February 16, 2011

NLL Notebook: Greer Likely to Return

by Neil Stevens | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

The Minnesota Swarm has lost two in a row with Zack Greer shelved due to a shoulder separation. Greer could return this weekend against Boston or Colorado.

The Minnesota Swarm were without forward Zack Greer for their last two National Lacrosse League games while he recuperated from a shoulder separation suffered in a Jan. 29 game, but he's just about ready to play again.

"It's touch-and-go for this weekend but he'll probably be ready," said Swarm general manager Marty O'Neill.

The Swarm plays at home Saturday against the Boston Blazers and is in Denver on Sunday against the Colorado Mammoth.

Minnesota was 3-1 when Greer went down and has lost its last two games -- 15-12 at Buffalo on Feb. 4 and 12-10 at Rochester on Feb. 12. The acquisition of Jamie Shewchuk from Colorado last week eased the impact of Greer's absence on the left side of the attack.

O'Neill isn't of the opinion losing one man should make a huge difference.

"I don't think it has a bearing on wins or losses," he said. "I'd like to think all 23 of our guys are good."

Another milestone on Tavares' radar

Buffalo Bandits star John Tavares went four goals over the 700 mark with the five that were included in his nine-point splurge in a 16-8 win in Philadelphia last Saturday, so he now needs only one more point for 1,500.

"You run out of words to describe John Tavares," coach Darris Kilgour told NLL.com. "He is amazing. He deserves everything he gets. He is the hardest worker in the game and he might be the smartest guy in the game."

The Bandits will make a presentation to Tavares before they play the Wings at HSBC Arena on Saturday night.

Outside lacrosse, Tavares, 42, is a high school math teacher in Mississauga next door to his home city of Toronto.

Powell set to eclipse Finneran

Casey Powell of the Boston Blazers needs two more points to break Kevin Finneran's record for most regular season points by an American in pro lacrosse history. He'll have a chance to do it when Boston plays the Minnesota Swarm in St. Paul on Saturday.

Finneran, the former Philadelphia star, is first with 564, Powell is second with 563 after his five-point effort in an 11-6 win over Colorado last Saturday, and Jake Bergey, another former Wing, is third with 557.

Powell's 270th goal Saturday gave him the record for most goals, regular season and playoffs combined, by an American. He entered the game tied with Bergey at 269. Bergey still leads the regular-season tally with 256 to Powell's 244.

Powell currently leads the NLL in goals, 24, and points, 49, in eight games.

So far, so good for AI

Athan Iannucci is among the NLL's top scorers, which is remarkable given what the Philadelphia Wings forward has been through.

Casey Powell of the Boston Blazers has a league-best 49 points (24-25) and Iannucci is in 10th spot with 32 (15-17) in seven games.

The native of New Westminster, B.C., won the pro scoring title three years ago with a record 71 goals in 16 games, earning MVP honors in the process, and that was after battling back from a career-threatening back injury. He missed all of last season recuperating from a serious knee injury.

For that kind of determination, Iannucci should get an award.

Rush saves its season

The Edmonton Rush, 0-5 going into a pair of games as underdogs against the Washington Stealth last weekend, saved its season with 14-12 and 15-14 victories.

We asked captain Brodie Merrill what made it happen.

"In all honesty, there was not anything that was drastically different last weekend," he said. "I would say we were able to finish plays much better, both offensively and defensively, especially at critical moments of the game. The margin of victory in this league is very slim, and I think we played hard enough to be on the positive side of some bounces."

Another big test looms as the Rush prepares for a home game against first-place Calgary.

"The mood of the players is positive and confident," Merrill said. "We are trying not to dwell on the fact that we are 2-5. Our focus is strictly on preparing for our game on Sunday against a very good Calgary team."

Whipper still the NLL's best

Toronto Rock goalie Bob Watson's .810 save percentage is best in the NLL among regulars. Watson had a sensational second half Saturday, allowing his teammates to rally from a 6-3 halftime deficit and defeat visiting Calgary 9-8 in overtime.

he rest of the first-stringers and their save percentages: 2. Brandon Miller, Philadelphia, .806; 3. Nick Patterson, Minnesota, .797; 4. Chris Levis, Colorado, .794; 5. Matt Vinc, Rochester, .789; 6. Anthony Cosmo, Boston, .786; 7. Tyler Richards, Washington, .783; 8. Mike Poulin, Calgary, .780; 9. Mike Thompson, Buffalo, .779; 10. Matt Disher, Edmonton, .755.

Sharp goes on the shelf

The loss of defenseman Ryan Sharp, who blew out his right knee during Toronto's 9-8 OT win over Calgary last Saturday, will lead to the reactivation of rookie Glen Bryan from the Rock practice squad.

"Sharpie was fitting in well," said head coach Troy Cordingley. "He was getting better every time out."

"It's a big loss for us," said GM Terry Sanderson.

Toronto acquired Sharp from Minnesota on Jan. 26 for a first-round 2013 entry draft pick. He'd played three games with the Rock. He scored his first goal earlier in the game in which he was injured in an awkward fall while carrying the ball.

Bryan, who captained the Orangeville Northmen to Canadian Jr. A championships in 2008 and 2009, appeared in two Rock games earlier this year.

"Glen Bryan has been on the practice roster and we have lots of confidence in his abilities," Cordingley said.

Sharp will have an MRI exam Thursday to clarify the extent of the injury. He was on crutches after the game. The initial diagnosis was tears of both the MCL and the ACL.

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