March 5, 2009

NLL Notebook: Snider Hospitalized for Two Days

by Theresa Smith | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Philadelphia Wings all-star Geoff Snider suffered a fractured trachea against Edmonton. He finished the game, but had difficulty breathing when a team flight landed in Portland. He was hospitalized for two days and is out indefinitely.
© Philadelphia Wings

Five franchises played two games each last weekend, causing significant shifts in the standings heading into the all-star break -- particularly a tightening in the National Lacrosse League East Division, where the expansion Boston Blazers (7-3) have won five consecutive games to trail the defending champion Buffalo Bandits (7-2) by only half a game.

Despite being on the road and in a funk, Minnesota (4-5) posted the best weekend, breaking a five-game losing streak to defeat Toronto, 13-10, and Buffalo, 16-15.

Swarm forward Kevin Buchanan had a breakout two-day performance, scoring seven goals with four assists and 13 loose balls. The former Ohio State star and current NLL Rookie of the Week had been a healthy scratch in five of Minnesota's games.

San Jose (3-6) experienced the opposite result: the Stealth came East and lost to Boston and New York.

Toronto (2-7) also was swept, falling to Minnesota and Rochester and appearing to be out of the playoff race in last place, five games out of first place.

Philadelphia (4-6) split its Western road trip, defeating Edmonton 14-9, and losing to Portland, 12-10.

Scheduled all-star transition starter Geoff Snider was injured against the Rush, but kept playing, unaware that he had fractured his trachea. Snider was unable to return a phone message, but according to a Wings press release, he had difficulty breathing after the team flight landed in Portland and was admitted to the intensive care unit of a local hospital. After being hospitalized for two days while the swelling subsided, Snider returned home to Alberta and is sidelined indefinitely.

New York, minus leading scorer Casey Powell, split contests, losing to Calgary and defeating the Stealth. The Titans (6-5) are 1-2 without Powell.

Rochester (3-5) continues to make strides after an 0-4 start. The Knighthawks' Shawn Evans has ramped up his production the past two weeks, including seven goals, seven assists and 11 loose balls in the 18-10 win over the Rock.

Evans -- only 22 years old, yet a fourth-year veteran -- scored all his goals in the first half while Rochester built a 14-5 lead. The native of lacrosse hotbed Peterborough, Ontario, earned NLL Overall and Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Shawn Williams also filled the score sheet with five goals and five assists, and Hall of Famer Gary Gait scored a hat trick with three helpers.

West Division leader Calgary (6-2) won its lone contest, 12-10 over the Titans, and leads Portland (5-3) by one game.

The LumberJax emerged from a two-week bye to defeat Philadelphia, minus the hospitalized Snider, 12-10. Surprisingly, Portland did not win the faceoff battle in Snider's absence. Jax players Pat Jones and Jamison Koesterer split the duties against a Wings-by-committee of Patrick Heim, Sean Thomson and Steve Panarelli. The Wings won 14 of 26 faceoffs. Of more impact was the scramble for loose balls, which the Jax dominated 79-65, on the strength of all-star starter Brodie Merrill (11), Richard Morgan (9) and Luke Forget (8). The Jax also shut down 2008 Most Valuable Player Athan Iannucci, limiting him to one assist in his third full game since returning from knee surgery. Portland's Matt Disher made 45 saves, earning NLL defensive player-of-the-week honors. Six different Jax scored, led by Derek Malawsky's hat trick, plus four assists.

Colorado (4-4), coming off a pair of road losses the previous weekend at San Jose and Edmonton, had a bye in preparation for playing host to Saturday's NLL All-Star game at the Pepsi Center.

Midseason Breakdown

While the All-Star Game marks the midseason break in the 16-game schedule, some teams are well past eight games, including 6-5 New York, which has played a league-high 11 games.

The surprising expansion Blazers (7-3) also have a few in hand, with 10 games in the books.

At this point, the West has clear leaders: Calgary (6-2) and Portland (5-3), middle-of-the-packers Colorado (4-4) and Minnesota (4-5) and cellar dwellers San Jose and Edmonton at 3-6.

In the East, Buffalo (7-2) and Boston (7-3) are the teams to beat. New York (6-5) is blessed with talent, but clearly needs Powell. If he can play in the second half, the Titans will contend.

Philadelphia's fortunes are also linked closely to injured stars. If Iannucci quickly regains form and Snider is back soon, the Wings might gain ground.

Rochester (3-5) is gaining steam, although the Knighthawks might be too far behind and Toronto (2-7) is  likely to have to give away season tickets in 2010. That was the promise to 2009 season ticket purchasers -- if the Rock don't make the 2009 playoffs, they don't pay in 2010.

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