Photo by Cameron Sparling – Ultiphotos.com
Trailing 16-14 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, it seemed like it was going to happen. It seemed almost certain that the Nighthawks were poised to come back and earn their first victory of the season. Playing their best offensive game of the season, converting on 63.6 percent of their offensive points (a huge leap from their season average entering the game of around 40 percent), Vancouver had a chance to earn a key break when Ted Chu was unable to hold onto a goal with 9:27 left in the fourth quarter.
Seattle converted a hold after the turnover and went on to outscore Vancouver 5-1 in the fourth quarter and hold on for their third win of the season, dropping the Nighthawks to 0-6 on the season.
The teams traded the first four points of the game without a break. After taking a 3-2 lead, Seattle never relinquished their advantage. The Rainmakers got two breaks to jump out to an early 5-2 advantage over the Nighthawks and Vancouver trailed 12-8 heading into the locker room at halftime.
The Nighthawks came out with some fire in the third quarter. Erik Hunter threw two goals and caught one more to help his team take the quarter from Seattle, 6-4. Hunter finished with two goals, three assists, and a block and is now second in the league in scoring to Cody Bjorklund with 27 points. Hunter still leads the MLU in points played this season with 123, one more than the Rumble’s Scott Xu.
Sascha Lo once again had a great game for the Nighthawks, completing all 32 passes he attempted while scoring two goals and and adding an assist in the loss. His 1.629 TPOP is the most among players with 85 or more points played this season and his completion percentage of 94.7 percent is elite.
Taylor Nadon and Victor Cheng were both stellar on offense for Vancouver. In Cheng’s first action since Week 1, his contributions played a large role in the Nighthawks having their best offensive game of the season. Cheng and Nadon each had three goals and a pair of assists in the loss.
For the Rainmakers, the return of Khalif El-Salaam, who had been out of the lineup since Week 1 for Seattle, made a huge impact. El-Salaam finished with a game-high six assists and scored a pair of goals in the Rainmakers’ win 21-15 win. He completed all 30 passes he attempted and didn’t turn the disc over, something that has been key in El-Salaam’s development.
For Vancouver, the loss sends them back to the drawing board. But the drawing board has more positives to work from after this week, especially after seeing what a nearly full roster can do. Their offense looked stellar at times against the Rainmakers and it was poor decision making rather than the inability to move the disc against Seattle that doomed them in Week 5. Graeme Barber, who didn’t play against the Rainmakers, could have made a big difference in the outcome. His return to the lineup is key for Vancouver’s quest for their first victory of the season.
For Seattle, the victory places them in sole possession of second place in the West after San Francisco’s loss to Portland earlier today. At 3-2, their head to head matchups against San Francisco will still determine who makes the playoffs and squares off against the Stags who have all but wrapped up the top spot in the West.
Both teams get much needed bye weeks in Week 6 and will return to action on May 21 and May 22nd, respectively.