The Rochester Knighthawks will be traveling to the West Coast to face the Washington Stealth in the 2013 Champion's Cup on Saturday night.
It all comes down to this.
Both teams finished the regular season in second place in their respective divisions; Washington wrapped up with one more win.
As luck would have it, these same two teams faced off in the very first game of the season, with the Stealth taking the 13-12 victory at home. Four months later, they will be competing against each other in the last game of the season.
The Stealth and Knighthawks also met in February, this time in Rochester. In the lowest-scoring game of the NLL season, the K'Hawks emerged with the 7-6 victory.
With both teams taking a one-goal victory over the other this year, it is tough to make any predictions based on the regular season.
But we do know a few things.
Washington's Rhys Duch is leading all players still active in the playoffs in points (13) and goals (7). "Clutch" Duch has scored in every game this season—containing him will be a key focus for the Knighthawks defense.
Dan Dawson is leading the K'Hawks with nine points. "Dangerous" Dan is a former league MVP and seems to save his best performances for the biggest games.
Rochester's Brad Self is the K'Hawks' leader in loose balls with 17 while Washington's Jeff Moleski is tops in loosies for the Stealth with 11.
Rochester goalie Matt Vinc won the NLL Goaltender of the Year award this year and actually has a lower goals against average in the postseason than he did in the regular season. His 9.00 GAA is more than three goals better than Washington's Tyler Richards, although T-Rich is currently boasting a better save percentage (.769) than Vinc (.750).
One thing we can definitely be sure of is that the Stealth's Bob Snider will dominate in the faceoff circle. He set the NLL record for faceoff wins in a single season in 2012 with 319 and was second only to his brother Geoff this year, winning 262. Rochester simply has no one in Snider's league, and this could lead to a goal or two extra for the Stealth on the extra possessions.
All things considered, I'd call this game a dead heat. Whoever comes out with the hottest hand will win. But my gut says not to bet against Vinc. I'm looking for an 11-10 Knighthawks win.
The action gets underway at 4 p.m. PT in the Langley Events Centre in Langley, British Columbia.
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