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). Sorry for being a few days behind, folks. Hurricane Irma striking while trying to travel home put a damper on my work plans. That said, RBLL Minnesota might have pulled off the game of the season, read on to learn why!
There’s a short one up ahead, folks! Oregon takes a breather this weekend and only two of the eight Colorado squads hit the floor. Looking at RBLL Minnesota independently, we’re set for a barnburner! The Land of 10,000 Lakes is looking to be just a step away from finding their first state champion. If Hastings can pull off another win over Blaine, they’ll be the first team to punch a ticket to Nationals.
Sr. A: Buzz 11, Wolves 7 – 9/9
Ink it into the record books, the Denver Buzz have captured their first ever win in team history. The Wolves rolled in to the capital city looking for their own first W, and actually got the scoring started, but accuracy issues and strong goaltending from Josh McDougall (.806) shut it down.
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Paul Hummer got the game rolling, scoring the first two goals for the Wolves on either side of a Max Raynor tally for the Buzz. Locking the score at two, Reice Hendricks found success and swung momentum in favor of Denver. Three Buzz shooters followed the lead, hammering shots past Jake Henningman, for a 5-2 lead at the first intermission.
Come the second period, the game slowed down significantly on offense for both teams. Nothing was added to the scoresheet until nearly the 14th minute of the frame, Colorado Springs tacking on their only goal despite 14 shots. Without a point for over 17 minutes, Denver took it on themselves to keep the ball rolling. Three quick strikes tickled the twine, extending the difference to five goals at the end of the second.
The Wolves were down, but not out. Making it a hat trick, Paul Hummer got on the board to wake the Colorado Springs’ bench. Following suit, Nic Bevacqua nailed a timely strike, bringing their trailing score to, 5-8. Feeling the pressure, Kyle Foss and Max Raynor fought to get the Buzz back in the scoring column and away from danger.
Still not defeated, Bevacqua brought the Wolves back to life and Jamil Modaffari tried his best to keep the momentum with his first-ever goal. Yet, three goals in the final three minutes would become too tall of an order, especially against a hot goaltender. One last ball would make it into the back of the net, Hendricks charging one more to the Wolves’ tab and closing down the game on top, 11-7.
The Buzz would have the rest of the weekend to celebrate before getting back to work at practice. Their counterparts would have to ice up and pound water, facing yet another game the following evening in Parker.
Sr. A: Rangers 17, Stars 6 – 9/9
It was a HUGE weekend for last year’s defending champs, the Parker Rangers. They drew the opportunity to play two games in as many days and used the shot to rocket themselves to the front of the leaderboards. The Stars had been off the floor since the exhibition in Wyoming and it appears the downtime got the best of them.
The 2016 RBLL Colorado Championship rematch was a tight battle through the first 20 minutes, but that’s about it. Rob Milnes struck first, putting the Buzz up early, but it would be the only time all game. Enter former NLLer, Dan Finck. Striking early and often, Finck punched in four goals in 20 minutes, bringing the crowd and bench into the game. By the time Finck had #4, only three other shooters had any luck, two from Parker, one for Mile High. At that point, the rest of the Rangers decided to get in on the action.
Parker just kept peppering goaltender Brandon Scharaga (.667), and when facing 51 shots on goal, balls are going to find their way in. Nick Amendt took a walk in Finck’s shoes, racking up four of his own before the game expired.
Eight total Ranger shooters made their way into the books, four of which with multiple goals. On the opposite end, work was shared between four forwards, with Milnes as the only scorer striking more than once.
All chances of a comeback were thwarted early, with the Rangers completely pulling away in period three. Eight of the final ten goals were in favor of the defending champs. The penalty box stayed active for a majority of the game, each team collecting a solid handful of minutes throughout the contest. Despite the big win, the Rangers would be put to the test again the next night against Colorado Springs. Mile High turns focus to the Wolves this week in hope of collecting their first win of the season.
Sr. A: Rangers 17, Wolves 2 – 9/10
Well this looked absolutely nothing like the, 16-11, battle we watched between these two just a couple short weeks ago. That game was tilted in favor of the Rangers for 60 minutes, but this week’s meeting was an absolute blowout. Both teams were banging bodies the night before, giving only little time for recovery, but sharing experiences both teams can build off the next day.
Goaltender Chris Lyons was an absolute brick wall against the Wolves’ offense, completely shutting out the boys in the blue in the second and third periods, against 18 shots on target. Taking a hammering the night before, the Wolves didn’t seem to have enough time to reformulate the game plan. When the shots actually left the Wolves sticks, they weren’t the high percentage looks they were hoping for. On the other end, the Rangers were operating on an extremely high level. Parker was generating plenty of offense by keeping the ball moving and taking quality shots on cage. Needless to say, keeping the ball hot is always a good game plan.
Kicking off the game with an assist from Dan Finck, Tyler Snyder registered the first goal of the night. Finck would connect on one of his own moments later, and from there we would hear the two last names, over and over, through the contest. By the time is was said and done, Finck added 5 goals and 7 assists to his collection, while Snyder buried 4 clean goals of his own. Seven total shooters added to the Parker effort, while eleven total runners picked up at least one point.
Mark Stapor and Jamil Modaffari were the only Wolves with any success offensively for Colorado Springs. Goalie Garrett Fitzgerald (.875) was called to replace Jake Henningman (.643) and actually presented a strong effort for the Wolves. Although Fitzgerald only saw the last 20 minutes, he only allowed two balls to break the goal line. Taking a pair of landslide losses in one weekend isn’t easy to deal with, but Mile High didn’t have a great weekend either. Both teams are going to come ready for war this weekend, I’d keep it circled on the calendar.
Walleye 16, Lycans 15 – 9/9 – Game 5
This series has been, how the kids’ say, hot fire. These two squads were built to go to after it every weekend and proving that box lacrosse in Minnesota has a bright future. After the untraditional ending of last week’s game, both teams were eager to get another round. We can be sure that if you asked an fan leaving the Hastings Civic Center last weekend, they’d tell you this was the best one yet.
Up until the midpoint of the game, any betting man would wager on a beatdown by the Walleye. Out of seemingly nowhere, Luke Johnson stepped into the spotlight for Hastings with a quick goal, just 40 seconds in, and he wouldn’t slow down there. Johnson followed up with the second goal of the contest, with a first from Aime Caines on his trail. After 20 minutes, Hastings had a calm, 3-0, lead, with Johnson making it a hat trick to kick off the next frame.
After the stumbling start, Colin Hoch fired back for Blaine, scratching in their first point of the night. Johnson retaliated to assert his dominance, opening the gate for another from Caines and a Seth Noble goal in about a minute’s time. Down, 1-7, Blaine regrouped and got back to business. Alec Wroblewski and Jordan Roller landed punches back and fourth, until the tandem had the score at 5-7. Hoch followed the effort with another tally and suddenly we had a one goal game in Hastings.
Continuing to wear the backpack, Johnson pushed the difference back to two, but it would give enough of a buffer to hold back the Lycans. Another shot fell for Blaine, making way for Hoch to knot it up and Roller to give them their first lead. With just a few minutes left in the second, fans were treated to a game. From that point, it was a constant exchange of goals until the last minute and some change. Hastings was able to make the difference by connecting on consecutive goals, twice, while the Lycans couldn’t work out a two-goal streak more than once.
Hometown hero Mike Nogle had the breakout game he needed, racking up a hat trick and a strong performance on both sides of the ball. He was slightly outdone in the points columns by Aime Caines (3+4) and Luke Johnson (5+1), but his focus helped the fish capture the exciting victory. Jordan Roller and Alec Wroblewski mustered up hat tricks in the losing effort, while Colin Hoch led the way with 8 points. Despite the fight out of throse three, a drop off in stats from the rest of the team was too much weight for them to carry.
The comeback from Blaine tested Hastings, but the Walleye leadership was able to maintain focus and poise from their bench to earn the win. This weekend is do-or-die for the Lycans. With the Walleye owning 3 of 5 games, one more victory sends them to the first-ever IBLA National Championship in Colorado.
River Monsters 19, Mountaineers 7 – Game 4
Hands-down, this was an absolute spanking from the opening whistle. We have yet to see Beaverton stumble like this, giving Portland a, 3-1, series lead. Both teams get the week off to regroup and the Mountaineers are going to have to buckle down and pull it together. One more loss for Beaverton means Portland will be representing the RBLL Oregon at Nationals.
Lackluster effort from the entire Beaverton defensive side had an apparent effect on the outcome. From the start, Portland had free reign on the cage. Charlie White found the back of the net just 22 seconds in, and from there, the River Monsters never took their foot off the pedal. Before we could even hit the midpoint of the first quarter, Dakota Wolfe Norman was two goals deep, with effort from Kinnon Roy and Benton Souers accompanying him on either side. Following Portland’s five goal run, Martin Winter rang up the first goal for Beaverton, with a successful attempt by Patrick Verdun nearly 10 minutes later. The first connection from Wesley Vanden Brink would push the Portland lead to four before the period expired.
Net-minder Kyle Hamburger has been standing on his head as of late, no better illustrated than a shutout in the second. The period was fairly quiet on both ends, but it was Wolfe Norman and Roy both finishing hat tricks, and a solo shot from Jonah Mohawk to keep the momentum rolling.
Down 10-2, any chance of a Beaverton comeback was looking slim-to-none at the top of the frame. Scoring his first RBLL goal, Spencer Pregal struck first in the initial few seconds. From there, it opened the doors for two more strikes from Souers, Wolfe Norman, and Mohawk, while White and Vanden Brink each added one more to the total. The Mountaineers found a way to sling more rubber at Hamburger in the third period and their first double-digit shot count translated into five successful goals. Three different shooters were able to find the back of the net mid-period, with two late goals from Winter, but a ten point deficit would prove too hard to overcome.
By the end of 60 minutes, the River Monsters thrashed the Mountaineers, 19-7, and aligned themselves to be one win away from the big dance. Beaverton has the capability to succeed, but they’re stuck in cruise control when it’s time go fast. Goaltender Mike Phillips and the group in front of him have their work cutout over the next couple weeks if they want to climb out of the hole they’ve dug. We’ll wait until the 23rd to see how things shake out.
Mile High Stars at Colorado Springs Wolves – Senior A
Saturday, September 16th at 7:00 pm
Xfinity Arena – Colorado Springs, CO
Blaine Lycans at Hastings Walleye – Game 6
Friday, September 15th at 8:00 pm
Hastings Civic Arena – Hastings, MN