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May 19, 2012

Championship Game MVP Jamieson fuels huge second half as Rochester rallies for third title

By Andy Lefkowitz, Associate Editor for NLL.com

Thanks to Cody Jamieson, the Rochester Knighthawks’ championship drought is over.

After being throuoghly outplayed in the first half, Rochester scored the first eight goals to open the second half and defeated the Edmonton Rush 9-6 in the Champion’s Cup final on Saturday night at the Blue Cross Arena.

Jamieson had four goals and four assists - seven of his points came after halftime - to win Championship Game Most Valuable Player honors. Rochester (10-9), which also won NLL titles in 1997 and 2007, became the seventh different team in seven years to take the title.

Edmonton (8-11), which was seeking its first championship title to cap an unexpected playoff run after losing seven of nine to start the season, had led 5-1 at halftime before being blanked for much of the second half.

Zack Greer got Edmonton on the board with his fifth postseason goal 1:32 into the game. It would also be the only goal of the quarter.

The Knighthawks’ Matt Vinc stopped 12 of 13 shots while Aaron Bold – Vinc’s backup with Rochester last season – turned away all six shots he faced in the opening 15 minutes.

Greer gave Edmonton a 2-0 lead at 2:44 of the second quarter when he beat Vinc and the shot clock. Exactly two minutes later, the Rush took a three-goal lead when Chris Corbeil picked off an errant pass in the Edmonton zone, broke in alone and got the ball past Vinc.

It was Corbeil’s first career playoff goal.

Rochester ended Bold’s shutout streak after 22 minutes, 13 seconds as Jamieson dove across the crease to make it 3-1.

With six minutes left in the half, Rochester’s Kyle Laverty and Mike Kirk were both sent to the penalty box for slashing, giving Edmonton a two-man advantage.  The Rush scored just 13 seconds later when Aaron Wilson converted a nifty behind-the-back pass from Ryan Ward just inside the right post.

Shortly after that, another errant pass from Rochester resulted in a breakaway goal. Jarrett Toll’s first playoff goal made a 5-1 game with 2:22 left in the half.

While Edmonton went into the break having outshot Rochester 31-11, the Knighthawks didn’t help themselves by committing 14 turnovers with two resulting in breakaway tallies for the Rush.T

he break gave the Knighthawks a chance to regroup. Refocused and re-energized, Rochester figured out how to beat Bold on a consistent basis. 

Mike Accursi scored at 4:52, followed by a goal from rookie Johnny Powless just over three minutes later to make it a 5-3 game. Jamieson then beat Bold at 9:34 and followed with his second goal 76 seconds after that as the Knighthawks rallied to tie. 

With former Knighthawk Shawn Williams in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, Accursi gave Rochester its first lead of the game at 13:43, then rookie Stephen Keogh scored with 19 seconds left in the quarter to make it 7-5.

Half of Rochester’s 12 shots in the quarter went for goals while all eight of Edmonton’s chances were turned aside by Vinc.

The domination by the Knighthawks continued into the fourth quarter when Powless scored his second of the game at 2:09. Edmonton’s Ward halted the momentum with his 10th goal of the playoffs at the nine-minute mark to make it 8-6.

“It was a tale of two halves. They were real good in the second (half) and we weren’t as good,” said Rush head coach and general manager Derek Keenan. “Our offense went stagnant. We kind of stopped doing the things that we did well in the first half and we had done all through the playoffs.

Jamieson closed the scoring with 32 seconds left, and the partying started for a team that got off to 2-4 start in 2012. Vinc notched 20 of his 46 saves in a nearly perfect second half. Bold totaled 26 saves on 35 shots for the Rush.

“It’s always a concern coming into a game that a goalie can steal one and perhaps he did it tonight,” said Keenan of Vinc’s effort. “You know Aaron stole a few for us this year as well, so it can go both ways.

“We weren’t able to answer on offense. Keep in mind, we kept a team to nine goals and the best way to answer a run is to score and we just weren’t able to."

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