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Panther City Defeats Defending Champ Bandits In OT Classic

FORT WORTH, TX  (March 22, 2024) – The Panther City Lacrosse Club (7-7), took part in their very own version of March Madness Friday night against the Buffalo Bandits as they defeated the visitors, 12-11 in overtime. Jonathan Donville netted the game winner, his second OT goal this season, to seal the deal. PCLC is now 3-2 in overtime games this season and 4-3 in games decided by one goal.

The two teams began the game trading goals back and forth. Will Malcom, Donville and Ty Thompson got the scoring started for Panther City in the first quarter. In just his third game this season, Thompson stepped up in a big way and scored twice on the evening.

To end the first quarter, goalie Nick Damude scored with two seconds remaining on the clock. In what is becoming a seasonal tradition, Damude scored his third career goal and his third with Panther City in his three years in Fort Worth. Damude became the second goalie ever in NLL history to record a goal in three consecutive seasons, joining Pat O’Toole (2001-2003). He is also one of just four goalies in the history of the league to record three career goals. It was the second goalie goal of the 2023-24 season, as Albany’s Doug Jamieson has also scored.

Defensively, Damude turned in one of his best performances of the season. He stopped 51 of the 621 shots he faced (.823 save %), including stopping 15 shots in the first quarter and 17 shots in the third quarter when he limited the dynamic Bandits offense to just one goal.

For PCLC on offense, Will Malcom led the way with seven points (4G/3A), including two goals in the fourth quarter to bring Panther City within one and then to tie the game at 10 goals apiece. His first fourth-quarter goal was a short-handed goal and was his first short-handed goal of the season. The OT hero, Donville, finished with five points (3G/2A) and he has now recorded hat tricks in consecutive games and overall, it was his fifth of the season. He set a new career high in goals scored in a single season as well, as he has now recorded 25 goals after netting 23 in his rookie season.

Callum Crawford returned after a two-game absence and was quiet through three quarters, but came alive in the fourth quarter when his team needed him most. He assisted on Malcom’s two fourth-quarter goals and then with Panther City down 11-10 late in the fourth and the shot clock falling, Crawford sniped one from deep past Buffalo’s Matt Vinc to tie the game at 11 with 20 seconds remaining in the contest. He then assisted on the game winner in OT.

Panther City has their final off weekend next weekend, before a home-away double header weekend to begin April. They will head to San Diego to face the Seals on April 5 and then fly back to Texas to take on the Philadelphia Wings on Sunday, April 7.

POST GAME QUOTES

 

HEAD COACH TRACEY KELUSKY QUOTES

On the team being in seven one-goal games this season…

“We are doing our best to [entertain] the fans and draw the fans from Fort Worth [laughs]. What a game! It is exciting. We want to be up by a couple, three or five and finish games, but it is a one-goal league. It always has been. The cream always rises to the top. This is a huge win for us. With all of our one-goal games this year it is starting to build some character in our locker room. It certainly helps a lot when you play the defending champs and you are able to come out on top.”

On the play of Ty Thompson…

“Just an awesome teammate. He is a guy that is always coming to work. Always learning. Always asking questions. He was prepared. I love the fact that we were able to insert him and he got two big [goals] for us. 17 [Mathieu Gautier] was out and he knew he was out. Gautier was in Thompsons ear with our play calls, our power play calls and helping him achieve what he wants to achieve. That is the sign of a good teammate. 61 [Thompson] certainly provided us some depth tonight and when he cashes twice it is a bonus.

On the frustration of the power play compared to manufacturing five-on-five goals…

“Our power play needs a clean-up for sure. I think at the start of the year we were hovering near the top. Last couple games we have taken a step back. We spent a lot of time on it in practice yesterday. It certainly helps when you have someone of Callum [Crawford’s] stature who can come in and insert him in the power play. He demands respect, which opens up other guys. There [penalty kill] is real good. I don’t know what their stats are, but I know they play real tight. We had to tweak some things we wanted to do on special teams. Any time you can add a Hall of Famer to your lineup for your power play it is a good thing.”

On the play of Will Malcom and his versatility as he recorded 10 LBs tonight…

“He is obviously our go-to guy to put the ball in the back of the net, but Will is the guy we want to be a leader. How you lead is by doing all the little things. I could care less about – obviously the goals are good and you need goals to win, but the manner in which he does it. It is so process oriented. He just does a little bit of everything. He is banging. He is a competitor. He has the assists. He brings a ton of energy. Goals aside, Will Malcom, love him and that is why we promoted him and gave him an ‘A’ this year because it is not just the goals. It is a little bit of everything, which makes him a very well-rounded player.”

On Nick Damude…

“The fact that he has three in his career is pretty remarkable, but I challenged Nicky yesterday. Cam MacLeod has done an outstanding job coming off the bench in my opinion. I think we have two of the best in the league, as far as the tandem [of goalies]. Not that I have ever wavered on the fact that Nick is our starter, but I told him [MacLeod] has earned time, so if you want to continue to be our guy than you have to prove it to me and your teammates and prove it to the naysayers. To a man, he stepped up tonight and he was our best defenseman. In this league, show me a good defense, and I will show you a good goalie. He outplayed Vino [Buffalo’s goalie Matt Vinc] tonight.

On the game winning goal…

“Big players want the ball in key moments and that is what I love about Donville. Second-year guy in this league who wants the ball. If we are going to turn the page and get to the next point as a club then you need your young guys to mature a bit faster and say, ‘Give me the ball. Jump on my back.’ To a man, instead of 98 [Crawford] do it all the time, it is awesome to see 3 [Donville] step up in critical times. Obviously ‘Malcs’ steps up all the time, but it is good to have secondary scoring.”

On how this game propels the team over the final four games…

“The key message tonight for me with our group was our commitment to detail. Maybe we got away from it. It wasn’t that we took steps backwards, but we are almost going back to our first days with us as coaches and a group. Do the little things well all the time and place a high priority on those things and to a man we did that tonight. Our mindset doesn’t change whether it is the fourth to last game or the fourth game. At some point they have to take a little more ownership of it. I said [to the team] at shootaround that at some point in every season the coach hands over the keys and says, ‘You guys do what we have been preaching all year and you take control of it.’ That is the most exhilarating part of the win tonight is that they did.”

GOALIE NICK DAMUDE QUOTES

On his third goal of his career…

“It feels good helping the boys. A goal is whatever if we didn’t win, it would have meant nothing, but it just makes it that more special that we got the win.”

On the gold fish on the back of his helmet and his mindset …

“I struggled a bit early on in this game. They scored the first shot, but the goldfish is about the motto, ‘What’s Next’.  We preach it with our team. I have always been a firm believer that good goalies find a way. Everybody has a bad game, but it’s what you do in the next game that matters. How do you respond to it? It’s been a rollercoaster all year and we just got to figure out a way to string a couple of good games in a row and figure out how to get some more wins.”

On playing his lacrosse idol Matt Vinc… 

“I’ve dreamed about playing him for a long time and it makes it that more special that we got a win. He’s a hell of a goalie and has inspired me through a lot of my career. It’s pretty special to be on the floor with him.”

On his performance tonight…

“TK preaches it – they’re obviously going to score. [Buffalo’s Josh Byrne and Dhane Smith] are two of the best players in the league. This brings up the goldfish – what’s next. We have a game plan to try and shut them down and limit their opportunities. They’re going to get their shots no matter what you do against them. It’s about limiting them and I think the defense did a pretty good job. Obviously, they got some goals but we limited them to the shots we wanted them to take. Then the ‘O’ went out and did what they needed to do.”

On what was the message from the leadership group going into the last four games…

“We are in the final stretch of the year. We want be hot. For starters, we want to make the playoffs, as that’s the only thing the regular season is about, so that is all we are working for. When you get in the playoffs you want to be on a roll going in so we want to string some wins together get in and then we will be feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

JONATHAN DONVILLE QUOTES

On his overtime game winners and his mindset…

“I try to make more good plays than bad plays. It’s just luck, I think. I try to be in the right place at the right time and having one earlier in the season in OT probably helped this time. I’m just a little more calm and know if I’m put in this spot, I can do it again and I’m just happy it went in.”

On Ty Thompson’s performance…

“I love Ty. He’s my roommate on all of our road trips. I was lucky to win a Minto Cup with him in Orangeville in 2019, so we have been through some battles together. It’s not an easy thing to do what he did. He’s probably sat a few more games than we would have liked this year. That’s just the nature of it when we have so many talented guys on offense. He was just ready when his name was called and as you can see he is a talented guy. He’s 6’6. He’s three inches taller than when I played with him last time. He can really shoot it and that second one especially there’s just not a lot of guys who shoot the ball like that. I’m really proud of him and happy for him to come in and contribute. At the same time, [Mathieu Gautier] is one of the best teammates and players we have. When it’s time for him to go again he’ll be ready too.”

On Nick Damude’s performance… 

“The goal was crazy. It was the third goal of his career and it puts him in some elite company. He also has a lot of time left in his career. He was just incredible. On the jumbotron they played Who is your lacrosse idol and his was Matt Vinc who was in the other goal which is funny. It’s pretty cool for Nick to do that. No surprise he wasn’t super pumped about how it went last week and it just shows the kind of character he has to come back.”

On how it feels to get a win over Dhane Smith and Josh Byrne… 

“I have never played them in the NLL. I have played against them in the PLL and certainly have watched them play at various levels. That’s a championship team over there. They won the last one and they played in the two before that. Those guys are winners and they put a lot of pressure on you. Dhane and Josh are so dynamic and they do the little things right too, which I think is admirable and all those same things can be said about Will. He gets credit around the league, but not enough credit I think. He’s super tough, he’s in incredible shape, plays almost every shift, he’s a great shooter, and a great passer. He came up with some big ones when we needed it there, especially with the [short-handed goal], which was really big for us.”

On Callum Crawford coming back and the power play scoring drought…

“Power plays are just fickle. I think when they’re going well, which we were for most of the season it just feels like everything is going on. Sometimes like the last couple games it feels like nothing’s going on. [Buffalo] does a great job similar to Philly, who we just played, with by packing the crease with bodies and making it really hard to get shots through. It’s hard to score and also hard to not get frustrated. I think that when your shots don’t even get to the net it gets to guys sometimes. I thought we did a good job of staying patient and a good feed from Callum to Will. Willy scored some really big goals for us this year.”

On messages from the leadership group heading into the double header…

“I think we are still looking for consistency. I think that there are two sides to that. On one hand there have been several nights when we wished we gave better efforts like last weekend. Then there have been nights like tonight where we could have folded and been 6-8 right now. But we are back to .500 and we are still alive. But that’s all we are… alive. We have four games left. We have to win a couple of those and we play some really good teams. There isn’t any specific messaging about the double header. It’s just worrying about the Friday night game in San Diego, but in the meantime, we have a bye weekend next weekend. Easter weekend. It will be nice to see my family and enjoy some time away and really get the mind and body right for a huge stretch run here.”

Panther City Lacrosse Club