The Chicago Machine had hopes today of handing the Rochester Rattlers a loss and move the Machine’s record to 4-9, but the Machine fell flat in the first quarter as Rochester tallied 8 goals. The Machine couldn’t do anything right in the first quarter and for their play, they should have been using shovels, rather than crosses, given the depth of the hole they dug for themselves, as John Grant found the net eight times, four times in the first quarter. Chicago’s offense finally sputtered to life toward the end of the first and then roared back to life in the second, scoring eight times to trail by only two at halftime. The lack of gas in the Machine’s tank doomed them in the fourth when they let the Rattlers take a two goal lead.
Rochester won 23 of the 34 face-offs and that kept Chicago on their heels for most of the game. The Rattlers came out fired up in the first 18 seconds with a keen pass from Brodie Merrill to John Grant to put Rochester up 1-0. Gavin Prout and Grant would score again in the next 1:25 so that the late arriving Chicago fans walked into a 3-0 deficit very early in the first quarter. For the second goal, Prout barreled through two Chicago defenders to get in point blank range of Chicago goalie Mike Gabel who stopped 16 shots in the game, while 30 ticks later Grant pushed in his second goal also on an assist by Merrill. Merrill was sharp in bringing the ball into the attack area for he had three assists in the game, and all of them went to Grant, who was dealdy when crossing the crease. Merrill’s performance gave him nine assists on the year for a total of 14 points.
Grant had the hot hand today scoring eight times and pushing himself to the top ranking in the MLL for goals scored with 47 in 12 games and he ended the regular season wth a total of 64 points, taking home his second straight MLL points title. Kevin Leveille set his own record by scoring in the game and establishing a scoring streak of 48 straight games. On the face-off side of things, Alex Smith’s 23 wins gave him the single season record for victories at the mid-stripe with 249 wins, bypassing Peter Vlahakis of the Lizards and breaking Paul Canatabene’s prior record set with the Bayhawks. The Rattlers established a 7-0 lead at 5:14 when Garnt scored his fourth with a sick behind the back strike that found the inside of the right pipe as he crossed the crease. At 4:35, new Machine acquisition David Mitchell, scored off a pass from Brendan Cannon to put Chicago on the board, but that score was answered a minute later by Casey Powell, who took the ball north of the two-point line and drove straight to the goal through three defenders to make it 8-1.
Kevin Leveille and Steve Brooks gave Chicago a push with two goals flanking the end of the first quarter to narrow the gap to 8-3 but Joe Walters used a roll move to beat Gabel and enlarge the gap to 9-3. Chicago put together a three goal streak in a three-minute span to narrow the score to 9-6 behind scores by Shanahan, Brooks and Heim, with Books using a nice overhand jump shot from up right to shoot over Merrill. Merrill responded with his third feed to Grant who made it 10-6 and then Chicago nailed the net four times to tie the score at 10 all in less than three minutes. Levin was jumped by Chicago during a clear and Terry Kimener scooped up the loose ball and quick-sticked it past Levin for his goal. Brian Clayto was fed by Mike Leveille at the left pipe for the tying score. Grant and Colin Doyle scored next for Rochester to give the Rattlers a 12-10 lead at the half.
Chicago pressed in the third quarter and fought back with three goals to tie the game again at 13-13 but a pair of goals by Doyle and Merrill put Rochester up for good at 15-13 and Mike Leveille could only narrow the lead to one goal, twice in the fourth quarter at 15-14 and 16-15 before the Machine ran out of gas. Rochester owned the last six minutes of the game, peppering gable with shots and converting three of them to take the 19-15 victory.