March 19, 2009

Contenders Stand Pat at NLL Trading Deadline

by Theresa Smith | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

The National Lacrosse League trading deadline came and went Tuesday afternoon without the major moves of a year ago.

The only significant deal was an exchange between Edmonton and Toronto. Steve Dietrich, the only NLL goalkeeper to win league MVP honors, was sent to the Rock in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2009 draft.

Rush general manager Bob Hamley also sent Andrew Biers, who had appeared in only two games, to the Stealth for a first-round selection in the 2009 draft.

Keith Cromwell, whose New York day job prevented him from commuting to Minnesota, was traded by the Swarm to the Titans for a conditional second-round pick in the 2009 draft.

The Titans also exchanged Jamie Rooney with Rochester's Bill Greer.

"It seems to get quieter every year, and I think it is because of the parity in the league,'' said Portland general manager and head coach Derek Keenan. "I talked to a few guys, but nothing came to fruition."

Defending NLL champion Buffalo, which made the fewest moves in the offseason, also stayed firm, continuing to prize cohesion and stability.

"If we take care of ourselves, we'll be all right," said Bandits general manager and head coach Darris Kilgour.

"Obviously, continuity is more important than trying to make a move -- unless it's something you can't turn down, and that obviously never happened," said Minnesota head coach Duane Jacobs. "Everybody was standing pat because they feel they have a chance for the playoffs."

Colorado also declined to make a trade.

"We were not going to get anybody better than what we have," said general manager Steve Govett, who also was not willing to part with his draft picks, two in the first round each of the next two years.

On the floor last week, there were three one-goal games. Rochester beat Buffalo, 15-14, in overtime; Toronto beat Boston, 9-8; and Minnesota beat Philadelphia, 13-12.

In other action Colorado defeated San Jose, 14-11, and Calgary rolled to a 22-10 rout of Edmonton.

Gait on O'Toole: That's more like it

Rochester head coach Paul Gait credited goaltender Pat O'Toole for holding defending champion Buffalo to four goals in the second half.

"I know its is important to have a good goalie in this league," Gait said. "I expected him to be the anchor. When he plays a half like he did Saturday, that's the kind of effort that can carry a team to victory not only that game, but the playoffs."

NLL scoring leader Mark Steenhuis (36 goals, 37 assists) was held to one goal and two assists. John Tavares paced Buffalo with four goals and three assists, and Roger Vyse scored a hat trick.

The Knighthawks' offense was led by Shawn Evans, who earned NLL Player of the Week honors for his four goals, six assists and 11 loose balls.

Toronto not throwing in the towel

The Rock upset the high-flying Blazers, stopping their five-game winning streak with a 47-save effort by goaltender Bob Watson.

Watson made a game-saving stop in OT before Scott Campbell scored the game-winner 37 seconds into overtime on a feed from Peter Lough. It was Campbell's only goal of the game and Lough's lone assist, along with a game-high 13 loose balls.

"We truly believe we can still make the playoffs, and that was one step in the right direction," said Toronto head coach Jamie Batley.

Luke Wiles led the Rock with three goals and two assists.

Boston scoring leader Dan Dawson was limited to two goals and three assists. Anthony Cosmo made 43 saves in the loss.

Swarm carries momentum

Minnesota's Dan Marohl scored his fourth goal of the game for the game-winner against the Wings.

The Swarm scored four goals on eight shots to open the contest, chasing Brandon Miller out of the net. Rob Blasdell was superb in relief, stopping 41 of 50 shots.

The game was clean, with just 22 minutes combined in penalties.

The Wings missed all-star Geoff Snider in several areas, including faceoffs, where they lost 19 of 29 draws. Snider continues to heal from a fractured trachea sustained against Edmonton on Feb. 27.

"It was a good game," said Swarm head coach Duane Jacobs. "We actually had a good start to the game, our better play carried over since the all-star game, and we were able to get past .500. It was a big weekend, and they all seem to be big from here on out."
Minus Murray, Mammoth turns to Guze

Colorado lost all-star defenseman Bruce Murray to a knee injury on the opening faceoff, but escaped HP Pavilion with a 14-11 win to snap a two-game losing streak and end San Jose's three-game home win streak.

"It was a pretty gutsy effort for the defense to be a man down seven seconds into the game," said Colorado head coach Bob McMahon.

In his first appearance since signing with the Mammoth on Feb. 21, fifth-year defenseman Ray Guze was effective against Stealth all-star Colin Doyle.

"He is going to be a big part of our plans with Bruce Murray out for the next few weeks," said Mammoth general manager Steve Govett. "When he's determined to play, he's a great defender. When he plays games and takes silly penalties, he's not a factor. He's been great in the locker room. He came in and fit in right away."

Colorado's power play, which has struggled, converted eigh of 10 opportunities, with Brian Langtry scoring two of his game-leading four goals with the man advantage.

Langtry also handed out five assists. Gavin Prout scored two with six helpers, and Jamie Shewchuk scored a pair and assisted on four others.

Andrew Leyson made 42 saves, including 13 in the fourth quarter.

Stealth searches for consistency

San Jose assistant coach Chris Hall bemoaned his team's inconsistency, noting that when it gets one area fixed, such as penalty killing, another area, like power-play conversion, breaks down.

"We've got to find a game where we put it all together," he said.

A highlight for San Jose was the faceoff dominance of Steve McKinlay, who was 19-for-27.

Gloves drop in Battle of Alberta

The lone lopsided game was Calgary's conquest of the Rush.

It was over early -- the Roughnecks built a 10-1, first-quarter lead.

Rush goaltender Steve Dietrich was pulled after allowing 12 goals on 24 shots and replaced by Chris Levis, who made 26 saves on 36 shots.

Calgary players filled the stat lines, led by Dane Dobbie's seven goals and four assists. Scott Ranger scored 10 points, including four goals. Josh Sanderson had a hat trick and six helpers, and Tracey Kelusky handed out a game-high seven assists and scored once.

"Last week was very disappointing,'' said Edmonton coach Bob Hamley. "Calgary is a very good team, full marks to them.''

The third quarter of the Battle of Alberta was fight filled. Edmonton racked up 94 minutes in penalties and Calgary totaled 72.

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