Author’s Note: Through the 2017 season, we’ve partnered with the Interstate Box Lacrosse Association (IBLA) to give you an inside look at what’s going on in all three Regional Box Lacrosse Leagues (RBLL). It’s all said and done, with the Parker Rangers coming out on top of the Front Range Cup, Platte Cup, and National Championship.
After twelve weeks, we finally had a RBLL champion from all three states: Colorado, Minnesota, and Oregon. Hastings was the first to punch their ticket, with Portland close on their heels. Then the Parker Rangers stormed back on Mile High after dropping Game 1 of the Colorado finals to earn their spot in the first-ever IBLA National Championship.
Three teams met in the Foothills Fieldhouse in Denver for the two day event, while the RBLL Colorado B side finish their playoffs too. We had an exciting weekend of lacrosse in the Centennial State, with Parker coming out as overall champs, twice.
Parker Rangers 17, Portland River Monsters 6
Parker wasted no time proving that they are one of the top box lacrosse clubs the country has ever seen. Setting the tone early of what their talent is capable of, the Rangers had two goals before the second minute ticked away. Portland found a way to scratch three tallies onto the scoresheet, amongst constant pressure on both ends. Yet, five others guys were also having success, pushing the score to 6-3 before the intermission.
Down three, Portland appeared to still be capable of firing back a response in the second. That was until Parker punched in three more unanswered goals, knocking the wind completely out of the Portland sails. The River Monsters would finally get an answer from Ryan Emery to momentarily stop the bleeding, until the Rangers packed in another pair of goals to close the period out, 11-4.
The final 20 minutes was another dominating performance, kicking off with a natural hat trick from team leader Dan Finck, giving him four goals in the game. Nick Amendt found a way to punch in another two, giving him a team-high five total by game’s end. Taking a break from scoring to distribute the wealth, Tyler Snyder collected a modest two goals, over 40 minutes apart, to end game one of the weekend.
Constant attack pressured the River Monsters all game and in the second frame, the wheels started to fall off the bus. Two late goals would make their way into the net before closing, but they would be no more than moral support in the double-digit loss. Portland’s Kyle Hamburger had yet another strong game for the boys in black, but facing 55 shots is a tall order for any goalie.
Parkers started Chris Lyons in the crease, but allowed B starter Derek Derner to finish out the game, allowing a learning opportunity for everyone. It would also be necessary to rest Lyons, allowing him to regroup if needed in the Hastings showdown just a few short hours later.
Parker Rangers 16, Hastings Walleye 5
Although Parker had just run a full-length game, they had to find their legs for another battle, four hours after the start of the last one. Tired, but not exhausted, the Rangers didn’t come out with the same aggression, but their sheer talent alone carried the locals to their second commanding performance of day one.
The start wasn’t as slow as you would imagine from a team in a double-header. Yet, after 20 minutes the score read 10-0, with Parker ready to put the game in cruise control. Monte Montgomery got the call to start for the Rangers and he made the best of the opportunity by shutting out the Walleye until the first minute of the second period.
Once RJ Ancona struck to open the frame, it took nearly 9 minutes for Mike Nogle to follow up with their second score. Parker didn’t get back on the board until Mike Synek tapped his first in at the 15th minute. Nogle fired back with an answer, but the score was still separated, 11-3. Synek continued to fight for the Rangers offense, connecting on two more shots before the end of the frame, with Tyler Snyder’s second falling in the closing minute.
Up, 14-3, with 20 minutes remaining, Parker started to cool off while coasting out the rest of Saturday. Dan Finck would sling in his fourth and fifth scores as the only tallies of the final period. Nogle continued to fight for pride and to get his team focused on Sunday, making it a hat trick with a late goal before game’s end. Also fighting until the very end, Luke Nelson would add to the sum for Hastings, still too little too late.
Parker could hang their hats on the performance of strong goaltending and lockdown defense. Hastings struggled for 60 minutes to pull any high quality shots off on Montgomery, while Seth Scott was tasked with facing 51 shots, of which he still thwarted 35 attempts in the game. Winning day one, 33 to 11, Parker could more than ready for a run at the Championship game on Sunday afternoon, while Portland and Hastings had to fight through one more round for a rematch at the Rangers.
Walleye 12, River Monsters 2
After taking a punch in the mouth from the Rangers on Saturday night, the Walleye came back to life and ran with their plan Sunday morning. Coming out hot, Hastings dominated from start and held Portland to a goose egg through the opening period. Mike Nogle led the way for the Minnesota group, scoring a natural hat trick before anyone else got started. Two more shooters would find success, while Nogle hit his fourth, making it 6-0 after 20 minutes of action.
Ryder Cochrane put Portland on the board to kick off the second, only to be followed by four more from the Walleye. Ahead, 10-1, heading into the final frame, the Walleye stayed moving but also began to cool down a bit as they knew they’d meet Parker in the Championship.
Nogle tacked in one more before it was all said and done, with a second from RJ Ancona, reaching the 12 goal mark. A late rally from Jonah Mohawk would give the River Monsters their second, and final, goal of the night, ending on a positive note.
It could have been much worse for the Oregon natives if it wasn’t for another strong performance from netminder Kyle Hamburger. Hamburger fought off 75% off the near 50 shots he had to stare down that morning. But, he wasn’t the only River Monster to show signs of brilliance for the future, with Mohawk, Emery, Mohr, and Morris all making significant strides to elevate their games.
Expect Portland to lower their heads in the offseason and get to work. With so much talent on the floor, the focus will be fine-tuning how they operate and mimicking the game-plan of Parker to reach success at the national level.
Opposite goaltender, Seth Scott, had an exceptional morning between the irons, sending away 28 of 30 looks, allowing no more than a goal per period. He has a strong defensive group to thank, forcing shots to the outside and making sure Portland got no easy looks at the cage. By game’s end, six different runners had a multi-point game for Hastings.
Rangers 22, Walleye 2 – Championship
Taking advantage of the morning off and two commanding wins the day before, Parker came into the IBLA Championship with a defined plan for execution, and that’s just what they did. In one of the best shooting nights all season for the Rangers, they picked apart the Minnesota champs, one goal after another.
On the opposite of the floor, the aggressive and poised Parker defensive unit made it a struggle for the Walleye to pull off many quality shots. Hastings was also without regular season leader, and former pro, Aime Caines, on the floor all weekend. The missing leadership from the former NLL assistant coach was clearly detrimental to the focus and offensive abilities of the entire team.
To date, the Rangers have capture every possible trophy in the past two seasons of existence. Setting the bar high, teams now know what it’s going to take to find similar success. If the roster can stay intact, Parker should continue to improve too. That’s a positive sign for the growth of box lacrosse in the United States.
Sr. B – RBLL Colorado
Parker 21, Denver 9 – Championship
Could it be the start of a dynasty? Not only did Parker clean house on the “A” side, but when it came to the Platte Cup, no one had an answer for the Rangers. Once again, Ben Weisz was able to lead his squad to another big win, whole Derek Derner was beyond solid when keeping rubber out of the net. The Rangers used their fourth win of the season to capture the RBLL Colorado’s first Platte Cup title, marking a perfect 4-0 season. Through the 2017 season, Parker outscored opponents, 78-41, owning every category for leading the league.
We can’t forget the efforts of the Denver Buzz to make it to the finale in their inaugural season. Finding a groove mid-season, the Buzz dug in their heels and started to make a name for themselves. Come playoff time, they unexpectedly upset the Mile High Stars to earn a shot at the league title. If the Denver group keeps up the effort, they’ll be a force to reckon with for years to come.
The IBLA is gearing up for expansion through the offseason and the first official moves comes with the addition of the Lakeville Lumberjacks to the RBLL Minnesota. Led by General Manager Tyler Schmitz, the new team to the scene will immediately begin preparations to build up the club and awareness for the game. First order of business was naming the 1,000 seat Lakeville Hasse Arena as the home barn for the coming season. Welcome to the IBLA, Lumberjacks!
Championship weekend was a huge success for the IBLA and it wouldn’t have been capable without the players and all of the fans. Support came in droves from both Minnesota and Oregon to back their squads, an incredible sight in the first installment of Nationals. It was an truly special event, as players from all three teams met with new and familiar faces. The event was also a litmus test for everyone else to know where they need to be if they expect to win the national title.
With the positivity from the 2017 event, the IBLA Nationals will move to Minnesota for the 2018 installment. We’ll see you all in the Land of 10,000 Lakes next year!