Friday, May 1, 2009

Jax Gear Up for Playoffs

By Jeremy Lloyd

Sadly, the playoffs ended for the Trail Blazers last night with a disappointing loss to the Houston Rockets. But for another Portland sports team, the postseason is just getting started. Tonight at 7:30pm at the Rose Garden, the LumberJax will host the San Jose Stealth in the first round of the National Lacrosse League playoffs.

If you haven't yet experienced professional indoor lacrosse, it combines the brutal hits and ferocity of a hockey game with the up-and-down and fast-moving excitement of a basketball game. And with tickets starting at just $10, the price is right.

A LumberJax game is a lot of fun, from the vicious hits on the field to the upbeat atmosphere in the arena, and, of course, the ultra-hot Jax dancers. I'll see you there. Until then, here's a quickie game preview from Jax Media Relations Manager and all around good guy Steven Masters:

The Jax (9-7) finished second in the West after winning three of their final four games. Portland relied heavily on a balanced scoring attack and a physical defense all season.

The team was 5-1 this season when seven or more players scored goals. Portland also saw four different players score 50+ points, which was a franchise best. The team even dished out a franchise-high 280 assists.

Forward Ryan Powell (18 goals, 44 assists) led the team with 62 points. His assist total was a career-high and epitomized the unselfish nature on the offensive end that Head Coach/General Manager Derek Keenan has preached since training camp in November.

On the defensive end, goalie Matt Disher set the tone early on. The cagey veteran finished with 502 saves and only allowed 10.80 goals-per-game. In fact, Disher was at his best when facing a deluge of shots. Portland went 7-2 in games that Disher faced 45 shots on goal or more.

San Jose (7-9) is no stranger to this Portland squad. This will be the fourth time the two rivals have met this season. The Jax won two of the three matchups and split the season series in Portland. Overall, Portland leads the series history, 8-5.

Like Portland, San Jose had a very historic season. The Stealth becamethe fifth team in National Lacrosse League history to outscore their opponents, yet finish with a losing record.

This will be the second consecutive year that the two clubs have met in the postseason. Last year in the West Division Semifinals, Portland traveled to San Jose and dropped a then franchise-high 18 goals on the
Stealth in an 18-16 win.

Portland’s goal early in the season was to first earn a playoff berth, then clinch a home playoff game. The Jax have done both. Now, the focus shifts to advancing to the West Division Championship.

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