Midfielder Garrett Billings scored three goals and dished off an assist in his season debut while attackman Kevin Huntley totaled two goals and two assists as the Toronto Nationals defeated the Chesapeake Bayhawks 17-14 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.
Attackman Corey Small had a hat trick for Toronto, which never trailed in the contest. Attackman John Grant Jr. and midfielder Jordan Hall had two goals and an assist for the Nationals (2-5), who have now won two straight.
Midfielder Brian Vetter scored a career-high four goals to lead Chesapeake (4-3), which has lost two straight for the first time this season. Midfielder Peet Poillon had three goals and an assist while attackman Danny Glading added a goal and three assists for the Bayhawks, who fell behind 3-0 in the opening five minutes and played catch-up the whole way.
"It's frustrating. Once you fall behind you start forcing things," Vetter said. "We're making bad decisions, especially in transition and as far as shot selection."
Attackman Andrew "Buggs" Combs had a hat trick for Chesapeake, which rallied from a 10-6 halftime deficit to tie the score at the 10:04 mark of the third quarter. Poillon had a huge 2-point goal on a wicked underhand crank shot as the Bayhawks went on a 4-0 run to start the second half.
However, Grant responded with a 2-pointer of his own to cap a 4-0 run as Toronto pushed its lead back to four goals at 14-10 with 3:15 left in the third. Chesapeake would close to 15-14 with five minutes elapsed in the fourth quarter when Vetter fired in a beautiful overhand shot on the run and Glading followed a minute later with a nice low-to-high shot.
Toronto was not going to be denied on this night as newly-acquired Jake Deane scored directly off a faceoff and Billings netted his final goal to complete the scoring. Deane was one of five new players activated by the Nationals for Thursday night's game. Billings, who was picked up off waivers this week, was named the Bud Light MVP.
Alex Smith won 21 of 32 faceoffs for Chesapeake, but 14-for-31 shooting and a slew of turnovers negated the possession advantage. Goalkeeper Chris Garrity did what he could to keep the Bayhawks in the game with 12 saves, several on point-blank shot attempts.
"We're giving up too many runs. Each of us has to be accountable, myself included, about communicating better and sliding properly," Bayhawks defenseman Michael Evans said.
Rookie midfielder Michael Kimmel contributed a goal and two assists for the Bayhawks, who now have a lengthy break before traveling to Denver for a night game (9 p.m.) on July 4.
"We have a week and a half off to regroup and get it going again," Combs said. "Coach (John Tucker) challenged us as a group and individually at halftime tonight. Some guys responded well to it and hopefully that carries over into the next game. I'm not worried. Things will come together. We're still the same team that started the season 4-1.