NoE38

North American Markball League; A Fictional Sport & A Fictional History: 1965 NAML Offseason

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Proud of my Walleye for getting their first playoff win! It's a shame they couldn't get it done against Michigan, but that was one hell of a game. I'm guessing Michigan will take home the cup for the second year in a row.

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1964 Urquhart Cup

Date: September 26, 2018

Location: Canada's Field, Toronto, ON

Weather: 72°F (22°C), Mostly Cloudy, Moderate Breeze

Attendance: 55,347

 

It was a once-in-a-lifetime day for the Nationals faithful at Canada's field, as they packed the stadium to cheer on their heroes as they took on the opposing Michigan Bandits. The stadium was almost solely filled with Toronto supporters, but there was one Bandits supporter group at their end of the field.

 

After the 50,000 strong sang along to O Canada, Referee Finlay Brent got the two teams together, then the game commenced. Much to the fans' delight, big Toronto rover Mike DiCarlo won the opening bounce, and the Nats managed to hold on to the ball for the first minute and a half, but could only manage a weak shot on Rudy Nicholas. After a few minutes of back-and-forth action, Michigan would open the scoring with Hugh Westbrook shooting one upstairs on Andy Kappert. The Nats would get a point on the next rush, but Michigan responded with two points of their own, taking a 6-1 lead 7 minutes in. After a Westbrook shot hit the post, the Nats would come back, and after making a nice cut past a defender, Wallace Cook would score his first goal in 51 games, getting the Stallions within one. Less than three minutes later, Ciril Vlasic would unleash a shot past Nicholas, giving Toronto their first lead, and they weren't done, as Georges Covieu increased the lead soon after, pleasing the Nationals supporters. Toronto added a couple of points and were doing a good job at holding back Michigan's explosive offense, until a shot from a tough angle from Dominic Abrams got past Kappert, giving the Bandits some momentum heading into the second quarter, down by 5.

After 1: Michigan 10, Toronto 15

 

The second frame had a slow start, but the Bandits controlled the ball. The Nats defense wasn't budging despite all the attempted rushes, and they could get any scoring chances. Toronto opened the scoring 7 minutes in with a point from James Jogi, who was having an unusually quiet performance. Michigan would reply with a point of their own, and despite it not being a major score, it seemed to ignite them. Two rushes later, Daniel Thorn deflected an Abrams cross, putting Michigan within one. 2 minutes later, unknown wing Sid Tacost squeaked an outside curler past Kappert, and just like that, the Bandits had the lead. On the very next rush, Michigan came right back, catching a tired Nationals defense off guard. In the end, Thorn scored his second goal in 3 minutes to make the score 23-16. The Toronto supporters were desperately trying to cheer the Nats on, as it looked like the Bandits were unstoppable. Fortunately, the atmosphere seemed to help Toronto, as with 6 minutes left, DiCarlo deflected a corner kick into the net, making it a three-point game. Both teams tightened up defensively for the rest of the quarter, and the only other scoring would be a Westbrook point, making it 24-20 for the Bandits heading into the break.

At the half: Michigan 24, Toronto 20

 

Even though the Bandits dominated the second quarter to take the lead, they showed they were hungry for more, as on the first rush of the quarter, when Kappert got part of a long Westbrook shot, but not enough to keep it out. Over the course of the next three minutes, the two teams exchanged points. The Toronto crowd were once again trying to cheer on their team, but this time, they didn't take advantage of it, and instead Michigan came forward, getting a point and a goal on the fly from George Cankar, extending the lead to double-digits. In the latter part of the quarter, the Nationals started to get restless, and a little more physical, leading to some shoving matches, but no brawls. Despite all this, the Bandits offense kept rolling, getting another point, then Westbrook and Thorn both scored their third goals of the game, Westbrook's on an odd-man rush, and Thorn's off a shot from outside the arc. The Bandits ended their dominant quarter with one last point, making it a 23-point game heading into the final 21 minutes. Despite the odds stacked against them, the Nationals crowd were still going strong, hoping that a miracle could guide them to victory.

After 3: Michigan 44, Toronto 21

 

Almost right away, the Bandits killed any hope of a comeback as Westbrook once again scored on the first rush of the quarter, his fourth of the game. At this point tempers started to flare, and Wallace Cook was getting into a tussle with Tacost, but nobody else joined in the fight. Eventually, the refs split them up, and they both came off for the rest of the game. Over the next 4 minutes, the Bandits reached 50 with two points, and play was slow for the next 12 minutes, with the Bandits trying to run out the clock. Eventually in the last three minutes, James Jogi would get a good shot, but Nicholas deflected it for a point. After a miscue by the Toronto midfield, the Bandits came right back and got another point. Finally, in the last minute, Jogi scored a consolation goal, as it was evident that the Bandits were going to repeat as champions for the second time in their history. Brent blew his whistle, and the Bandit players mobbed each other on the field, as they were now the NAML's most successful team, winning their 5th Urquhart cup. 

Final Score: Michigan 51, Toronto 26

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Final Bracket:

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The Urquhart Cup MVP award was given to Hugh Westbrook, who had a monster game up front, scoring 4 goals. "Games like these are do or die, so I gave it everything I had and I know everyone else on the field did too. Performances like these are what separate the good from the great, and We were better than great." He said of his performance.

 

In the annual commisioner's post-game conference, Thomas Urquhart announced that everything in the Aussie league was ready to go. "We are ready to commence operations next season, and I'm very excited about it. Hopefully introducing our sport to a new market will be a success".

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I can say with certainty now that the Nats are cursed. Maybe House was a mystic or magician in his spare time, because Toronto just can't play a good championship game. As for the Bandits, I can see them in the running again next year for a three-peat, It'll be cool to see how they do.

 

After thinking about it, I'll post the scores from the Canada-USA game and the inaugural logos during the offseason, but other than that, will only do periodic updates on the AML. I've got most of the logos done, so hopefully that will be up soon.

 

Any C&C is welcome.

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17 hours ago, BellaSpurs said:

Was this the biggest blowout in urquhart cup history?

Surprisingly, this was only the third-largest victory in Urquhart Cup history. The largest was in 1956, when the Crusaders clobbered Montreal 54-22. the second-largest came only a year later, when Philly defeated the Warriors by a similar scoreline, 51-23.

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1964 NAML Offseason:

 

AML unveils team logos

Prior to the first Canada-USA game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the AML showed off the original 8 teams' logos for the first time.

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Ballarat: The Rebels' logo features the Eureka flag within a shield, and the club's initials in the blank space.

Carlton: Carlton's logo is nearly identical to their parent club Washington's, with a C in place of the W.

Geelong: The Cats' logo is also very similar to the VFL teams' logo, with the Football and F being replaced by Markball and an M.

Gold Coast: The GC Crusaders' logo is also like their parent clubs' but with a G around the C and gold in place of white.

Melbourne: The Blazers were the only affiliated team with a new design, with their logo featuring an M and a flaming ball.

Newcastle: The Miners logo features the letter N with a pickaxe coming out of the top.

Sydney: The Sharks crest features a roundel with a shark's silhouette and two stars from the city's flag.

Wollongong: The Ironmen's logo is a cross-section of an I-beam in a diamond, with the city's name in front.

 

Canada, USA play two friendly matches in Melbourne

On January 8th and 9th, 1965 the two nations of Canada and the USA sent their best markball players to play in a two-game friendly series held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. For the opening game, 83,000 people flocked to the MCG to see what was sure to be a good game. For the first three quarters, play was even but the US defense, led by Calvin Black of the Minnesota Walleye, stood its ground, and They led 32-24 after 3. However, the Canadian offense absolutely dominated the final frame, scoring 7 goals and 30 points including 3 goals from Lawrence Sanderson to take the first game 51-37.

 

For the second game, even more people came to the MCG, with an estimated attendance of 92,000 people for the second and deciding game. Once again, the first half was tight, and Black was once again having a fantastic game, holding the Canadian offense to only 1 goal at the half. In the second, the scoring started going up, but this time, it was the American offense that caught fire, blowing the Canadian backline away. Jim Gardenar scored 4 as the US won the game 38-15. The USA had outscored Canada 75-66 over the two games, and while there was no trophy, the Americans were declared winners of the series.

 

During the two games, Thomas Urquhart said he was 'very impressed' at the Australian supporters' appreciation of the sport his father created from Aussie Rules. "I hope that this kind of support will continue for years to come" He told reporters after the game.

 

Crusaders make slight change to away jersey

The Crusaders announced before the season that they would be adding a small pinstripe to the yoke on their away jersey. The move was met with some confusion, as their away was already similar to their archrival Dragons' jerseys, and the pinstripe made it even more similar.

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'Keepers, Warriors make signings

While there were no trades during the offseason, the St. Louis Gatekeepers and Washington Warriors both made signings to improve their depth. St. Louis signed Walleye starting goalie Julius Utimma to a 5-year deal, while the Warriors signed 35-year old Leonard James to a 1-year deal. Utimma was selected by the Walleye as their first-choice keeper in the expansion draft, and is looking to the St. Louis' number 1 for the future, while James previously played for the Warriors from 1946-48, and will most likely be playing his last season this year.

 

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I'm pretty happy with the AML logos, but I'd still like to hear your thoughts on them. Any that need work?

 

Any C&C is appreciated!

 

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1965 NAML Season

The NAML's 19th season of operation was kicked off with the tradition of two days of tripleheaders. Starting things off was a surprising 49-33 Knights win in Philadelphia, followed by a 48-27 of Montreal by Chicago, and a tight 44-39 Nationals victory in LA. The second day featured the Warriors defeat the two-time defending champion Bandits 36-33, Minnesota soundly beat Boston 41-28, and a close 29-24 'Keepers victory in Milwaukee. 

 

In the West, The consensus on who would finish first was split between Michigan, Minnesota, and Chicago, while the Dragons were picked by some as a dark horse to take the bye. In the end, it was the Walleye who finished on top for the first time in franchise history, clinching it in the final week of the season. Calvin Black played on another level all year, taking home the Chester Harland Award as league MVP. Chris Garafalo also played great up front, scoring 36 times, a career-high. In net, rookie Edouard Wallace also played outstanding, leading the league in wins with 15. Minnesota's final record was 16-6. In second were the back-to-back champion Michigan Bandits. Despite a mediocre opening 4 games, Hugh Westbrook and Daniel Thorn would catch fire, and the rest of the team followed. Westbrook and Thorn kicked a combined 72 goals, while Rudy Nicolas was a beast between the posts, winning the Ben Legrand Award as best goalie. Another big surprise for Michigan was rookie wing Wally Inger, who drew comparisons to Crusaders great John Peters by several columnists. The Bandits finished 1 win back of Minnesota, at 15-7. In third and grabbing the final spot were the Chicago Crusaders. It was an unusual year in Chicago, who had no players stand up above the rest. Instead, it was a full team effort as almost every player gave 110% every night. However, The Crusaders weren't able to hold onto leads late, causing them to fall off a bit near the end of the year, as they finished 13-9. In fourth, missing by just 3 points, were the Milwaukee Dragons. Despite a hot start, cooled off a bit halfway through. Hugh Pettas and forward Frank Schermini, who ended up atop the league in scoring, led them to a hot streak for the next few weeks, and they were tied for the lead with 5 weeks to go. However, they only won once for the rest of the year, and lost a heartbreaker to the Crusaders on the final week, leaving them on the outside looking in. Milwaukee finished 12-10. In fifth were the St. Louis Gatekeepers, who with the arrival of Julius Utimma in net, helped their defense play their best markball in a long time. Defender James Murbey had a breakout year in the back, including a fantastic goal-line save in week 15 in the dying seconds, helping the 'Keepers secure a win over Montreal. St. Louis finished at 9-13. In last were the Los Angeles Guardians, who were still looking for their first taste of success. Despite looking good at times, LA could never find consistency, and always had one bad play per game that shifted momentum the other way. Despite these, there were some bright spots, including forward Paul Quigley and centre Kevin Royce. The Guardians managed 6 wins during the season, finishing 6-16.

 

In the east, it was another year of Toronto domination. Despite the media still predicting their downfall, the Stallions remained strong all year, finishing a record 7 games above the second place team in the conference. James Jogi cemented himself as a superstar, and Ciril Vlasic and Theo Krakowski flanked him up front, creating a three-headed monster that was almost unstoppable. The three of them combined for 87 goals and several more assists. The Nats finished 18-4. In second was a huge surprise, the New York Knights. Despite the loss of Leonard James, Carmelo Dunn and rookie Conall Kisby lead New York on a surprising run, with the 34-year old Dunn leading the Knights in scoring and Kisby patrolling the midifeld and getting on his opponents nerves without drawing fouls. Other players were bright spots as well, as for the second time in franchise history, they would come into the playoffs with home-field advantage, finishing with an 11-11 record. In third were the Philadelphia Falcons. Despite their stars having below average years, the backups would step in and help the Falcons stay in the playoff hunt for the whole year. Jeremy Markson, who had a slow start, would catch fire in the latter part of the season, and scored a huge 5 goals in their final game to clinch the last spot. Philly also finished with an 11-11 record, but their point differential was lower than New York's, so they would have to play their playoff game away from home. Coming in fourth was a surprising disappointment, the Washington Warriors. Despite Jim Gardenar only getting better and better, the rest of the team couldn't keep up. Lawrence Sanderson and Leonard James, who were both usually consistent despite their age, only kicked a combined 17 goals, and they were both visibly struggling while playing. Sloppy play at times also weren't helping Washington, who had one last chance to clinch a playoff spot against their archrival Falcons, but an uninspired match for them made them miss the playoffs. The Warriors finished 10-12-0. In fifth was another disappointment, the Montreal Évêques. A first place finish a year before wasn't enough for them to even get back into the playoffs as the Paulies suffered from both injuries and poor play all throughout the year. The two-time reigning leading goalkicker Nicolas Bartosh suffered a torn ACL early in the year, and captain Denis De Félix missed games 3 seperate times with a recurring groin injury. Montreal also suffered from bad calls several times during the year, as they plummeted from first to fifth, finishing at 6-16-0. In last were the poor old Boston Wolfhounds, who just couldn't figure themselves out. They had two stars in Vinnie McClelland, Howard Tremble, but once again could never seem to get going, despite having a healthy roster. Management tried hiring a new coach in Tom Mack, but it didn't solve anything as Boston finished at 5-17-0.

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The 1965 NAML Awards were given to:

Chester Harland Award (League MVP): Calvin Black, WB, MIN

Len Garey Memorial Trophy (Top Goalkicker)Frank Schermini, FF, MIL (39 Goals)

Benjamin Legrand Award (Best Goalkeeper): Rudy Nicolas, MCH

 

Rivalry Cup Winners:

Colonial Trophy: Philadelphia (split series with Washington, outscored them 80-64)

St. Laurent Cup: Toronto (Won both games against Montreal)

I-94 Series: Chicago (split series with Milwaukee, outscored them 56-46)

 

Notable Events:

  • Bandits forward George Cankar shocked the NAML midway through the year, annoucing that he was hired by the Warriors as their coach after a poor start by Robert Aldermount.
  • After Montreal forward Michael Jones stayed down on the field after a hard hit, captain Dénis De Félix carried him off the field in order to be treated. It was later discovered Jones cracked his skull, and he never played again.
  • Amateurs from New York and Ontario faced off in two matches, hoping to be recognized and potentially picked up by NAML teams. New York won the first match 61-41, while Ontario was victorious the second time around, winning 30-9.
  • For the first time in NAML history, there were two winner-take-all matches in the final week to clinch a playoff spot. Philadelphia defeated Washington 50-32 in the Eastern one, while the Crusaders defeated the Dragons 35-16 in the Western affair.

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There's the season post. As always there were some surprises. New York was a huge shocker, as well as Montreal. Excited to see what happens in the playoffs

 

Any C&C is appreciated!

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Go Walleye! Taking that top spot in the west AND having the league MVP... not too bad

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Minnesota is flexing so hard on New York tbh, three seasons in theyre already a better franchise

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And at the moment, do all teams play each other twice in the NAML? With that, it seems pointless to have divisions - instead it would look better if it was one league table - that way more deserving teams make playoffs (Milwaukee did better than New York and Philadelphia but the Dragons failed to make playoffs unlike the latter two).

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Wow. It takes mediocrity and 11-11 for the Knights to make the playoffs. Also, I'm going with Minny hosting Philly #TorontoChokesAgain

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Going back to the AML, despite the Carlton Warriors being affiliated with Carlton and the Washington Warriors, would they use a monogram in their jerseys much like Carlton in the AFL (with CMC on the jersey much like their CFC)? Would the Geelong team wear the navy and white hoops much like the Australian rules team? Would the Gold Coast team survive at least a few years since in 1965 their population was quite small and in the present day a professional sports team struggles to survive there - relocation to Brisbane on the cards? Or maybe sometime in the future could Tasmania get a team since Australian rules football is very popular there: if Wollongong can get a team, why not Tasmania?

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On 10/19/2018 at 12:22 AM, Goran The Man said:

And at the moment, do all teams play each other twice in the NAML? With that, it seems pointless to have divisions - instead it would look better if it was one league table - that way more deserving teams make playoffs (Milwaukee did better than New York and Philadelphia but the Dragons failed to make playoffs unlike the latter two).

Currently, teams do play each other twice, but with potential expansion coming soon, this is bound to change. I'll keep the conferences for now because they will get bigger, but I will make sure teams of the same conferences play each other more often later this decade.

 

On 10/20/2018 at 9:58 PM, Goran The Man said:

Going back to the AML, despite the Carlton Warriors being affiliated with Carlton and the Washington Warriors, would they use a monogram in their jerseys much like Carlton in the AFL (with CMC on the jersey much like their CFC)? Would the Geelong team wear the navy and white hoops much like the Australian rules team? Would the Gold Coast team survive at least a few years since in 1965 their population was quite small and in the present day a professional sports team struggles to survive there - relocation to Brisbane on the cards? Or maybe sometime in the future could Tasmania get a team since Australian rules football is very popular there: if Wollongong can get a team, why not Tasmania?

My idea for Carlton was to have the logo be like Washington, and the jerseys be like the Blues, so yes, there would be a CMC on the jersey. For Geelong, the jerseys are the exact same, but with the sleeves. As for Gold Coast and potential expansion, I predict that the Crusaders will only survive a couple years before moving to Brisbane, and it's pretty much guaranteed that next two teams will be awarded to Tasmania, as well as Adelaide.

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Regarding NAML Expansion are the 3rd and 4th place teams on the inside track? Are there any other cities jumping out in front of them?

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5 hours ago, NoE38 said:

Currently, teams do play each other twice, but with potential expansion coming soon, this is bound to change. I'll keep the conferences for now because they will get bigger, but I will make sure teams of the same conferences play each other more often later this decade.

 

My idea for Carlton was to have the logo be like Washington, and the jerseys be like the Blues, so yes, there would be a CMC on the jersey. For Geelong, the jerseys are the exact same, but with the sleeves. As for Gold Coast and potential expansion, I predict that the Crusaders will only survive a couple years before moving to Brisbane, and it's pretty much guaranteed that next two teams will be awarded to Tasmania, as well as Adelaide.

For the Adelaide team, will the team be sponsored by a SANFL team since the Melbourne teams have sponsorship from VFL teams and Geelong is the same too? Plus the SANFL was on par with the VFL in the Australian rules football pyramid in the 1960s.

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On 10/23/2018 at 1:39 AM, Goran The Man said:

For the Adelaide team, will the team be sponsored by a SANFL team since the Melbourne teams have sponsorship from VFL teams and Geelong is the same too? Plus the SANFL was on par with the VFL in the Australian rules football pyramid in the 1960s.

Definitely. Right now, it's between Port Adelaide and Norwood, with the AML announcing the winner this offseason. Tasmania as well might have a sponsored team.

 

1965 NAML Season

First Round

 

(W2) Michigan Bandits vs (W3) Chicago Crusaders

At Windy Park, the Bandits supporters were hoping their team could win a playoff game for the third straight year. Early on, the Bandits took charge of the game, kicking two goals and a point within the first 90 seconds. Michigan continued dominating possession, but on the Crusaders' first chance of the game, Bud Mahoney made an excellent kick past Rudy Nicolas with the outside of his foot. Unfortunately for Chicago, it was all Bandits after that. Hugh Westbrook and Daniel Thorn each scored by deflecting free kicks, and the rest of the Bandits added four points to take a commanding 21-4 lead into the second frame. The Crusaders looked like a different team to start the second quarter, as Jonathan Taylor won a battle for the ball with the Bandits goalie Nicolas, leaving him a wide open net to score. Despite this, the Bandits shook it off, and went back to work offensively. Westbrook scored again off a long bomb, and Dominic Abrams added his name to the scoresheet, kicking a low shot past Joe Register. In the final minute, now trailing by 25, Mahoney converted a penalty shot to make the score 33-12 at halftime. It was a hard, but not impossible deficit for the Crusaders to come back from. In the third, the Crusaders were going for a more defensive approach, and it worked. For the first 8 minutes, the Bandits could only manage one point. Unfortunately, Chicago still couldn't get going offensively, getting 3 points themselves. Eventually, rover Daniel Hooker scored for Michigan, and the game starting becoming quicker again. The Crusaders responded with a point and goal from Andy Bonsaigh, and got several more chances, but Nicolas was in the middle of a great performance, and wasn't getting scored on easily. In the final minute, Mahoney got a great chance to score his third, but Nicolas denied him with his fingertips. The Bandits kicked the ball upfield, and Westbrook manage to get it past Register with 20 second to play, making it 42-20 after 3. In the fourth, the Crusaders still weren't giving up, but their offense was still very lacking. For the first half of the quarter, play was slow, with very few chances between the two teams. Finally, 13 minutes in, Thorn continued the narrative, scoring to make it 46-21 by deflecting a corner. With the goal, play started to get quicker, and a Bonsaigh shot was saved by Nicolas, but deflected out for a point. There would be no further scoring until Thorn kicked another goal in the final minute. After the goal, Thorn celebrated a little, drawing some pushes from the Crusaders, but nothing further than that. In the end, if was the Bandits who blew the Crusaders out of the water, winning by a score of 50-21 in front of their home fans, who were ready to travel to Minnesota for the Western final.

 

(E2) New York Knights vs (E3) Philadelphia Falcons

In New York, Manhattan Stadium was unusually packed as the Knights hosted their second ever home playoff game against the Philadelphia Falcons. Play was fast-paced to start, but there would be no scoring until 6 minutes in, with Carmelo Dunn giving the Knights a point. After the icebreaker, it was goals galore for both teams. Jeremy Markson got the Falcons on the board, but Patrick Herbertson responded right after for New York. The two teams traded goals one more, then the Falcons hit a groove and scored 3 consecutive times, getting goals from Patrick MacKenzie, Markson, and Will Hernandez to take a 20-9 lead. In the final minutes, the Knights would get another goal and a point. Dunn had a great chance to score, but he hit the post, not getting any points. After 1, the Falcons held a 6-point lead. To start the second, the Falcons had a good offensive spurt, but only managed two more points on Knights goalie Jimmy Mithers.  Herbertson scored off of a nice team effort for the Knights to make it 22-18, but the Falcons responded right back with a point from MacKenzie off a corner. Later on in the quarter, Markson scored again, and it looked like the Falcons were going to have a strong lead at the half. But out of nowhere, the Knights offense ignited in the final minutes, getting a goal and point to cut the deficit to 4 at halftime. Most of the broadcasters agreed that the Knights were going to explode in the second half, and they were right. In the first two minutes, Dunn and Zachariah Coughlin gave the Knights their first lead since the first quarter. The Falcons tried responding right after, but Mithers stood tall, only allowing a point. The Knights continued on dominating, getting two more goals to increase their lead to 11. In the second part of the quarter, Philly got a major boost, with Michael Pronyk scoring off a great effort. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the Knights wouldn't let  them get anything more, finishing the quarter with a point and two goals from Dunn, ending the Knights' highest-scoring quarter in franchise history, getting 25 points to take a 48-32 lead. Unlike the third quarter, the fourth was very slow and defensive, with the first score being a New York point 9 minutes in, and Sully Kendrick would score his first goal in 92 games to make it 53-32 New York a minute later. MacKenzie would kick a consolation goal for the Falcons in the dying minutes. To add salt in the Falcons' wound, Herbertson would score off of the ensuing rush to end the game with a 57-36 score. The game was historic for New York, who set records for total points in a game, goals in a game, goals in a quarter, and points in a quarter. With the victory, the Knights advance to Toronto for the Eastern Final.

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Semifinals

(W1) Minnesota Walleye vs (W2) Michigan Bandits

Alumni Stadium was buzzing with excitement as the Minnesota Walleye looked to advance to their first ever Urquhart Cup, but standing in their way were the seemingly unstoppable Michigan Bandits, looking for their third consecutive Cup appearance and 4th in the last 7 years. Despite having the buzzing home crowd, the Walleye offense couldn't get their act together. There was no score until the 7-minute mark, when Daniel Thorn kicked one top corner on the edge of the arc. Over the next 9 minutes, the Bandits offense came to life, getting several chances and converting them. The defense stood strong as well, as the Bandits scored the first 14 points of the game, silencing the home crowd. Fortunately, the Walleye finally broke through late, getting a goal and point from Chris Garafalo to make it 14-5 after 21. In the second, the Walleye rode on their late momentum, scoring the first two goals of the quarter to get within 1 point. Garafalo had a great chance to take the lead, and kicked a rolling ball past Rudy Nicolas, but defender Laurence Paul came sliding it, hitting it off the goal line and out of danger. There would be a long period of slow play, then the Bandits got a goal from Dominic Abrams and a point from Hugh Westbrook. Todd Irving potted one late for the Walleye, but Westbrook would come right back and bury a chance from mid-range. At the half, the Bandits held onto their lead, and the score was 23-17 for Michigan. The third quarter started quickly, with both teams exchanging points. Right after the second point, Thorn spectacularly volleyed a bouncing ball that beat Edouard Wallace low, much to the delight of the travelling Bandits faithful. 2 minutes later, Garafalo responded with a crazy goal of his own, weaving past several defenders before kicking one bar-down. After two Michigan points, Irving scored off a penalty, and added a point in the final minute, putting the Walleye within three heading into the final quarter. In the fourth, just like the two first round games, the play was slow, with neither team getting a good chance until Abrams deflected in a corner 7 minutes in, increasing the lead to 7. The Walleye tried to press offensively, but Michigan Coach Grad Rox's defensive tactics were paying off, frustrating the Minnesota players. Westbrook kicked a late point as pushing ensued between the two teams. There were a couple punches thrown, but nothing more. The referee blew his whistle as the Bandits came onto the field celebrating their third consecutive year in the Urquhart Cup, winning by a score of 35-27 away from home.
 

(E1) Toronto Nationals vs (W2) New York Knights

Canada's Field was hoping that this would be the year that the Nats could win it all for the first time since 1950. As the players took the field, the stadium was as loud as ever. The game opened up fast-paced and offensive. the first scoring came 4 minutes in, off a point from James Jogi. However, on the ensuing rush, Carmelo Dunn showed he had plenty left in the tank, beating Andy Kappert from outside the arc. After another Toronto point, Theo Krakowski gave Toronto the lead back, deflecting a free kick, but Patrick Herbertson gave it right back to the Knights off a nice feed from Dunn. Over the next minute, the Stallions offense operated at a high speed, getting two points to tie and a Ciril Vlasic goal all within two minutes to give Toronto their biggest lead yet. Gordie White tied the game once again, but a late point from Vlasic gave Toronto a 1-point lead after 1. In the second, the play was slow to start, but Dunn tied the game 8 minutes in with a point off a deflection. Over the next 4 minutes, the Toronto offense was fast-paced again, getting two goals from Jogi and another from Krakowski, making it 25-13. They would get many more chances on rushes over the rest of the quarter, but the usually shaky Jimmy Mithers was sharp, only allowing points until halftime, with Toronto leading by 15 and in great position. In the third, it looked like the Nats were continuing to cruise past the Knights, increasing their lead to 20 7 minutes into the quarter. Then, all of a sudden, New York ignited and looked scary, it started with a point and goal from Dunn, then goals from Herbertson and Edward Mora, cutting the lead to 7 in just 8 minutes, and they weren't done. Mora kicked two more points, and Herbertson finished a great rush, putting the Knights within 1. Dunn had a chance to take the lead, but his shot missed wide, tying the game with less than two minutes to go. In the final minute, the Nats had their first rush in seemingly forever, and they managed a point from Vlasic, taking the lead once again after the third, with the score 34-33. In the first 4 minutes of the fourth, the two teams traded goals, and both teams knew whoever had the next goal was most likely going to win the game. In the end, the Nats got that goal, from Vlasic off a corner. with their momentum, Toronto added two points to make it a 7-point lead. Herbertson had a great chance, but Kappert deflected it out for a point. On the ensuing rush, Mora ended up in alone on Kappert, and chipped it over, and the lead was down to 2 with 4 minutes to play. The Nats won the jump-ball, and a Vlasic shot hit the post and got a point, still giving the Knights a chance to take the lead. Unfortunately for them, they couldn't get any good chances, and the Toronto Nationals had won a match for the ages at home, and forced an Urquhart Cup rematch for the first time in NAML history.

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Urquhart Cup Preview:

The Urquhart Cup this year will be held at Milwaukee's Arnold Shannon Stadium, hosting for the first time since 1953. The league announced that next year's clash will be held at Clark Street Stadium in St. Louis, hoping to get the city back into Markball.

 

Toronto Michigan, at Milwaukee, WI

Previous Playoff Game: 1964 Urquhart Cup

Result: Michigan 51-26 Toronto

This has the potential to be a classic talked about for years. The league's first ever rematch, with the two-time defending champion Michigan Bandits, facing a familiar Toronto Nationals team looking for revenge. Even though Toronto has lost in the big game 3 out of the last 5 years, this situation might be what motivates them to finally make it out on top. Expect big games from both teams' big guns, Hugh Westbrook for Michigan and James Jogi for Toronto.

Prediction: The Bandits will win a 51-50 barnburner.

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For some reason, the Knights have looked like a powerhouse in both their first round games, but are unable to replicate that in the semifinals. Granted their performance against the Nats was amazing, but they couldn't pull it off. I think they can actually be a playoff team next year, but who knows.

 

As for the rematch, I'm really excited to simulate it. I think the Nats have a solid case to win here, but deep down, I'm pretty sure they'll blow it as they usually do. We'll see what happens.

 

C&C is appreciated!

 

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