March 31, 2011

National Lacrosse League Notebook: Sanderson in Recovery from Second Brain Surgery

by Neil Stevens |

Team Canada goalie and Philadelphia Wings assistant coach Chris Sanderson is "relieved and happy" following his second major brain surgery in three years, according to his wife Brogann. The cancer survivor was named most outstanding goalie of the 2010 world field lacrosse championships despite not having played since the 2006 world games.

© John Strohsacker/

Chris Sanderson's recovery from his second brain surgery has been speedy and uncomplicated.

The 36-year-old resident of Pennington, N.J., who first had a malignant tumor removed from the left side of his head in December 2008, had another tumor removed from the same spot last Friday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. He was well enough to fly home Monday.

"Overall, Chris is feeling great," his wife, Brogann, wrote Wednesday in an entry for the family's journal at ''Emotionally, I think Chris is relieved and happy that surgery went so well and that his functioning, especially speech and language, was not affected. He is anxious to get his treatment plan in place and to get behind a new combination of aggressive therapies."

Sanderson, a former University of Virginia star, is an assistant coach for goaltenders with the NLL's Philadelphia Wings. He was Canada's goalie for the fourth time at the world field lacrosse championships in Manchester, England, last July. He's the only player to be twice named most outstanding goaltender in the world games. He was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2009.

Bandits to retire Rich Kilgour's No. 16

Rich Kilgour's jersey number 16 will be retired by the Buffalo Bandits during a ceremony before an April 16 home game against Boston.

His brother and current GM-head coach Darris Kilgour had his number 43 retired in 2001 by the NLL club. The Bandits also honured Thomas Gardner, a prominent figure in youth lacrosse in Western New York, by retiring number 34 after his passing in 1998.

Rich Kilgour spent his entire 18-year career on Buffalo's defense, including the 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2008 championship seasons. He was captain for 12 years (1998-2009). He retired following the 2009 season and joined the coaching staff in 2011 after one year away from pro lacrosse. He was inducted into the NLL Hall of Fame in 2010.

Chris Corbeil gets around

Buffalo Bandits defenseman Chris Corbeil is a two-sport marvel.

He attends the University of Western Ontario in London, commutes to Bandits games and also skates as a forward on his school's varsity hockey team. The Western Mustangs competed for the Canadian championship last week in the New Brunswick capital of Fredericton.

When the Mustangs were eliminated by New Brunswick on Saturday, Corbeil left in a friend's car at 11 p.m. ADT for the Halifax airport in neighboring Nova Scotia. The drive took four hours. A 6:10 a.m. flight got him to JFK in New York at 7:30 EDT. He then boarded an 8:20 a.m. flight to Minneapolis, where he arrived at 10:40 CDT.

He arrived by taxi at the Xcel Energy Centre in St. Paul at 11:10 and was in Buffalo's lineup for a 1 p.m. game against the Minnesota Swarm. The Bandits won 12-9.

A 4:15 bus to the airport and a 6:55 flight to Chicago got him into O'Hare at 8:20 p.m. He flew 20 minutes later to Buffalo and arrived there at 11:05 p.m. EDT. He caught a ride at 11:20 with Bandits equipment manager Teddy Cordingley to Oakville, Ontario, arriving at 12:45 a.m. Monday.

Later that day, there was a two-hour drive to London to check back into his quarters at 7 p.m.

"The CIS national [hockey] championship was a great experience and an amazing opportunity,'' Corbeil said. "I was grateful I was able to play both hockey and lacrosse during the weekend without having to miss events for either, especially considering the fact that we were able to clinch a playoff spot with the win over Minnesota."

Now that his hockey season is over, Corbeil will only be twice as active as most of us.

Cory Vitarelli makes successful debut

The Rochester Knighthawks waited more than four years to see Cory Vitarelli in their lineup, and he didn't disappoint.

Vitarelli, 25, of Peterborough, Ontario, scored two goals 57 seconds apart in the first quarter of his pro debut to help Rochester to a 13-10 home win over Philadelphia last Saturday.

"It's been a long time coming, and I'm definitely excited to be with the Knighthawks," Vitarelli said.

"We expect him to get better each week as we move forward," said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen.

Vitarelli, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound forward, was the 61st player selected in the 2006 NLL entry draft, but he enrolled at the University of Prince Edward Island instead. Commitments to varsity hockey kept him out of the NLL until his college hockey eligibility expired. Vitarelli played major junior hockey in Toronto from 2002 to 2006. He continued to play lacrosse during his summers with his home-city Lakers and helped them win the Canadian senior championship in 2007 and in 2010.

Casey Powell watch

Boston Blazers forward Casey Powell has moved within six points of retired Philadelphia Wings great Kevin Finneran's record of 644 total points by a U.S. player in indoor pro lacrosse. Finneran amassed 644 regular season and playoff points, and Powell has 638 going into his team's home game Saturday against Rochester.

Watson soon to hold saves record

Toronto Rock goaltender Bob Watson passed the retired Dallas Eliuk last weekend and moved into second place on the all-time saves list.

Pat O'Toole, who retired from the Rochester Knighthawks following the 2010 season, is first with 6,464, Watson now has 6,389 and Eliuk, who enjoyed most of his success with the Philadelphia Wings, now sits third with 6,356 saves.

Watson needs 76 saves to pass O'Toole.

Toronto plays at home Friday against Washington, is in Philadelphia on Saturday and is at home against Buffalo on April 8.

Roughnecks play on

"We intend to finish the season in Calgary," said Roughnecks owner and general manager Brad Banister, adding that the players are all paid up to date. Calgary will look to secure home floor advantage in the NLL playoffs.

Calgary owner-GM Brad Banister, who divulged on Feb. 22 that his team might not survive long enough to complete its 16-game schedule because of financial difficulties, is sounding more optimistic these days.

"The players have been paid up to date and they're focusing on the games ahead," he said Tuesday. "We continue to work on it on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis. We intend to finish the season in Calgary."

The aim for the West Division leaders now is to finish first overall so they can play a championship game in their home arena, Banister said. The 'Necks, playing at a breakneck pace, have won five in a row going into a home-and-home set with Minnesota this weekend.

Goals, goals, goals

Calgary's dynamic offense is producing an average of 12.8 goals a game. Only Washington, at 12.9 a game, is ahead of the 'Necks, and only slightly.

Toronto is next with 11.8 a game, followed by Minnesota at 11.3. The rest: Buffalo 11.1, Edmonton 10.9, Boston 10.2, Rochester 9.6, Philadelphia 9.1 and Colorado 8.9.

Minnesota's Ryan Benesch has scored a league-high 33 goals. Boston's Dan Dawson and Casey Powell are 1-2 in the points race with 73 and 71, respectively.

Rush get ready for Grant

Holding Colorado Mammoth attacker John Grant Jr. in check will be a big concern for the Edmonton Rush when the teams meet Friday in Edmonton and Saturday in Denver with the fourth and final playoff berth in the West Division up for grabs.

"Junior definitely has the greatest stick skills of anyone I have ever played with or against," said Rush defenseman Bill Greer. "I remember the first time I ever covered him. He took a one-handed underhand bounce shot that hit the crossbar. It was at that moment that I understood how good he is.

"He is also one of the most clutch players I have ever played with. He knows how to score in big games and at big moments. That was evident last weekend with his overtime winner."

Campbell an asset for Knighthawks

Scott Campbell is a survivor.

The 29-year-old Canadian leads all Rochester defensemen with six goals, including a team-high three in a 13-10 win over Philadelphia last Saturday. That effort was recognized Wednesday when the NLL named him defensive player of the week.

Campbell started the season with Boston and appeared in four games with the Blazers before being released. He'd been with Toronto from 2006 through 2010 after breaking into the NLL with Minnesota in 2005 as the 80th player selected in his draft year by the now-defunct Columbus Landsharks.

Don't drink and drive

Toronto Rock players joined police officers at a spot check Monday night and handed out ticket vouchers to thank drivers for choosing not to drink and drive. Each voucher was good for a ticket to any one of the team's two remaining regular-season home games.

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