NLL: Thunderbirds win tight game against Riptide

The Halifax Thunderbirds accomplished a task they’ve struggled with this season- winning a tight game. They beat the New York Riptide 13-12 on Sunday afternoon at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. 

Before this game, Halifax blew leads at home against the Calgary Roughnecks and Albany FireWolves. This game looked like it could be going that way. Halifax was up 13-11 with 1:25 left until Reilly O’Connor got the Riptide within one goal. However, the Thunderbirds managed to play solid defence and win the game. 

“We lost a few of these tight games, so it was good that we kept our composure and pulled out a win,” said Halifax’s head coach, Mike Accursi. “We didn’t panic, and we stuck to our principles, and that’s what we need to do. It’s when we panic that is when we get into trouble, and then that’s when it usually ends up in the back of our net. Today we stuck with it.” 

This was a significant victory for the Thunderbirds in the standings. They lost their past two games, and another loss would have put their record at 4-6 and brought New York closer at 3-6. It would be tough to come back from quickly because Halifax plays the league’s best Buffalo Bandits on back-to-back weeks. 

“We were watching the games yesterday, and we knew there were teams sneaking up on us in the standings and playing some good lacrosse, and we had to bring our best, and New York is one of those teams,” said Halifax’s forward Clarke Petterson who scored six points.

Both teams traded goals early in the game, with goals from New York’s Jeff Teat and Halifax’s Cody Jamieson. 

New York scored two in the last minute-and-a-half of the quarter courtesy of Dan Lomas and Kevin Brownell, giving them a 3-1 lead. 

Clarke Petterson got Halifax back on the board to start the second quarter. He drove from the left side and dunked it. 

However, Jeff Teat wouldn’t allow the Thunderbirds to gain momentum. He scored on a penalty shot and an outside shot within a minute of Petterson’s goal to stretch New York’s lead to 5-2. 

Halifax’s offence was having trouble scoring for the first 20 minutes of the game. Luckily, the defence came to the rescue. Graeme Hossack intercepted a pass and sent Johnny Pearson on a breakaway to score his third goal in two games. 

This opened the floodgates for the Thunderbirds as Randy Staats, Ryan Benesch, and Chris Boushy scored, while Petterson added another great goal by spinning off a defender to put the ball in the back of the net. 

“On the bench, we were saying we had one goal after the first quarter, and it was like we’re swinging the ball, we’re playing well, don’t get away from what we were doing,” said Petterson.”We were doing the same thing that we were doing… but we executed at a little higher level, and we had a little more focus, and that is what led to going on a little bit of a run.” 

With the Thunderbirds up 7-5 with seconds left in the half, they pulled their goalie to try to get one more. However, Halifax turned over the ball, and Matt Mariner scored on the open net. 

Halifax got off to a strong start in the third quarter, scoring three goals in the first eight minutes courtesy of Cody Jamieson, Chris Boushy and Randy Staats.

Once again, Jeff Teat wouldn’t allow the Riptide to go away, completing his third sock trick of the season. On his first goal of the quarter, he made some space in front of three-time defensive player of the year Graeme Hossack and shot it past Hossack and Halifax’s goalie, Warren Hill, to score. Later Teat found himself in one-on-one situations twice and burst by David Brock and Tyson Bell to score two goals. He finished the game with six goals and three assists. New York was down 10-9 going into the fourth quarter. 

“I think defensively, we were trying a little bit too much and just got caught in some bad situations and things that go against our principles,” said Accursi. “That consistency we’ve been trying to look for, and we’re still struggling with it.”

Both teams scored to start the fourth quarter, with Reilly O’Connor for New York and Randy Staats for Halifax. Larson Sundown later tied the game for the Riptide. 

 Halifax’s veterans were not letting them lose this game. Ryan Benesch and Cody Jamieson scored within seconds of each other to put Halifax up 13-11 with four minutes left. 

But the Riptide weren’t going away. O’Connor completed a tic-tac-toe goal with 1:25 left to get the game within one. However, the Thunderbirds managed to hold off the Riptide, and a late facemask penalty on Connor Kearnan sealed the victory for Halifax. 

Warren Hill stopped 27/38 shots for Halifax, while New York’s Steve Orleman stopped 36/49 shots, and Kevin Orleman stopped all four shots he faced in the fourth quarter, but he left the game with an injury. 

The Thunderbirds’ record now improves to 5-5 while the Riptide drops to 2-7. New York travels to Rochester next week for a game against the Knighthawks, while Halifax has a bye week before hosting the Bandits.