should be impressive to everyone.

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.