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). RBLL Colorado is on to the Front Range Cup, the Stars get the Rangers for the state’s bragging rights in a three-game series..
We’re almost there! One game away from finding out who will meet the Hastings Walleye and the Portland River Monsters for the very first IBLA Nationals. To get here, Mile High had to grind through a tough back-to-back slug-out with a desperate Buzz squad. Coming out on top, they’ve earned their shot at top-seeded Parker for the grand finale.
Sr. B playoffs get going this weekend in Colorado too, with the winner of Saturday morning’s game meeting the Parker Rangers that same evening. The evening game will be the first round of a best-of-three series for the league championship.
Before we get ahead, let’s rewind it back a bit. The regular season came to a close, and the playoffs began in one weekend. Isn’t that worth talking about?
Sr. A: Stars 18, Buzz 13 – 10/14
Knowing that the results of the game wouldn’t affect their playoff outcome, Mile High took the opportunity to call up a handful of players for experience. Denver, on the other hand, needed to keep the game within a 22 point margin and pickup momentum for the postseason. Although they couldn’t pull off a season-ending win, the Buzz fought off a rough first period to finish the contest within 5.
From the opening minute, to the closing seconds of the first period, the Stars laid a thrashing on the Buzz. After 20 minutes, Mile High was on a 9-0 run, Tyler Doskins had a hat trick already, while Max Abbott and Drew Lazar were both two deep, and a pair of other shooters added to the tally.
The tables completely turned in the second, starting for Denver in the opening minute with a Mitch Larson goal. Brandon Corbo would follow suit just minutes later, reaffirming the Buzz faith. Both teams would exchange blows back and forth, but after getting out shot, 19-6, in the first, Denver’s response was to win the second off 12 shots to Mile High’s 11, winning the period, 5-3.
After Denver got the last laugh in the second period, Mile High opened the final frame with three consecutive strikes, all from the stick of Drew Lazar, stretching to the halfway point. Trailing double-digits, the Buzz started playing for pride and tacking in one goal at a time. Six Denver shooters worked together for 8 goals, only allowing 2 from the opposition in the closing minutes.
When it was all said and done, 5 shooters ended with a 2 goal night, 8 total getting on the board for Denver on Saturday. They would need a complete team effort to prepare for the challenge of getting past a restocked Mile High squad the next night in the Wild Card round.
The Stars used the opportunity to rest stars like Brendan Anger and starting goaltender Brandon Scharaga. They allowed B-side netminder Scott Fields (.333) work for nearly 15 minutes, gaining experience behind Kevin Willey (.762), getting his first start.
Also getting the opportunity to see “A” action, Doug Naes, Bobby McMillon, Nick Cary, and Isaiah King also made the jump. On the other end, Drew Lazar had a monstrous night, putting in 6 goals and a pair of helpers to lead the team. Looking sharp for the postseason, Max Abbott (2+5), Rob Milnes (2+3), and Tyler Doskins (4+1) all notable contributions to the point-sheet.
The same twosome would have to work things out the next night for who would earn the right to move on to the Front Range Cup best-of-three finals.
Sr. A: Stars 22, Buzz 11 – 10/15
Like the regular season’s closer, this rematch of the previous night was tighter than some likely expected. Although the score reads an 11 goal differential, Denver hung closely with Mile High for the first stretch, putting up a respectable fight from the first-year club.
Carrying the Stars momentum from their impressive performances the previous night, Rob Milnes kicked off the scoring, with Drew Lazar not far behind. Anthony Solla and Mitch Larson had an answer for Denver, but Milnes was able to tuck another one between the Buzz scores.
Stepping in for his first of the playoffs, Brendan Anger got on the board, backed by another successful shot from Lazar. Not rollling over, Ander Blomquist tapped another in for Denver, but it was matched in the closing seconds with a Tyler Burgasser tally for Mile High.
Trailing by 3 after 20 minutes, Mitch Larson tried to lead by example, scoring in the first 10 second of the second for Denver. Not a fan of letting others gain any momentum, Anger proved his worth in about a minute’s time, with two back-to-back goals. Lazar wasn’t going to let Anger be the only guy with a hat trick, so he pinned in his third off the next draw. Riding the wave, Tyler Doskins rang up the 10th of the night for the Stars, now leading by 6.
Larson really wasn’t giving up on his men, pounding in his second, only to be met by a Miles-Anger-Lazar combo immediately after. Denver’s Brendan Corbo and Josh Davis would go back and forth with Brad McGowan and Milnes, but Abbott and Doskins would get tired of dancing and pushed the Stars lead to double-digits by the period’s end.
By the midway point, it was smooth sailing for the Stars. Using the backstretch to really tighten down the game plan, now staring down Parker for the RBLL Colorado Championship. The Buzz put up an honest fight, with Josh Davis earning his own hat trick, Mitch Larson making it four, and Riley Horton adding in his lone score of the night in the closing frame. Unfortunately for Denver, Abbott also felt the need to make it a hat trick kind of night, Milnes racked up his 5th goal and 5th assist, and Burgasser and David Laroach had something to say before the Wild Card could come to a close.
At this point, we all need to take the Mile High offense seriously as they charge at Parker in the finals. Rob Milnes (5+5) was a wrecking ball on Sunday, collecting 10 well divided points, to lead the offense. But, he wasn’t by any means alone. Drew Lazar (4+2) and Brendan Anger (4+2) had rock-solid 6 point showings, with Max Abbott (3+1), Tyler Burgasser (2+2), and Tyler Doskins (2+1) all helping to carry the weight.
Strong between the irons, Brandon Scharaga (.767) took on 3/4th of the game, turning away 23 of 30 Buzz attempts, with Kevin Willey (.692) closing up shop with another 9 saves. They’re going to need everything they can get out of their goaltending to hold off the Rangers in Game 1 this weekend.
The win earned Mile High the right to meet Parker, once again, for the Front Range Cup. Sunday night, the Stars will travel to meet the Rangers and it will take every little bit of that offensive firepower to get the job done.
Buzz GM Mitch Larson was nothing but positive when speaking on Denver’s first season in the league. “With this year being the first year of the team, everyone began to understand box and where to look, be, and set picks. Which is exactly what you need for a first year team. Everyone showed great promise and potential to become great players, which is exciting to see out of first year players!”
When looking ahead to the 2018 campaign, Larson said, “We are looking forward to the growth of the league and the introduction of new players. It’s all about growing the game and the spreading the love of box lacrosse.”
Mile High’s Brendon Anger still has his concentration on the big showdown with Parker. “It’s been a great experience so far, and with playoffs on the horizon, I am looking forward to see what’s in store for the league. Playing for the Stars.. us going into playoffs, we need to stay focus on what we practiced: moving the ball and strong defense. Our focus is on Parker and feel we have a chance. We definitely will need good goaltending out of our goalies, but think have a legitimate chance to beat Parker.”
RBLL Colorado Championship – Game 1
#1 Parker Rangers (6-0) vs. #2 Mile High Stars (4-2)
Sunday, October, 22nd – 7:00 pm
Parker Fieldhouse – Parker, CO
A rematch of the inaugural Front Range Cup, the Rangers and Stars square off in the three-game grand finale for the second year in a row. Parker had the week off to keep the focus and watch Mile High battle through their double-header with Denver. While the Buzz gave them a test, the Stars tightened up some weak points and ramped up the offense to take a run at the Rangers.
The pairing met twice in the regular season, Parker dominating the first round, 17-6, on 9/9. Twenty-one days later they went for seconds, this time Mile High was ready for all ten rounds, but came up short by just two scores, 10-8.
Is the third time a charm? Find out for yourself, in Parker, Sunday night.
Hastings Walleye won RBLL Minnesota in six games over Week 6. Along with Portland, they’ll await a RBLL Colorado champion to meet at Nationals.
Portland River monsters won RBLL Oregon in five games over Week 7. Along with Hastings, they’ll await a RBLL Colorado champion to meet at Nationals.
RBLL Colorado – Sr. B
Mile High Stars at Denver Buzz
Saturday, October 21st at 10 am
Apex Fieldhouse – Denver, CO
Best of 3 Championship Series
Stars/Buzz Winner vs Parker Rangers
Saturday, October 21st at 7 pm
Foothills Fieldhouse – Denver, CO
Portland River Monsters win series, 4-1.
Portland will meet the winner of RBLL Colorado on November 4th, 3:20 pm, at the Foothills Fieldhouse in Denver, CO.
Hastings Walleye wins seires, 4-2.
Hastings will meet the winner of RBLL Colorado on November 4th, 7:00 pm, at the Foothills Fieldhouse in Denver, CO.