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NLL Playoffs: Round 1 Mayhem

The NLL playoffs are always an incredible time of year. Anything can happen, as evidenced by the Colorado Mammoth’s win over the Saskatchewan Rush in OVERTIME! Catch up on last week’s NLL action below.

Colorado Mammoth defeat the Saskatchewan Rush 11-10 in Overtime

What a start to the NLL Playoffs! This game was as exciting and dramatic as it gets as the Mammoth surprised everyone with their come from behind overtime victory. The Rush looked like they were in control heading into the 4th quarter, but the Mammoth just seemed to want it more as they were more physical and just seemed to have an extra step. Ben McIntosh gave the home crowd some life as he was able to somehow scoop the ball out of the crease and tie the game up with less than a minute to in regulation. Thanks to the outstanding play of Dillon Ward in net and a Joey Cupido burying in overtime, the Mammoth silenced the crowd in Saskatoon and are moving on in the NLL playoffs to face the Calgary Roughnecks.

Buffalo Bandits defeat the New England Black Wolves 13-6

The Bandits were in control of this game from the start and were able to put away a good New England Black Wolves team. I was at this game and having the loud Banditland crowd on their side definitely gave the Bandits some extra juice to get the win. They were especially loud when Chase Fraser got into a scuffle and threw some punches, but went wild when Jordan Durston did his best Matt Vinc impression and made a save on a breakaway.

The Bandits were able to battle through several penalties and the runs the Black Wolves tried to get on as Callum Crawford had 4 goals on the night. Thanks to a well balanced play of the offense as well as an amazing performance by Matt Vinc in between the pipes the Bandits won their first playoff game since 2016. They now move on to play the Toronto Rock who have given them trouble all year.

Toronto Rock defeat the Georgia Swarm 16-14

We knew this game would be a good one and it did not disappoint as the Swarm still had a chance to tie in the last few minutes, but Toronto was able to hold the fort and escape Georgia with a playoff win. The flow of the game was disrupted several times early on because of long goal reviews and players were left waiting for play to start back up after just scoring a big goal. The Rock offense took advantage of Mike Poulin having an off night and were able to get on several big runs that the Swarm were not able to answer until the very end of the game. Lyle Thompson, Randy Staats, and Shayne Jackson did everything they could to try and tie up the game for the Swarm, but it just seemed to be the Rock’s night. Adam Jones and Tom Schreiber came to play on Monday night as Jonesy finished with 3 goals and 6 assists and Schreiber had 4 goals and 2 assists. Some D and transition guys also got into the mix with Brandon Slade and Brock Sorensen cashing in on fast breaks.

The Rock will now face a team they know very well in the Buffalo Bandits in what will be a must watch game this coming Saturday night.

nll playoffs
Photo: Mike McGinnis / National Lacrosse League

Calgary Roughnecks defeat the San Diego Seals 12-11

This game made for an exciting Monday night as this it went down to the wire with Calgary ultimately ending San Diego’s magical first season. I was 3 for 4 on my first round picks, but this was the only game I actually predicted the winner and the score correctly in my preview article. For most of the game I thought I would be wrong as it looked like the Seals were in control and had found their offensive rhythm again since losing rookie Austin Staats. The Seals got contributions from rookies like Connor Kearnan and Connor Fields, vets like Dan Dawson and Kyle Buchanan, and even their faceoff guy Brendan Clelland, but it was not enough to stop the Roughnecks.

Several penalties including two 5 minute major penalties by the Seals were a huge difference in this game as Calgary scored 4 of its 12 goals on the powerplay. The Roughnecks were able to come back after going down 10-7 at one point in the 3rd quarter. It also seemed like nothing was getting passed Christian Del Bianco at the end of the game as he swept aside several great chances by the Seals in the last minutes. Curtis Dickson would not be denied as he was just finding ways to beat his defender all game and he let a sneaky low to high shot go in transition that ended up being the game winner. The Roughnecks must now face a confident Colorado Mammoth team that took down the #1 seed Saskatchewan Rush.

The next round of the NLL playoffs start this Friday when the Calgary Roughnecks take on the Colorado Mammoth in the Western Division Final and continue on Saturday when the Buffalo Bandits host the Toronto Rock in the Eastern Division Finals.

Congratulations to the Saskatchewan Rush, New England Black Wolves, Georgia Swarm, and San Diego Seals on their great seasons.