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Panther City Clinches Playoff Spot with Victory in Vancouver

The Panther City Lacrosse Club (10-7) earned a historic victory over the Vancouver Warriors (4-13), 9-8, on Saturday night at Rogers Arena, as the club officially clinched a playoff spot for the first time in franchise history. With the win, Panther City swept the season series from Vancouver. This marks the second series sweep Panther City has recorded this season as they also swept the season series with the Las Vegas Desert Dogs.

With the victory, Panther City earned its first come-from-behind win after trailing at the conclusion of the third quarter, as the team was previously 0-7. Panther City ramped up their offense in the fourth quarter as they recorded four goals and limited Vancouver to a single goal. Goalie Nick Damude stopped 15 shots in the fourth quarter.

Damude was stellar between the pipes for Panther City as he stopped 45 of the 53 shots (.849 save percentage) he faced, which was his second-highest save percentage of the season. Of Panther City’s 10 wins, Damude has allowed single-digit goals now in seven of those games. Damude now has a GAA of 10.14, which is third-best in the NLL, only trailing Toronto’s Nick Rose and Calgary’s Christian Del Bianco.

Transition goals were the difference tonight for Panther City as both Tony Malcom and Josh Medeiros recorded two goals to lead the team, with Medeiros registering the game-winner with 1:04 remaining in regulation. He now has recorded 20 goals on the season, smashing his last season total of 8 goals. Captain Matt Hossack also recorded a goal in transition and tied the game at eight apiece with his goal with 1:37 left in the fourth quarter. Tony Malcom led the team with 10 loose balls and tied for the team-lead with two caused turnovers.

Offensively, Panther City continued its strong play on the man advantage as they were 3-5 on the power play tonight with goals from Phil Caputo, Mathieu Gautier and Callum Crawford. Caputo recorded his 12th power play goal of the season and is now tied for second in the NLL in power play goals scored. Rookie Jonathan Donville continues to pace the league with power play assists as he recorded another two power play assists tonight, bringing his league-leading total to 28 assists on the man advantage.

Panther City concludes their regular season next week back home at Dickies Arena on Friday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. against the Calgary Roughnecks.

POST GAME QUOTES

HEAD COACH TRACEY KELUSKY QUOTES

On clinching a playoff spot just two years into the program’s start…

I’m excited about the opportunity that we have in front of us and what’s next because ultimately, we talked about it. This is our team. And yeah, it’s only our second year, but we’ve done a lot of really, really good things along the way. First and foremost, building a culture that loves winning and hates losing. That first step for us is the playoffs and here we are. We made it.

On the emotions of the last two goals…

I’m not too focused on the goals and who got them or how we got them. Again, it’s in any given Sunday league and it’s in any given Sunday game and quite frankly I’m excited of the way we got it. We obviously got those goals – good teams win ugly, and we manufactured in transition tonight. No doubt the Hoss [defenseman Matt Hossack] is our leader and the fact that he stepped up is big for us.

On Nick Damude’s play tonight…

Nick is our backbone. What else can be said? What else can you say about Nick, Nicky is our MVP. You know, you’re as good as your goaltender, and Nick is arguably one of the best goalies in this league right now and rightfully so. He stepped up and accepted the challenge and I’m super proud of him.

On how proud he was of the team tonight and what they have accomplished…

That’s why you play. That’s why I play. That’s why I coach. It’s everything. When you can see a smile on a guy’s face or like a slap on the ass for a job well done, that’s more gratifying than winning championships. It’s when you can see the exhilaration of winning. Again, our first step was making the playoffs, and the fact that we were able to accomplish that in two short years with this group, I’m excited and I’m certainly very proud of every one of those guys.

GOALIE NICK DAMUDE QUOTES

On what’s going through his head after clinching a playoff spot…

I think it’s been a work in progress since day one last year with the group of guys that we’ve brought in and the culture and the team that we have. This is obviously the goal that you have every single regular season. The only mindset you have is making playoffs and then obviously once you’re in playoffs, it’s a new season and you know you start rolling from there. So obviously it’s something special and I couldn’t be prouder of this group, and to do it with these guys, it’s special.

On his fourth quarter mindset….

I’m always going to thank my defense for the shots that they’re giving me. I can’t say much more than our defense all game gave me the shots and let me get warm. I’m there to bail them out when they need me, and I feel like that’s something I haven’t been doing much lately, so I’m glad I got to do that this game. They came up clutch when we needed them to. At the end of the game, those two caused turnovers by Hoss and Malcs [transition player Tony Malcom] were huge. It’s a team game and that’s a team win.

On what’s next for the team…

The playoffs… We’re playing a tough Calgary team which we might face in the playoffs. Obviously, it’s go out, regroup, and get rested and then it’s all focus on them to end of the season. Then we’re obviously focused on the playoffs and getting the streak going there.

TRANSITION PLAYER JOSH MEDEIROS QUOTES

On what is going through his head after clinching a playoff spot…

“We’re excited to get there. We’re not satisfied because the job is not done and we’re looking at a big contest coming up next weekend to get prepared for.”

On the game winning goal…

“Right before I got out there TK [Head Coach Tracey Kelusky] was yelling at me to push pace, so I knew I had to get up the floor. And we just happened to get up quick enough that there was an odd man rush and Malcs [Tony Malcom] made a nice pass and I just tried to help the team get ahead.”

On what’s next for the team…

“What’s next is playoffs. We’re still a young team, and a little adversity never hurt anybody, so we’re going to push through and we’re going to bring this thing home.”

DEFENSEMAN MATT HOSSACK QUOTES

On what’s going through his head after clinching playoffs…

“It’s pretty exciting to get that milestone for the franchise. And honestly, that’s a tough team over there to play and they played us tough the whole time. I thought their defense and their goalie played really well. That’s the type of gritty win we’re going to get and what we’re going to have to earn in playoffs. It’s not going to get any easier for us, but that’s a huge stepping stone for us and I think the boys are going to be really happy. We have got to keep building on it.”

On the emotions of the game tying goal…

“We got the ball up the floor quick. Mess [defenseman Evan Messenger] ran the ball up, got it in deep into the zone and he got it back to me. I had a bunch of space, and as TK and Toller [Defensive Coordinator Steve Toll] would say, we got the green light to take our shots when we see them. When we got four on threes and three on twos, so good time to take the shot. It worked out for us and we got some momentum going, then a couple shifts later the guys were buzzing and were flowing with energy. It’s good, it’s a big play. I think we did all the little things right and that’s the important part.”

Panther City Lacrosse Club