Craig Point's two goals in minigame lift Rochester to third straight NLL title
Saturday, May 31, 2014 04:00 am
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The Rochester Knighthawks are the National Lacrosse League's newest dynasty.
Craig Point scored twice to lift the Knighthawks to a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Roughnecks in a 10-minute minigame after they had forced an extra session by winning Game 2 of the home-and-home set 16-10 in the Champion's Cup final Saturday.
The victory makes Rochester the first team to win three consecutive titles in the 28 years of indoor pro lacrosse.
"This team has come a long way," said Point. "(General manager) Curt (Styres) has built this team for so long.
"We've been together as a family for three or four years now. It's such a good feeling, just awesome, to win three in a row."
Joe Walters also scored for the Knighthawks after Shawn Evans and Curtis Dickson had staked the Roughnecks to a 2-0 lead in the minigame.
"We just tried to keep our composure," Point said of the two-goal hole. "Everyone knew what they had to do. Our defence had to play strong and our offence had to keep moving the ball and moving our feet. It paid off. The openings came and we capitalized on them."
Rochester improved to 11-0 at home since its last playoff loss in Blue Cross Arena, way back in 2004.
Evans beat goaltender Matt Vinc from in close at 2:42, Curtis Dickson made it 2-0 with an underhand rocket while running across the middle of the zone at 4:40 and, after Calgary survived a penalty against Curtis Manning, Point scored for Rochester at 7:46.
Most of the 9,188 fans were on their feet shouting for a tying goal, and Walters delivered. He sped across the middle of the zone and whipped a sidearm shot that goalie Mike Poulin got a piece of but could not stop from dribbling over the goal-line at 8:37.
"If I took my shirt off, it'd probably be wringing wet," Styres said of the minigame.
Point scored with a bounce shot what would stand as the winning goal at 9:01.
"All game, the coaches were saying, 'Go high, put it low,' and that's what I did and sure enough it went in," Point said of the biggest goal of his career.
Dan Dawson had a goal disallowed with 46 seconds left but the Knighthawks didn't need it — not after Vinc made two scintillating saves in the dying seconds.
"We never once panicked," said Rochester coach Mike Hasen. "We knew we'd get our opportunities and we snuck 'er out."
Vinc lauded Point's heroics that decided the championship.
"He's one of those guys who has a knack around the net," said Vinc. "He's a pure goal scorer. You can't give him time and room. He stepped up huge."
Calgary had won Game 1 by a 10-7 count at home the previous Saturday to kick off the new format.
"We've got nothing to be ashamed of," said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky after Rochester players were presented with the Champion's Cup. "Our guys battled. They competed hard. Rochester was better than we were in Game 2 and the minigame could have gone either way. We were two minutes and 14 seconds away from being successful. It's a tough pill to swallow."
In Game 2, Dan Dawson, Cody Jamieson and Stephen Keogh scored three goals each, Cory Vitarelli got two and Walters, Paul Dawson, Scott Self, Jon Sullivan and Point had one each for Rochester. Dickson and Jeff Shattler scored three each and Evans, Dane Dobbie, Daryl Veltman and Scott Ranger added one each for Calgary.
Dan Dawson's absence due to a concussion was a contributing factor in the Game 1 loss in Calgary and the return of one the sport's premier playmakers injected much-needed oomph into the offence. He didn't get a doctor's OK to play until just before game time.
"I couldn't get cleared for the first game and it was heartbreaking," said Dawson. "I pushed it and thank God we've got an amazing training staff and doctors who got me ready for this game."
With Dawson back in the lineup, Styres was optimistic.
"It was a relief," said Styres.
The Roughnecks also jumped to a 2-0 lead in the full game, but the score was tied at three after one quarter. Calgary went up 6-4 but Rochester led 7-6 at halftime.
Knighthawks defenceman Paul Dawson meanwhile was doing an effective job on Dobbie. The lefty was a 51-goal scorer during the regular season and had 11 more in the playoffs coming in but he wasn't getting many possessions with Dawson constantly on his right shoulder.
Vitarelli, with a sensational over-the-back goal, and Paul Dawson, with an end-to-end run, struck early in the third quarter. The Knighthawks kept the pressure on, even while down a man, to get their sixth straight goal. Self made it 10-6 when he intercepted a Veltman pass in his own end while killing a penalty and ran the floor to beat Poulin on a breakaway.
Calgary ended Rochester's run by scoring three times in the last five minutes of the third quarter to edge within 10-9 but Rochester went on another run to ensure the win and force the minigame.
"We just weren't able to seal the deal on the defensive end," Roughnecks captain Andrew McBride said after his team allowed the final three goals of the NLL season.
"It's tough to swallow that one," said Evans. "A couple of bounces didn't go our way and we didn't capitalize on power plays.
"When all is said and done, we played hard to the end. Unfortunately, we came up one goal short. It's tough."
NOTES: Rochester had an 11-9 edge in shots on goal in the minigame, while Calgary had a 48-46 shots edge in the full game . . . Rochester finished 2014 with a 12-1 home record . . . All of Rochester's players except Walters and backup goalie Angus Goodleaf are from Ontario . . . Calgary faceoff specialist Geoff Snider remained out. Also deleted were Tor Reinholdt and Matthew Dinsdale . . . Rochester scratched Joel McCready, Jamie Batson and Derek Hopcroft . . . Hasen and Malawsky were teammates in Rochester from 1999 through 2003.