February 19, 2009

NLL Week 8 Notebook: The Week That Was

by Theresa Smith | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

And then there were none - no unbeaten teams in the National Lacrosse League, following Colorado's 13-12 triumph over Calgary.

In other action from the week that was: Boston continued to show that is no ordinary expansion team with an 8-4 victory over flu-ridden and injury-wracked Philadelphia, and New York caught fire with a seven-goal third quarter to down Rochester 15-9 in a game that drew 5,187 to Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

(Buffalo's dominance over Toronto is dissected in another Lacrosse Magazine Online article; be sure to check it out.)

Ethington Gets His Due

Fourteen different Mammoth players contributed in the 14-12 win over the Roughnecks, a trend that must continue as the injury-riddled offense shows improvement, but continues to lack the potency of the past.

"The top guys will get their goals, but it is up to the other guys to chip in,'' said free agent rookie Tyler Crompton, who earned NLL rookie of the week honors.

Crompton scored two goals, showing the hustle that earned him a roster spot, particularly on the first one when he chased down a loose ball and carried it in alone against Roughnecks' goaltender Pat Campbell, bouncing it past him.

"I was just trying to get it on net,'' Crompton said. "I didn't want to look like a fool."

His other goal deflected off his stick on a pass from defenseman Tom Ethington.

Ethington, a former University of Denver standout, played his usual physical defense, but chipped in a goal on a high shot, turning to see the net as he shot it.

"I took advantage of the unsettled situation; turned and let it rip,'' he said of picking up a loose ball after a scramble. "Good things happen when you shoot the ball."

Teammate Brian Langtry was pleased to see the underrated Ethington get attention.

"Tom's one of my favorite people in the world,'' he said. "He's about as solid as they come. I hate practicing against him."

It was a wild game, in which Colorado trailed 3-0 early and 10-6 in the third quarter. Each side was burdened by a 5-minute major penalty and Colorado was killing a penalty, down two men for the last one minute, 40 seconds.

Calgary's Josh Sanderson scored in that two-man up situation with 54 seconds remaining to draw within one goal, but a scrambling defense and a few saves by Andrew Leyshon, one particular against Dane Dobbie with 12 seconds remaining ended it in regulation.

"We didn't want to make it easy on ourselves at all,'' said Langtry, who scored a game-high three goals and four assists.

While the offense, which struggled mightily earlier in the season, showed its old explosiveness with Ethington and Gavin Prout scoring 26 seconds apart in the fourth quarter and Matt Leveque and Langtry scoring 15 seconds apart in the third quarter, it is still not always a threat.

"I'd like to be a little more consistent,'' Langtry said. "We have stretches where we don't score for eight minutes and that's kind of frustrating, but it is definitely getting better. We're sharing the ball more. We're all kind of similar players. We don't have a guy that's  going to take over a game and when one of us tries to do that, that's when we're not successful.''
Bloom Reborn in Boston

Speedy transition player Jason Bloom scored a game-high three goals with one assist for the Blazers, who swept the season series with the Wings with an 8-4 win.

Bloom was a part-time player in Colorado in 2007 and 2008, shooting .133 and .179 percent, respectively, and scoring a combined seven goals over 19 games.

Reborn in Boston, he has already set a personal-record with seven goals in seven starts and is shooting a sizzling .304. His efforts earned him NLL Transition Player-of-the-week.

Goaltender Anthony Cosmo also was instrumental in the victory, backstopping a defense that held the Wings scoreless for 41 minutes, 45 seconds. He finished with 33 saves.

Teammate Daryl Veltman continued his potential rookie of the year campaign with 13 loose balls, one goal and one assist. Veteran Dan Dawson scored two goals and made three assists.

The Wings sorely miss the production of Athan Iannucci, the 2008 NLL Most Valuable Player. Iannucci rehabilitated his surgically repaired knee in the offseason, appeared in the first quarter against Boston on Jan. 23, then left the floor. Philadelphia management won't comment on his injury.

Mundy Lends a Hand; K-hawks' Struggles Continue

With six assists on Sunday in a 15-9 win over Rochester, New York third-year forward Brendan Mundorf pushed his season total to 21, two shy of the career-best 23 he dished out last season.

Mundorf is part of a potent offense that scored six consecutive goals late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to pull away from the Knighthawks.

Eleven players were involved in the scoring, including Pat Maddalena scored a game-high five goals with three assists. Mike McLellan scored three goals with two assists, Jordan Hall scored twice with four helpers, Casey Powell had two goals and two assists and Ryan Boyle had one goal and six assists.

The Titans made the hustle plays, gaining 86 loose balls to Rochester's 68.

Hall and Greg Peyser each scooped up 11 loose balls. Patrick Merrill and Matt Zash each picked up 10 and Stephen Peyser got nine.

The shooting percentages of the top three Titans' scorers are impressive. McLellan ranks second among the NLL's top 25 scorers with a percentage of .304. Maddalena checks in at .250 and Powell, the NLL leader with 26 goals, shooting at .232 percent.

"With Mike [McLellan] and Pat [Madalena] a majority of their shots are midrange shots, real tight along the crease,'' said New York coach Ed Comeau.

"And being skilled players, they get close shots and their shooting percentage goes way up.

"It's not anything we've done; it's their ability to get open close to the net and to finish.

"Casey is unique. He can shoot anywhere on the floor and goalkeepers struggle with the way he delivers the ball and the way it comes out of his stick."

While New York ranks third in the NLL in shooting percentage at .197 (behind Buffalo's .217 and Calgary's .198), Rochester is second-to-last at .129.

"It's the same old problem," said coach Paul Gait. "We've been struggling to put the ball in the net."

As Gait explained, due to injuries, such as the season-long ones sustained by John Grant Jr. and Scott Evans, he's asking players to take on more demanding scoring roles.

"I'm not honestly sure some can make the adjustment,'' he said. "They've been set in their position for years, now they're being asked to step up and take a new role."

It's the quality of shots and an offensive players' ability to adapt and change. We've had guys who've been second and third and never faced a number one defender.

Now, they struggle. It's a lot harder to get open, a lot harder to get quality shots. Their habits are ingrained, it's difficult for them to adapt and change."

Gary Gait scored three goals with two assists after leading his Syracuse women's team to a 22-3 victory over Providence earlier in the day.

Aaron Wilson matched that mark, but no other Knighthawk scored more than one goal. Jason Henhawk recovered much faster than expected from a hip injury and made three assists and Shawn Williams had one goal and three assists. Steve Toll had two assists and picked up 14 loose balls.

Toll, the NLL's Ironman, increased his consecutive games record to 164.



comments powered by Disqus

More Headlines