August 25, 2013

Veterans Grant, Powell Prove Age is Just a Number

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

John Grant Jr. scored four goals and was named MVP of the Bayhawks' 10-9 win over Charlotte for the MLL title on Sunday at PPL Park.
© Kevin P. Tucker

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CHESTER, Pa. -- One is 37 years old and the other 39, but Casey Powell and John Grant Jr. on Sunday played closer to their jersey numbers, 22 and 24, as the Chesapeake Bayhawks beat the Charlotte Hounds 10-9 for the Major League Lacrosse title in front of 3,792 fans at PPL Park just outside Philadelphia.

Grant Jr. scored all four of his goals in consecutive fashion to give the Bayhawks 6-2 lead early in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Powell had one goal and two assists in the first half.

For Chesapeake's second goal of the game, Grant tossed a behind-the-back pass to start a play that ended with Powell throwing a behind-the-back assist for a Ben Rubeor score.

Powell, for his lone goal, executed a picture-perfect dodge from X on Hounds rookie short-stick defensive midfielder Josh Hawkins.

If that's old man lacrosse, then everyone should play it.

"We were talking [Saturday night]," Powell said. "As we get older, you don't get these opportunities too often. We knew we wanted to capitalize. John played a great first half. I tried to do my thing. My legs felt great in the first half, and we just carried it on to victory."

There they were, one Canadian and one American, both of them all-time greats pulling the strings on the upstart Hounds and Chesapeake's third MLL title in four years.

Really, the performance was more than 20 years in the making.

Powell said he and Grant first met each other in 1991 at a lacrosse camp in upstate New York. Grant's father, Canadian lacrosse legend John Grant Sr., took a liking to Powell's stick skills. Grant Jr. and Powell were paired up on a team and dominated the camp.

"He kind of knew about me then, and I kind of knew about him," Powell said. "As we got older, we had some battles growing up."

The pair have gotten closer as they've gotten older, rooming on the road with both the Bayhawks and the National Lacrosse League's Colorado Mammoth. In fact, Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle said that Powell getting traded to the Mammoth in 2011 was probably the only reason Powell joined the Bayhawks this season.

Powell retired from MLL after playing just three games with the Hamilton Nationals in 2012. The Bayhawks took him with the 32nd overall pick in December's supplemental draft, and from then on Grant and fellow Bayhawks veteran Brian Spallina, who won his sixth MLL title on Sunday, leaned heavily on Powell to join them for the summer. Phone calls, texts, "Rocky" quotes, you name it. Powell joined the team with four games left in the regular season, similarly to when he joined the Hamilton down the stretch for a run to the MLL title game in 2011.

Both said they'd like to back with Chesapeake for another season, and want to continue their success in the NLL with the Mammoth this winter. Both are also gearing up for another run with Team USA and Team Canada next summer at the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships in Denver.

"Hopefully they don't put me out to pasture," Grant said, with blood oozing from his forehead on the field after the game. "I'd love to play again, but who knows? That's not in my control."

"I tried to retire, but came back," Powell said. "It feels great to be a part of it. If I can contribute in any way I'll probably continue to do this."

After all, age is just a number, albeit nearly twice their jersey numbers.

"We're putting up points and we're still winning," Powell said. "That's all that counts. We love to play the game. We've been doing it for a long time. We're fortunate to have this opportunity. It feels great to win."

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