Knighthawks Edge Stealth to Claim Champions Cup

(May 11, 2013)... With a 11-10 victory over the Washington Stealth on Saturday night, the Rochester Knighthawks earned their second consecutive National Lacrosse League championship.

With a one-goal lead and less than 10 seconds to play, goaltender Matt Vinc made his 39th save of the game to preserve the lead and allow the Knighthawks to become the first back-to-back champions in the NLL in a decade.

Rochester native Joe Walters scored the eventual game-winner 2:24 into the fourth quarter. The goal proved to be the only Knighthawks goal in the second half, but was enough to lift them to victory.

Forward Cody Jamieson was named the Reebok Champion's Cup MVP after scoring a team-high three goals, and was tied for the team lead with five points (3+2). Dan Dawson (1+4) and Walters (1+4) each finished with five points as well. Vinc made 39 saves on 49 shots.

The Knighthawks jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter. Cory Vitarelli scored the first goal of the game at 3:16. Tied at 2-2, Dawson, Brad Self and Mike Accursi each scored respectively to end the first with a 5-2 lead.

Washington's Lewis Ratcliff cut the deficit to two to start the second quarter, but Jamieson responded with consecutive goals at 2:47 and 4:39 to push the lead to 7-3.

The Stealth scored four unanswered goals to tie the game at 7-7, including two from Cliff Smith.

Vitarelli, Johnny Powless and Craig Point scored one goal apiece in a span of 2:42 to close the first half with a 10-7 advantage.

In the third, Stealth netminder Tyler Richards shutout the Knighthawks on 10 shots. Rhys Duch and Brett Bucktooth scored goals to reduce the lead to 10-9.

The Stealth were led by Bucktooth (1+4), Duch (3+1) and Ratcliff (1+3). Richards made 38 saves on 49 shots.

The win gives Rochester Head Coach Mike Hasen his sixth postseason victory as the Knighthawks bench boss, making him the franchise's leader in playoff wins.

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LANGLEY, British Columbia The Washington Stealth's bid for a second Champions Cup in four years ran out of steam in the final minutes of Saturday's NLL Championship Game as the Rochester Knighthawks, led by All-Pro goaltender Matt Vinc, hung on for an 11-10 win to secure their second consecutive title before a sold-out Langley Events Centre in Langley, British Columbia.

For the 5,200 fans that packed Langley's arena for the first NLL title to be contested in British Columbia, the game proved to be a classic with Washington chasing Rochester throughout the night forcing three ties before the Knighthawks managed to hold down the Stealth and hang on for the win.

But in a game that rarely strayed beyond a one-goal margin, it was the Stealth's second-half defensive effort, holding Rochester to a single goal while scoring three of its own, that nearly forced a fourth tie and a bid for the title.

"You couldn't ask for a more exciting game," said Stealth head coach Chris Hall, whose squad hung with Rochester shot for shot putting 31 on Vinc in the first then tightened up its own defense in the second. "It was a great game to watch and was played by two awfully good teams," Hall said. "Both teams have known since the beginning of this week that it was likely going to be a one goal game today."

For Rochester, the title made NLL history, as the Knighthawks became the only team since the Toronto Rock in 2002 and 2003 to win back-to-back championships in the past decade.

Never leading in the contest that was played in just north of the U.S.-Canada border after the Stealth's home venue Comcast Arena was unavailable for the game, Washington answered an opening Cory Viterelli score just 3:16 into the game to tie it up at 1-1 on Rhys Duch's first of three just 40 seconds later.

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