It was week zero for the NLL playoffs this week. With so many games having playoff implications, including a “win or go home” game that went to overtime, this weekend was a must watch for fans. The Albany Firewolves and Philadelphia Wings had some fantastic games with playoff implications. Here is your review of the Week 22 season finale.
Halifax (13) – Rochester (10)
Halifax outscored the Knighthawks 6-0 in the fourth quarter to comeback and defeat the Knighthawks in Blue Cross Arena.
Rochester jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Jared Conners (his first career goal) and Ryland Rees. Halifax battled back and was able to tie it just before halftime thanks to two goals by Chris Boushy to make it 7-7 at the break. Halifax was blanked 3-0 in the third quarter by Rochester, but found their stride in the fourth scoring three goals in a span of 40 seconds to tie it at 10. They never looked back and secured a 13-10 win.
Eric Fannel finished with 6 points (1G, 5A) and Jake Withers had 15 loose balls in the victory.
Philadelphia (11) – Georgia (10)
Philadelphia outlasts Georgia with a playoff spot on the line at Gas South Arena with an 11-10 victory in overtime as Blaze Riorden went full extension to beat Mike Poulin for the win.
Georgia and Philadelphia went back and forth all game, as no team led by more than three at any point in the contest. In the third quarter, Lyle Thompson scored two goals within a minute to give the Swarm an 8-5 lead. At that moment it seemed like Georgia was going to pull away with the game, but Philadelphia went on a five goal run to take a 10-8 lead late into the fourth. With under three minutes left, Georgia was able to tie it up thanks to Stephan Lablanc and TJ Comizio. Both teams had chances to end the game in the waning moments, but were unable to capitalize.
The Swarm started overtime on the powerplay but couldn’t take advantage of the man-up situation. After making a save, Zach Higgins launched an outlet pass too far ahead of Riorden, but he was able to secure it near the boards. Instead of waiting for reinforcements, Riorden went to the net and went full superman to score the game winner helping the Wings clinch the final NLL playoff spot.
Albany (17) – New York (9)
The Firewolves clinched a postseason berth in their first season in Albany after defeating the Riptide 17-9. The Firewolves previously played in Albany years ago, so a playoff berth in the franchises’ return home is certainly a treat.
Callum Crawford opened up the scoring to give New York a quick 1-0 lead and they would not trail the entire first half. The Albany Firewolves used a huge second half, going on a 9-0 run to go up 15-6 before the Riptide scored with just over six minutes left to play. New York scored a couple goals late to make the score look a little more respectable, but it was all Firewolves as they prepare for Buffalo in the first round in the playoffs.
Joe Resetartis had a monster game with 11 points (5G, 6A) and Andrew Kew had 7 points (5G, 2A) in the victory, while Jeff Teat led the Riptide with 5 points (1G, 4A). The Firewolves will be entering the playoffs with a ton of momentum as they look to bring an NLL title to Albany.
Toronto (10) – Buffalo (7)
Both Buffalo and Toronto had little to play for on Saturday, as both teams were already locked into their playoff positions, as the Rock pulled away to defeat the Bandits 10-7.
It was a tale of two halves in KeyBank Center, as the Bandits led 5-1 at halftime. Toronto needed a huge second half performance from Nick Rose to shut down the Bandits offense which is what they got. This would allow the Rock offense to retake the lead and pull away in the fourth quarter.
Nick Rose had 49 saves in the victory and Challen Rogers had 4 points (3G, 1A) in the victory. Josh Byrne had 3 points (2G,1A) in the loss.
Saskatchewan (13) – Panther City (9)
The Rush finish their season with a four-game win streak as they defeat Panther City 13-9 in Dickies Arena Saturday night.
In the only other game without playoff implications, the Rush were able to suffocate the Panther City offense in the second half, giving up one goal in their season finale. The Rush opened up the scoring with two powerplay goals to give the Rush an early 2-0 lead. Panther City answered back though and took a 4-3 lead after one quarter. Panther City never trailed in the second quarter and went into halftime with an 8-7 lead.
The Rush outscored Panther City 5-1 in the second half to end the season on a high note. Ryan Keenan finished with a hat trick and five point total, while Will Malcom led Panther City with 4 points (1G, 3A) in the loss.
Calgary (14) – Colorado (11)
Calgary used a big second quarter to pull away from Colorado and clinch the second seed in the West Division on Saturday night.
Curtis Dickson opened up the scoring with a powerplay goal less than a minute into the game to give Calgary a quick 1-0 lead. After Zed Williams tied it up, the two teams went back and forth with Dickson ending the quarter the same way he started it and tying the game at 3-3. Dickson continued the hot start scoring four consecutive goals to open the second frame. Calgary tacked on two more to outscore the Mammoth 6-0 in the second quarter and led 9-3 at the half.
After Calgary extended the lead to 12-5 after the third, Colorado stormed back with six straight goals to cut the Calgary lead down to one. The Roughnecks closed out the game by adding two empty net goals to secure the victory.
Dickson finished with 8 points (6G, 2A) in the victory and Ryan Pace had 6 points (3G, 3A) in the loss. The two teams will meet next week in an opening round playoff matchup.
San Diego (10) – Vancouver (9)
The Seals finally ended their losing streak and defeated the Vancouver Warriors on Saturday night to clinch the top seed in the West Division by a final score of 10-9 in Rogers Arena. The Seals were able to get back to their winning ways, even with coach Patrick Merrill out due to COVID-19 protocols.
The Seals opened up the game with a powerplay goal, but still found themselves trailing after the first quarter 4-3. After Bret Hickey scored a goal to give San Diego a lead in the second quarter, the Seals continued to battle with Vancouver as they kept responding and kept the game close throughout the second half. The Seals were able to score the games only fourth quarter goal, and Frank Scigliano was able to keep Vancouver off the scoreboard in the final quarter.
Casey Jackson finished with a hat trick and Austin Staats led all scorers with 7 points (2G, 5A), while Reid Bowering had a huge performance with 23 loose balls and added a goal.