January 26, 2011

NLL Notebook: Tavares Three Shy of 700

by Neil Stevens | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Neil Stevens asked John Tavares if he could play until he's 60. "Another year or two," the Buffalo Bandits' 42-year-old veteran said. "I think that would be great.

© Larry Palumbo

John Tavares is within three goals of 700.

The 42-year-old Buffalo Bandits star scored three to increase his career total to 697 during a 15-14 home overtime win over Toronto last Saturday.

He scored Buffalo's 14th goal from behind the Rock net with one hand on his stick in an acrobatic leap, and this witness was left wondering if Tavares could play until he's 60.

"I wish I could, but I doubt that very much," said the 20-year veteran. "I'm having a hard enough time now keeping up with the younger guys.

"If I can play another year or two, I think that would be great."

No. 700 could come as soon as this Saturday when the Bandits again play the Rock, but this time in Toronto. Rochester's 43-year-old Gary Gait, his career winding down, is second with 635 and nobody else is close.

Tavares holds all the major NLL career scoring records including total points. He's got 1,480. Next is Gait with 1,164.

Tavares was at HSBC Arena on Friday night to watch his nephew, the New York Islanders star forward who has the same name, play an NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres.

"I love hockey but, wow, what a difference between that and our game Saturday. It was loud and hopping for our game. Sport is entertainment, and I think the people who put on the Bandits game night do it right. After that crowd reaction to what was a great game, how can you not say we have the best fans in the NLL?"

Unenjoyable birthday for Orsen

John Orsen turned 27 on Tuesday, but the Boston Blazers defenseman wasn't about to jump for joy.

Orsen tore an Achilles tendon during an 11-10 OT loss to Rochester on Saturday, which likely means he's done for the season.

"It's a tough loss," teammate Casey Powell told NLL.com. "He's the hardest working guy in the league. He is a warrior. He will be missed."

Orsen, a 6-foot-3, 203-pound defender out of Hofstra University, was in his fifth NLL season. Orsen and Powell are on the Team USA roster for the world indoor tournament in Prague in May.

Snider, Koesterer go at it

Geoff Snider of the Calgary Roughnecks and Jamison Koesterer of the Washington Stealth are two of the best faceoff specialists in pro lacrosse, and they went shoulder to shoulder on Saturday, when Washington emerged with a 19-14 victory.

Who got the best of it?

It was an even split as each team was 15-for-30 on possessions when the two squared off.

Patterson gives Swarm chance to win

Minnesota's Nick Patterson leads all goaltenders in goals against average, 8.85, and in save percentage, .821.

The Edmonton Rush outshot the Swarm 55-38 on Saturday but, with Patterson at his best, the Swarm won 9-8.

Chris Levis of the Colorado Mammoth is second in GAA, 9.07, and third in save percentage, .804.
Brandon Miller of the Philadelphia Wings is third in GAA, 9.33, and second in save percentage, .812. Colorado outshot Philadelphia 51-41 Saturday, but Miller's performance led to an 11-10 Wings win.

Powell, Dawson share points lead

Boston Blazers teammates Casey Powell and Dan Dawson lead all NLL point-getters with 27 each. Powell has 16 goals and 11 assists while Dawson, content to dish the ball off to Powell, has three goals and 24 assists. At this rate, Dawson will smash the single-season assists record of 74 he shares with teammate Josh Sanderson.

Toronto Rock teammates Stephan Leblanc (14g, 12a), Garrett Billings (8g, 17a) and Blaine Manning (7g, 18a) are next in the scoring race.

Jamieson shows he'll be a good one

Being drafted No. 1 is no guarantee of future stardom in any sport, but Rochester Knighthawks rookie Cody Jamieson is showing he'll be a good one, as he leads all first-year players in goals, eight, and in points, 11. The Six Nations product has a great shot and has the knack of working himself into the best possible position to launch it.

Aaron Pascas of the Toronto Rock is second among rookies in goals (six) and in points (eight). The walk-on prospect from British Columbia not only made the team, but he's also shown a willingness to take a hit to wiggle into position for a pass.

Rookie Boston defenseman Kyle Rubisch continues to impress. The native of Brampton, Ontario, gathered in 16 loose balls in his team's two weekend overtime losses. He's been so impressive that he's been named to Canada's roster for the world tournament.

Buffalo, Denver still NLL hot spots

The Buffalo Bandits drew 16,685 for their home opener Saturday, while the Colorado Mammoth counted 16,034 in Denver. Other NLL teams aren't coming close to that in attendance.

The fact the Mammoth can fill their arena without having won a home game since 2009 is a testament to the loyalty of their great fans, and says a lot about how sports fans in the Denver region have taken to lacrosse.

Toronto, which just can't seem to get back over 10,000 on a consistent basis despite going to the Champion's Cup final last spring, had 9,109 for its thrilling 15-14 overtime win over Boston last Friday. If that doesn't fill more seats, nothing will. The days of 16,000-plus crowds at Air Canada Centre are becoming a fading memory.

Boston drew 10,422 for an 11-10 OT loss to Rochester, Calgary had 9,362 for its 19-14 loss to Washington and Minnesota drew 7,042 for its 9-8 win over Edmonton.

Most teams need at least 9,000 to financially break even.

Neil Stevens has covered professional and Canadian summer lacrosse since 1971 for various media outlets, including the Canadian Press. He retired from the CP in 2008. That year, Stevens joined the late Tom Borrelli -- a longtime Lacrosse Magazine contributor -- as the only media members recognized by the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame. He played from age 5 to 23, including three years in the junior ranks and one year (1969) as a professional in St. Catherines, Ontario.

Check laxmagazine.com/nll throughout the season for more from Stevens and coverage of the NLL.

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