Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dan Dawson pulls his team to the NLL final

The crowning touch for this year’s National Lacrosse League season is one 6’5” forward by the name of Dan Dawson.

The six-year pro says, “Portland is not a one-man team. We’re not going to win games unless we have a total team effort.”

That may be true, but you could say the Lumberjax have made their way to the Champions Cup final solely on the back of its superstar. The team’s scoring leader set a franchise and career-high seven goals and five assists in Portland’s first ever playoff game May 4 against the heavily favored San Jose.

After mowing over the Stealth 18-16, Portland faced the Calgary Roughnecks at home May 10, and once again, Dawson led the play for another victory: 16-12. He had five points in the first quarter alone (three goals, two assists) and finished the game with five goals and five assists. In two games, he has bettered his career playoff high 10 goals and five assists in 2005 with Arizona.

But Dawson will also insist it wasn’t just his performance that excelled his team to the final. Certainly he had help from the likes of Ryan Powell (four goals) and others.

The Lumberjax won many of the battles along the board and Powell out-muscled the Calgary defense to score at least two of his goals.

Calgary Roughnecks’ captain Tracey Kelusky summed up his team’s efforts. “We didn’t take the flow to them, and as a result, they dictated. I don’t know if we had that sense of urgency.”

In the second quarter, Matt Disher came to the bench after facing 10 shots, allowing four goals against, and six saves in lieu of Dallas Eliuk.

Dawson commented on Eliuk’s performance coming off the bench, “He showed why he’s one of the greatest goaltenders in the league.”

At the other end, Pat Campbell came in to replace Steve “Chugger” Dietrick in goal after two Ryan Powell goals in the fourth. Dietrick had faced 47 shots by then, made 33 saves, and allowed 14 goals against, but it was the last four goals that haunted him.

“Those last four goals were brutal and cost us the game.”

The stage is now set for Portland to make NLL history and faces the Buffalo Bandits in the final. It’s likely Dawson will add significantly to his point total, cementing his position as one of the more exciting players to watch in 2009.


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