A record crowd of 1175 raucous spectators, bolstered by many participants in the Flower Bowl tournament being held at the University of British Columbia campus this weekend, enjoyed the heck out of tonight’s match-up in Vancouver between the Nighthawks and the San Francisco Dogfish at Thunderbird Stadium on the UBC campus. Mind you, they would have enjoyed it a little more if the Nighthawks had managed to win, but once again the Dogfish edged them out at home, this time winning 23-21.
For the third time in four home games – the other one was in the middle of a long period of good weather — the clouds parted not long before the first pull and the game was played in perfect conditions. I counted five double happinesses – a double happiness being the name for when a player gets a D block and then sprints to the end zone to catch a goal on a pass from the teammate who picked up the disc after his block – as well as at least three huge hammers for goals, plus lots of hucks and several blades and other high angle throws that sliced through defenses.
Things did not start out well for the Nighthawks, with Russ Wynne setting the tone during the first point as he got a nice D that led to the Dogfish’s first goal. The Nighthawks then committed a number of unforced errors to quickly fall behind 4-1, but they picked up their intensity on defense and started to execute better on offense to bring it back to 5-6 at the end of the first quarter, with Oscar Pottinger scoring the 5-6 goal and then getting a D in his own end zone as time ran out.
Max Hunter, who had already achieved his own double happiness in the first quarter, quickly tied it up by getting a D block and then passing to Aaron Koenig for a Nighthawks goal, and the second quarter turned in to a back-and-forth affair, with Mark Leduc and Nick Menzies scoring double happinesses for the Nighthawks and Kirk Savage’s hucks and hammers matched by Mac Taylor’s touch with the disc for the Dogfish. Menzies’ DH made it 12-10 for the Nighthawks at the half, marking the first time they have led at the half against either the Dogfish or Seattle Rainmakers, tied for the conference lead.
The Nighthawks scored after 6 seconds of the second half on a pass from Kirk Savage to Oscar Pottinger to make it 13-10, but then Mac Taylor took the game by the scruff of the neck by scoring five assists in the quarter. Still, the Nighthawks offense continued to score freely, with the third quarter ending with an 18-18 tie.
Devon Anderson got things started for the Dogfish in the fourth quarter with yet another double happiness on a pass from Ashlin Joye, and then, for the first time I have seen this season in any game, the refs took over, repeatedly blowing their whistles for infractions and earning catcalls from the spectators.
This seemed to unnerve the Nighthawks, who quickly fell behind 21-18 on yet another assist from Taylor, but to their credit the home team pulled it back to 21-20 and then 22-21, but after forcing another turnover they were unable to tie up the game when a short pass into the San Francisco end zone fell incomplete, and the Dogfish confidently moved it back up the field to score and make the final margin 23-21.
Mac Taylor made up for the absence of Beau Kittredge by leading the Dogfish on the stats sheet with no fewer than 8 assists, while fellow O-line cutter Eric Greenwood contributed 4 goals and 2 assists. For the Nighthawks, Nick Menzies had 3 goals, 4 assist, and a D, while O-line handlers Oscar Pottinger, with 3 goals and 2 assists and Kirk Savage, with 5 assists, took full advantage of the perfect throwing conditions.
Menzies and Drew Kim of the Dogfish took the Player of the Game Awards, sponsored by the Vancouver Ultimate League.