Thriller Sends Atlanta to Playoffs
Frisco, TX- In a phenomenal game at the Star in Frisco, a behind-the-back assist from Randy Staats to Tommy Palasek with 3:54 left proved to be the game winner as the Blaze move to 8-6 and will now head to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
In a game of runs, the loss for the Dallas Rattlers (6-9) eliminated them from playoff contention. They got off to a hot start, scoring six straight goals after Christian Mazzone netted an opening goal to get Atlanta on the board. Dallas headed into the second quarter with a 2-6 lead.
The Blaze would respond in the second quarter, fueled by a change in goal from Chris Madalon to Max Edelmann. A slash by Craig Chick to Chris Madalon's hand influenced the decision to change netminders near the end of the first quarter. A goal by Liam Byrnes started a 5-1 run in the second quarter for the Blaze, tying the game up at 7 going into halftime.
A goal by Shayne Jackson in the second quarter was his 38th of the season, setting a new Blaze single-season record. It was his first of three goals on the night, and along with an assist, his four points on the night put him at 55 for the season, seven shy of setting the Blaze single-season points record.
The Blaze continued their hot streak into the third quarter, starting the quarter with a goal from 14 yards away from Colton Jackson, and finishing the quarter with a goal from 14 yards away from Bryan Cole with just three seconds left. Atlanta would win the quarter 5-2 and take a 12-9 lead headed into the fourth.
Atlanta broke two other single-season records in the third quarter. A bullet by Brendan Sunday that Dallas goalie Sean Sconone couldn't handle cleanly brought the Blaze their 200th goal on the season and a faceoff won by Alex Woodall gave them 223 total faceoffs won. Atlanta now has 205 goals and 232 faceoff wins with games remaining to add to these new single-season team records.
In the fourth quarter, a behind-the-back feed from Staats to Palasek who faked high and finished low made it a 13-9 game and a four-goal lead for the Blaze with 10:44 remaining on the game clock. The Rattlers would not go down without a fight, however, and stormed back with five unanswered goals to give Dallas the 13-14 lead with 5:45 to play.
With all the momentum going Dallas' way, in front of a raucous crowd, and with their backs against the wall, the Blaze answered and regained the lead. Atlanta found the net with a Shayne Jackson goal in transition and followed with a goal from Palasek to put the Blaze on top 15-14 with 3:54 to go.
Rookie goalkeeper, Max Edelmann, out of Rutgers played exceptional in relief of Madalon, finishing with 13 unofficial saves and just eight goals allowed. His biggest stop came with the game on the line when Georgia native Lucas Wittenberg fired an alley dodge shot from 13 yards away headed for the top corner, only to be denied by Edelmann who protected his teams' 15-14 lead late in the fourth.
Dallas was able to gain possession with under 15 seconds left, but were unable to do anything with it, and after a scrum in the middle of the field for the loose ball, Shayne Jackson controlled possession and heaved the ball into the air as the clock showed 0:00, locking the Blaze into their first-ever postseason berth.
After the game, Captain Tommy Palasek didn't shy away from acknowledging the importance of this postseason-clinching victory, "This is huge. We've got an awesome owner in Andre (Gudger). We've put together a pretty special group this year. The winning teams in this league play for each other. Everyone here looks to their left and their right and they want to play for each other. That's where we're finding ourselves now here at the end of the season and that's the best place you can be in."
The Blaze will return to Silverbacks Stadium for "Fan Appreciation Night" in their final home game in Atlanta. The September 14th matchup will be a preview for October as they take on the Boston Cannons (8-6) who also clinched a playoff berth this weekend. Fans can click here for tickets to the last home game of the 2019 season.
HEAT CHECK: IMPACT PERFORMERS
Liam Byrnes: 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 2 Ground Balls, 3 Caused Turnovers
Bryan Cole: 2 Goals, 4 Assists
Randy Staats: 1 Goal, 4 Assists
Tommy Palasek: 2 Goals, 3 Assists
Max Edelmann: 13 Saves
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Major League Lacrosse Stories from September 8, 2019
- Thriller Sends Atlanta to Playoffs - Atlanta Blaze
- Championship Weekend for Major League Lacrosse Is Set - MLL
- NY Lizards Lose to Denver Outlaws, 15-12 - New York Lizards
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