July 22, 2011

Working For The Weekend: MLL Week 9 News and Notes

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Casey Powell, pictured in a Rochester Rattlers uniform, is now property of the Hamilton Nationals after a trade Tuesday. "It's a long shot," Nats coach Regy Thorpe said of Powell joining the team.

©Bryce Vickmark

The trade deadline came and went Tuesday with relatively little activity. One coach surmised teams were unwilling to make significant moves because of the uncertainty involving the number of players teams can protect in this winter's expansion draft for the Charlotte Hounds and Ohio Machine. Another coach, the Chesapeake Bayhawks' Brendan Kelly, said it appears as if teams will keep only 13 players, but no announcement has been made by Major League Lacrosse as of yet.

With that said, there was one notable deal involving a star who hasn't played a single game this season, and a tiny move involving Brett Manney being dealt from Chesapeake to Rochester, a team in need of defensive midfielders. That and more heading into Week 9:

Nats Take a Flier on Powell

Casey Powell? Where are you? The Hamilton Nationals would like it to be in one of their Ferrari Red uniforms.

The Nationals traded Tuesday for Powell from the Rochester Rattlers in exchange for a draft pick, either a second or third rounder depending if Powell reports to Hamilton. Powell has not played this season and the Rattlers put him on the 'Did Not Report' list five days before the trade deadline. Hamilton is essentially taking a shot in the dark that they can convince Powell to suit up a few games down the stretch and into the playoffs. Former Rattlers coach B.J. O'Hara, a former neighbor of Powell, couldn't convince the star, nor could new Rochester coach Tim Soudan, whose team was winless at the time of the trade. (The Rattlers got their first win at Denver on Saturday.)

Rochester will receive a third-round pick in the January 2012 collegiate draft, or a second-rounder if Powell reports to Hamilton. Powell entered the 2011 season as the MLL's all-time leader in points (388).

"I don't know where Casey is," said Soudan, who, when he took over the team, contacted Powell on Facebook, missed a return phone call from him, and had not directly spoken with him. (Soudan had said he presumes Powell is burnt out from the pro game because of commitments with the NLL season, World Indoor Championships, camps and responsibilities as director of lacrosse at Saint Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Fla.). "I was pretty confident that he wasn't going to play this year. If I could get him to play that would be great, and if he's not then maybe we can get some value out of him, and we did."

Nationals coach Regy Thorpe conceded, "It's a long shot," that Powell will play. It was an interesting trade in another respect, considering the Nationals traded veteran John Grant Jr. to Long Island about a month ago to "get younger," and allow players like Jeremy Boltus, Cody Jamieson and Kevin Crowley to flourish. On Wednesday, Thorpe said the team needed a more veteran presence on offense, and that's part of the reason they traded for Powell.

"Right now, we have basically Brodie Merrill and Solomon Bliss leading our team on the defensive end. On the front end, our elder statesman is Jordan Hall, who is still a pretty young guy himself. We just felt if we could get some leadership up there from a guy like Casey, and possibly get him to play, it would give us a really good fit there in the front end if we want to make a run. We'll see how that goes."

The Nationals are 4-4 and in fourth place right now. They face the first-place Boston Cannons (6-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Harvard Stadium.

"It's certainly a long shot," Thorpe said of Powell joining the team. "We would love for him to come out. There's always next year as well there. Our mindset hasn't changed. We're building for the future, but we felt we needed to add a little depth on our offensive end if we're going to make a little run."

Seibald Still on the Mend

Former Tewaaraton winner and Denver Outlaws star midfielder Max Seibald has been hampered by a bad knee all season. Prior to the MLL regular season he had a 20-minute arthroscopic surgical procedure on the knee. He injured it during the final game of the indoor season with the National Lacrosse League's Philadelphia Wings.

He hasn't played at 100-percent all season.

"It has been lingering a little bit," Denver Outlaws coach Tom Slate said, mentioning Seibald's meniscus and MCL. "The good news is, it's gradually getting better. We saw a little bit against Rochester [last week, a 9-8 loss] where he's starting to believe that his knee is good. I talked to him [Wednesday] morning and he's rehabbing and strength training and doing all the things that he would normally do, which is a really good sign. We look forward to seeing the old Max coming up here soon. He's been bothered by [the knee] the last month."

Denver plays Rochester for the second straight week at 7 p.m. Saturday, this time in New York.

"He's doing all the things that he needs to do to get ready," Slate said of Seibald. "He's got a strength coach and a physical therapist, the staff with the Outlaws, who are doing such a great job. They're really helping him along. It is a mental thing. You have to talk him through it. The good thing is we're seeing process. Once we get Max back to full speed, that's going to help some things."

So You're Saying There's a Chance?

With four games to play, all six teams are still mathematically alive for playoff spots. However, three teams can clinch this weekend, which would leave just one spot open the rest of the way.

From the MLL: Boston, at 6-2, missed a chance at clinching last week when it lost to Long Island. The Cannons can clinch a berth with either a win over Hamilton or a loss by Long Island to Chesapeake (7 p.m. Saturday). Either scenario will leave the Cannons with a three game lead on Long Island with four to play and the Cannons holding the tie-breaker by winning the season series.

The Bayhawks (5-3) can be in the postseason with a win over Long Island by four or more goals. That would give them the season series advantage in goal differential over the Lizards.

The Outlaws (5-2) can clinch a spot with a win over Rochester and a Long Island loss.

Drew Adams: 24 Saves

Former Penn State goaltender Drew Adams has become widely respected in the MLL. As a rookie in 2009 he sat behind Brian Dougherty, his former goalie mentor growing up in the Philadelphia area, and then Adams took over as the Long Island Lizards starting goaltender in 2010. He's specialty is stopping opponents one-on-one in close, but in a 24-save performance last Saturday in a 12-11 upset win over Boston, he was stopping everything, coach Jim Mule said.

Adams leads the league with 117 saves, and minutes played. The Lizards will rely on their goalie to help them into the playoffs. The 24 saves marked a career high.

"Drew made the saves he had to plus a bunch of other ones," Mule said. "They weren't just the doorstep saves that he usually makes those incredible saves on. They were mid-range, long-distance. He almost looked like an ice hockey goalie in a sense, the way he was gliding side-to-side."

Monster Injection

Mule turned to an old hand last week against Boston to spark the Lizards offense. MLL all-time leading scorer Tim Goettelmann, pushed out of the starting lineup this season, especially after the Grant trade, was back in the lineup on attack. He had two goals and an assist.

"At 2-5, I wanted to go down with our emotional leader in the lineup," Mule said of Lacrosse Magazine's 2010 Person of the Year. "He brings so much energy to the team, and he provided it again. When we were down 5-0, he had two of the first three goals for us to put us back in the game. He brings a positive attitude in the lineup and he came through for us."

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