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Roughnecks defeat Titans to win second NLL championship

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The Canadian Press
5/16/2009 1:17:26 AM
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CALGARY -- Josh Sanderson, Dane Dobbie, and Bruce Codd each scored twice Friday night as the Calgary Roughnecks won their second National Lacrosse League championship winning 12-10 over the New York Titans.

Also adding three assists, Sanderson was named the game's most valuable player.

It was the first time in NLL history that the top seeded teams from both the West and East Division had made it through to meet for the Champion's Cup and the marquee matchup did not disappoint.

The entertaining back-and-forth game featured a mix of spectacular goals, acrobatic goaltending, and an intensity at both ends of the floor that left the Pengrowth Saddledome crowd of 13,042 thoroughly entertained.

"It was just awesome," said Sanderson.

"We knew we were going to have to fight through some adversity. We thought we got a little spoiled there 17-5, 15-8 (the scores in the first two playoff games), we knew that wasn't going to be the case tonight, they have too many weapons.

"They have an offence like us, they have six guys that can put the ball in the net so we knew they were going to score a couple here and there and we just had to bounce back and make sure they didn't get on a big run."

Tied at one point 1-1, 2-2, 4-4, and 7-7, Calgary took the lead for good at 1:13 of the fourth quarter when Scott Ranger slipped into open space and took a perfect feed from Sanderson putting a high shot past goaltender Matt Vinc.

A rare goal from Codd on a brilliant individual effort from the defenceman at 4:03 put the Roughnecks ahead 9-7 and Sanderson fired in his second goal of the night at 7:25 to give the Roughnecks its biggest lead of the night.

Casey Powell's third and fourth goals at 8:15 and 12:09 for New York set up a frantic final three minutes but the Roughnecks were able to hang on getting a clutch goal from Mike Carnegie with 44 seconds remaining.

After pulling Vinc for an extra player while applying pressure in Calgary's end, Vinc was back on the floor but couldn't get back in his net in time to stop Carnegie's long shot.

Codd, who only scored once in 16 regular season games, then added his second of the night into an empty net with 36 seconds left to send the crowd to its feet.

Calgary's only other championship appearance was in 2004 when in the same building they won 14-11 over the Buffalo Bandits.

Kaleb Toth, Curt Malawsky, Tracey Kelusky, and Jeff Shattler also scored for Calgary. Toth added five assists for a team-high six points.

New York's other goals came from Brendan Mundorf with a pair, Matt Alrich, Ryan Boyle, Pat Maddalena, and Jordan Hall.

In its third season in the NLL, New York was making its first championship game appearance.

"Congratulations to the Calgary Roughnecks, awesome job," said New York coach Ed Comeau. "They were the top team all year and they showed why they were tonight."

Calgary, the NLL's top regular season team, reached the final on the heels of a two convincing playoff victories -- 15-8 over Colorado in the semifinal and 17-5 over San Jose in last Saturday's West final.

The final would prove to be far more difficult against a resilient New York team that reached the final with an 11-10 overtime win over Rochester and 9-3 victory last weekend over Buffalo.

Kelusky said the win might finally get Calgary some credit around the league.

"Maybe now we'll get some respect that we are the number one team," said Kelusky.

"When we played Colorado and we beat them so bad, people said 'Oh Colorado just never showed up.' When we played San Jose, it was the same thing, 'Oh San Jose, did they really play that bad?' Not ever credit to the way the Caglary Roughnecks played."

Showing determination all night, trailing 7-5, New York fought back to tie it yet again starting late in the third quarter.

Powell drew the Titans within one at 9:46 of the third quarter scoring on a shot he put through his own legs.

Mundorf tied it up 42 seconds into the fourth quarter racing around the perimeter of the Calgary defence and whipping a high shot past Matt King.

"My hat goes off to the New York Titans because they were the best team we played this year," said Kelusky.

"But some credit has to finally go to this Calgary Roughnecks club because we've been proving to people all year that we're the best."

A key sequence in the game came in the third quarter.

At 1:58, Hall spun away from Andrew McBride and ripped a shot past Matt King to get the Titans within a goal.

It looked like New York was going to tie it 6-6 when Hall broke in alone but his hard shot from close in was stopped by King who acrobatically threw out his right arm.

Shortly after, Dobbie and Toth perfectly executed a give-and-go in the Titans end with Dobbie taking Toth's return pass and putting a shot past Vinc at 6:00 to put the Roughnecks ahead 7-5.

Tied 4-4, Calgary struck twice in the final 31 seconds of the second quarter to put an emotional charge into the Pengrowth Saddledome crowd of 13,042.

First, Sanderson ran hard to the net from the side boards and bounced a shot past goaltender Matt Vinc.

Then, with exactly two seconds left, Calgary had the ball at centre as the referee whistled in play. Toth immediately took two strides and ripped a shot from 80-feet out that beat Vinc over his shoulder at the buzzer sounded sending the crowd and Roughnecks bench into a frenzy.

Tied 2-2 after the first quarter, Calgary had taken a 3-2 lead when Shattler picked off a New York pass and ran the length of the floor to score on a breakaway at 1:18.

After Dobbie put the Roughnecks up by two at 5:58, New York clawed its way back to even at 4-4.

Powell notched a power-play goal at 8:28. Then, after a nice move to spin away from the coverage of Bruce Codd, Alrich whipped a low shot past King at 12:00.

King had blanked the San Jose Stealth for the first 45 minutes last Saturday. However, the shutout streak ended with Maddalena giving New York a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal 1:31 into the game.

Goals by Kelusky and Malawsky gave the Roughnecks their first lead before Mundorf scored at 9:58 to tie it 2-2 after the first quarter.

Calgary's penalty kill, second-worst during the regular season, gave up three goals on five attempts.

Meanwhile, the Roughnecks went 1-for-5 with the extra man.

Calgary outshot New York 50-42.

Notes: Malawsky, 39, finally won his first NLL championship after being on the losing side four times. . . Codd's only other playoff goal in 13 games came back in 2005. . . Calgary had six players in uniform that were on the 2004 team: King, Devan Wray, Kelusky, Toth, Kyle Goundrey, and Andrew McBride. . . The attendance fell over 6,000 shy of the sellout 19,289 that attended the final in 2004. . . Calgary Stampeders quarterback and 2009 Grey Cup MVP Henry Burris dropped the ceremonial first ball.

Roughnecks celebrate (Photo: Larry Palumbo/NLL)

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(Photo: Larry Palumbo/NLL)
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