The Boston Cannons were able to rebound from a tough stretch of road games with a 16-12 victory over the New York Lizards, Friday night and Harvard Stadium.
After a three game stretch of road games ended last week with a win over Charlotte, the now 3-5 Boston Cannons returned home to face off with the 3-5 New York Lizards. With playoff berths for both teams just slightly out of reach, the showdown between the two squads in Boston Saturday represented more than just another tally in the win column.
The Lizards got off to a quick start notching two goals in the first quarter to jump out to an early lead. Goals by Mark Matthews and David Earl gave the Lizards the 2-0 advantage, but a solid performance at the faceoff "X" by Chris Eck was able to slow down New York's potent attack.
The Cannons were able to respond with highlight reel goals by Mike Stone and rookie Cam Flint to cut down the Lizard's lead and fought back to end the first quarter with a 4-3 deficit.
The matchup between Eck and opposing faceoff specialist Greg Gurelian proved to be pivotal, and early on in the game it was clear that the battle for possession would ultimately determine the outcome of the game. It did, Eck was able to collect 17 of the 30 draws taken, barely an advantage over Gurelian who currently ranks first in MLL in faceoff percentage.
Boston began the second quarter with a strong offensive presence. Matt Poskay led the quarter's scoring with a right handed goal 4:31 into the period, and then again two minutes later on a man-up opportunity to take a 5-4 lead. Paul Rabil was then able to extend the Cannon's lead to two off of a split dodge that beat Lizards's goaltender Drew Adams. Rob Pannell then responded for New York scoring an unassisted goal, but the lead was brought back to two as Rabil put another high to low shot past Adams with 1:20 remaining in the half.
After capturing the lead towards the end of the first half, Boston never looked back. The Lizards were never able to tie the game after the intermission, and despite high quality performances by attackmen Pannell and Matthews, New York was never able to solve the puzzle that was Cannon's goaltender Jordan Burke. Burke, who had not lived up to his superb play of the previous two years to this point in 2013, returned to his best form stopping 16 of 27 Lizard shots on cage.
9:49 into the third quarter Poskay netted his third goal of the evening giving the Cannons a comfortable lead at five goals. The perennial All-Star and Cannon legend was chosen as the player of the game, and finished the evening with a game-high five goals.
Boston's offense was led by all the usual suspects with Rabil, Poskay, and Kevin Buchannan all tallying five points, however, it was high caliber play by the Cannons' corps of rookies that stood out. UMASS product Will Manny led the way for the young guns with five points, with Flint and Scott Ratliff also making appearances on the score sheet.
The Lizards were led offensively by Pannell and Max Seibald, each of whom racked up five points in the contest. Despite their best efforts and a handful of highlight reel goals, poorly times turnovers in crucial spots, and inability to convert on late-game man up situations, proved to be the factor that prevented this game from being close in the end.
The Cannons will travel to Ohio next Saturday to face-off with the Machine at 7 P.M. ET on ESPN3. The Lizards return to New York State, but travel to take on the Rochester Rattlers Sunday afternoon at 3 P.M. ET, a game which can be viewed nationally on CBS Sports Network.
• John Tucker's record as Boston head coach is now 2-0
• Lizards head-to-head winning streak with Boston was snapped, New York had won the previous four contests.
• The showdown between the top two faceoff men in the league went to Eck, a surprise considering the success of Gurenlian so far in 2013.
• Rabil is now three points away from tying the all-time Cannons' points record.
• Will Manny and Cam Flint had their first break-out performances as members of the Cannons (7 totals points).
• Max Seibald took sole possession of sixth place on the Lizards all-time scoring list.