(Photo Credit: Michael Smith/Prince George Sentinel)
It was a game of runs as Steele Stanwick scored the game-winner in overtime to send the Chesapeake Bayhawks to the 2019 MLL championship game. Stanwick had four points (2G/2A) in the win. Lyle Thompson added five points (3G/2A) to help lead the Bayhawks, as well.
In net for Chesapeake, Brian Phipps got the start, surprisingly, and made 10 saves off of 23 shots on goal. Warren Jefferey and Jesse Bernhardt combined for five caused turnovers, leading the Bayhawks’ defense and coming up with some big stops, especially in the second half.
Atlanta was led by Randy Staats with four points (2G/2A) and Mark Matthews who tallied three goals. Chris Madalon made 14 saves off of 28 shots on goal while Leo Stouros led the Blaze defense, scooping up two ground balls and causing two turnovers.
Andrew Kew got the scoring started for Chesapeake on an early power-play opportunity before Mark Matthews answered for Atlanta just a few possessions later. A three-goal run for Atlanta helped them get out to a 4-2 lead late in the first, burning the Chesapeake defense. Steele Stanwick cut the Atlanta lead to 4-3 with just seconds left in the first.
After a back-and-forth defensive heavy first quarter, Atlanta went on a three-goal run that saw Tommy Palasek score two and Brendan Sunday find the back of the net once. Chesapeake’s John Wagner scored off a feed from Colin Heacock to interrupt the Blaze run, but Atlanta got right back on track with Brendan Sunday and Bryan Cole scoring two straight in less than a minute, stretching the Blaze lead to 9-4.
While the third started with Ryan Tucker scoring off a hustle play for Chesapeake, Mark Matthews put in an insane one-handed shot to put Atlanta back up 10-5 early in the third.
Atlanta’s spark proved to be short lived as Matthews’ goal was their only goal in the quarter. Chesapeake completely flipped the script as they dominated for most of the third quarter. The Bayhawks ended with a five-goal run, including a finish from Lyle Thompson in the final seconds of the quarter off of a failed Atlanta clear.
Tied at 10 heading into the fourth, Chesapeake continued their hot streak with Nick Mariano and Andrew Kew scoring early in the quarter, pushing the Bayhawks’ lead to 12-10. Bryan Cole ended Atlanta’s nearly 15-minute scoring drought off an insane one-handed feed from Shayne Jackson, but Chesapeake quickly answered.
Randy Staats cut the Chesapeake lead to 13-12 late in the fourth and TJ Comozio scored the game-tying goal right on the doorstep after a failed Chesapeak clear to force overtime.
TJ Comozio got the ground ball off of the faceoff to start the overtime period and Atlanta called a timeout immediately. Chesapeake was able to get possession after an errant Atlanta pass rolled across the midfield line. Steele Stanwick cut from the middle, caught the pass from Nick Mariano, and finished as he shot far side and the ball dribbled passed Madalon for the win.
The Chesapeake Bayhawks will play the winner of the the Denver Outlaws and the Boston Cannons game in the MLL championship game on Sunday.