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). A champion has been crowned in the RBLL Minnesota, but the other two are still anyone’s to win!
There’s another short weekend on the horizon, folks! The RBLL Minnesota series could have extended one game further, but Hastings decided to wrap things up by winning Game 6 of the series. With their 4th win, the Walleye have punched their tickets to the first-ever IBLA Nationals, to be held early November in Colorado.
Hastings is in, Portland could earn their spot with a win on Saturday, and Colorado is any team’s to win. Before we get to the big ones in Denver and Beaverton, let’s rewind a bit, shall we?
Sr. A: Stars 16, Wolves 9 – 9/16
It took only two games. After a meeting with one of the expansion teams, the Colorado Springs Wolves, the Mile High Stars have registered their first win of the 2017 season. The Stars bounced back from Parker’s thrashing with a strong response of their own, despite what Paul Hummer was trying to pin against them.
Hummer had a big night for the Wolves, leaving everything on the floor in an attempt to close the gap. The game’s first goal was credited to Hummer, just a minute in, but by the time he rang up his second halfway through the second period, the Stars amassed an 8-1 run. Seven different Mile High shooters found the back of the net in the run, only Rowan Sloss would connect twice. By scoring three goals in 90 second increments, twice, the Stars owned a strong, 8-2, lead. Wolves’ own Jamil Modaffari snuck a ball in before the end of the first frame, along with Hummer’s first as their only two points for roughly 28 minutes of gameplay.
The only Colorado Springs names you’d hear through the PA for the rest of the night would be Paul Hummer and Nick Bevacqua. Hummer struck again, with Bevacqua hot on his trail, closing the gap to 8-4. Tyler Burgasser slung in his second for the Stars at the period’s midpoint, only to be followed two more from Hummer, bringing the deficit to 3.
Following Hummer’s 4th connection, Rowan Sloss and Brendon Anger would fire up the Stars faithful by each polishing off their own hat tricks, while Max Abbott punched in two of his own in the run. Aided by transition man Daniel Henhawk’s sole tally of the game, the Stars drove off with a, 15-6, lead by the time the final 10 minutes rolled around.
At that point, starting net-minder Brandon Scharaga was relieved to allow back-up Kevin Wiley to see some live action. Scharaga turned away 29 of the 35 balls he faced, drastically improving from .667 against Parker, to .829 over Colorado Springs. With fresh meat in the crease, Hummer took the opportunity to pad his stats with a 5th goal, before assisting Bevacqua on the next one. Bevacqua would round the corners for another late tally, just a minute later, but 15-9 would be as close as it got. Adding his name to the scoresheet, Henry Sulzbacher touched in his first goal of the season to close the game for the Stars, 16-9.
It’s now do-or-die for Colorado Springs. With only a single win in five of their first RBLL Colorado games, the Wolves are one loss away from being eliminated from the three-team state playoff.
Walleye 16, Lycans 11 – 9/15 – Game 6
They did it! Hastings is the first team in the entire country to earn the right to complete for an IBLA National Championship. The Walleye pulled away victorious in the inaugural battle for Minnesota, laying claim as the top team in the Twin Cities. With the win, they own the rights to the inaugural Blue Lakes Championship Cup. The trophy was named in homage of the RBLL Colorado’s Front Range Cup, paying tribute to local geography.
Although the score showed a 5 goal difference, the game wasn’t titled in favor of the Walleye through all 60 minutes. The Lycans’ Colin Hoch kicked the night off less than a minute in to get the game rolling. Fate would be cruel to Blaine, as starting net-minder Tyler Schmitz would be forced to exit the floor after 4 saves, no goals against, with an untimely leg injury.
Nearly 8 minutes past before Luke Johnson answered the call for Hastings, but Alec Wroblewski was there to steal the lead back just moments later. Johnson reared his head once again, registering his, and the team’s, second goal of the night. Back swings Jordan Roller for Blaine, and the leads was theirs once more. Making it a game, Charlie Gee found net to force the tie, before Andrew Peterson could sneak a late ball into the goal with just a second left in the first, taking a, 4-3, lead for Hastings.
In the first 30 seconds of the following period, Johnson dropped back in to complete a hat trick. The two goal lead was quickly cut to one, Ben Fairbanks chipping in to keep the Blaine fire raging. Somehow the Lycans’ strike opened the floodgates for the first Walleye surge of the evening. Fearless leader Aime Caines buried back-to-back tallies, with a pair of Hastings’ shooters hot on his trail, posting a four goal run for a five point lead.
Roller came back for more, breaking up the spree with a much-needed score, only to awaken the Walleye for another three in a row. After the third, Nolan Hrastich stormed in with a late second period response, proving Blaine was down, but not out. The opening moments of the final frame brought new air into the Lycans’ lungs. Alec Wroblewski rode the momentum for the first strike, aided by another quick one moments later. Following up for a hat trick, Roller notched his third just seconds later, but a 9 goal break would stand before Roller would connect again. With Blaine now down by only two goals, the fans were coming back into the game and Hastings took notice.
Playing hero, Luke Johnson stepped up for two quick goals on the tail end of the Lycans streak. To keep full-steam ahead, Luke Nelson ratcheted in the 15th Walleye point, with roughly 5 minutes left in the contest. Fairbanks showed back up for Blaine, attempting to relight the fire and save the season. Unfortunately for the Lycans, Peterson was right on his heels to complete his own hat trick, closing out the season with the Walleye on top one last time, 16-11.
As a best of 7 series, Hastings took the title by winning 4 of 6 games, giving them the magic number of wins to see the postseason. With the series decided, there will be no need for a Game 7, originally schedule for this weekend. The Walleye will now set their sights on tightening everything up in practice to prepare for Nationals.
Hastings has earned the right to compete in the first-ever IBLA Nationals in Colorado. The Walleye have confirmed their attendance and will continue practicing for the event.
Effective immediately, Parker Rangers’ own Tyler Snyder will be assuming the role of Director of Player Development. Snyder will oversee league deadlines on rosters, transactions, and player/team relations. The IBLA has shown great excitement for a leader like Tyler to come onboard and help grow box lacrosse in the United States.
Special rates for hotels and accommodations at the 2017 IBLA Nationals in Colorado are now available. Visit the IBLA Nationals website for rates and booking information. The events will take place November 4th and 5th at the Foothills Fieldhouse in Denver.
Denver Buzz at Mile High Stars – Senior A
Saturday, September 23rd at 7:00 pm
Foothills Fieldhouse – Denver, CO
Portland River Monsters at Beaverton Mountaineers – Game 5
Saturday, September 23rd at 8:10 pm
Indoor Goals – Beaverton, OR
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.