February 1, 2012

Williams Sixth NLL Player to Score 400 Goals

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

Fiftteen-year veteran Shawn Williams scored his 400th career goal Saturday and is closing in on the NLL record for consecutive games played.
© Edmonton Rush

Shawn Williams of the Edmonton Rush has become only the sixth player in pro indoor lacrosse history with 400 goals.

The 15-year NLL vet reached the milestone by scoring three goals in his team's stunning 16-5 road win over the Washington Stealth last Saturday.

The career leaders: 1. John Tavares, 734; 2. Gary Gait, 635; 3. John Grant Jr.; 485; 4. Colin Doyle, 437; 5. Paul Gait, 410; 6. Shawn Williams, 400; 7. Tom Marechek, 399.

Williams is 16 points shy of becoming the sixth player in pro lacrosse history with 1,000 points.

He also is closing in on the league record for most consecutive games played. He'll suit up for his 183rd consecutive game Saturday in Denver. The record is 188 and it is shared by Colin Doyle and Steve Toll.

The trade Derek Keenan made last year to get Williams, goaltender Aaron Bold and a second-round 2012 entry draft pick has to be the best move he's made since being installed as Rush GM-coach.

In Everett, Wash., last weekend, Williams was a key producer up front and Bold stopped 43 or 48 shots. Williams leads the Rush in scoring with 15 points, while Bold has a league-best save percentage of .824. Rochester got Ryan Cousins, Andy Secore and Kedoh Hill in the trade. Cousins and Secore are not on Rochester's active roster and Hill has three points.

Williams gets a chance at 401 with the Rush on the road against the undefeated Colorado Mammoth this Saturday night.

''He's a very smart player and we've got some young players around him like Cory Small and Zack Greer who he's a good mentor to,'' Keenan said during the NLL's weekly coaches' conference call Wednesday. ''He's a very important player on our team.''

Mammoth coach Bob Hamley has a ton of respect for Williams as well.

''He's been one of my favourites to watch for a long time,'' says Hamley.

He's hoping his defensemen don't stand around watching No. 51.

Big Colorado Crowds

The Colorado franchise has been one of the most successful at the gate in its eight years in the NLL and attendance should spike upwards given the 4-0 record going into the home game against the Rush.

There were 15,210 in the Pepsi Center for the latest win. That was after the home opener drew 14,106 going up against NFL playoffs on TV. General manager Steve Govett has assembled a terrific lineup and John Grant Jr. leads the league in scoring with 16 goals and 21 assists for 37 points. Next best to that is the 27 points amassed so far by Rochester's Cody Jamieson.

Dumb Move

Minnesota and Buffalo players were on their way off the floor with Minnesota up 10-5 at the end of the first half last Saturday when Bandits goalie Mike Thompson raised his stick and knocked down a Swarm player, touching off a brawl that resulted in 10 ejections: Billy Dee Smith, Steve Priolo, Jon Harasym, Brandon Francis and Mark Steenhuis of the Bandits and Andrew Suitor, Richard Morgan, Greg Downing, Mitch Belisle and Jeff Gilbert of the Swarm.

Thompson was in the penalty box -- goalies have to serve major penalties in the NLL -- when Ryan Benesch and Callum Crawford scored power-power play goals to open the second half. That ignited a 7-0 third quarter. Thompson's penalty had eliminated any possibility of a Buffalo comeback. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

The Bandits might have thought they could intimidate the Swarm but they were sadly mistaken on the way to one of the most embarrassingly lopsided losses, 19-11, in team history.

Minnesota's MacIntosh Stands Out

As the Swarm pulled away in their total domination of the Bandits, it became increasingly clear that rookie transition runner Jordan MacIntosh is something special. He seemed to control the pace of the action at times and he's one of those rare players who seems to have an extra large presence when he steps onto the green carpet. He capped his performance by scoring a breakaway goal to make it 14-5.

While the big first-year scorers, guys like Philadelphia's Kevin Crowley and Colorado's Adam Jones will get most of the attention in the coming weeks, keep an eye on MacIntosh's emergence as a strong rookie-of-the-year candidate.

Campbell the Instigator?

It's unusual to see a goalie in the penalty box, which made what happened Saturday extremely unusual: two goalies in sin bins on the same night. While Thompson cooled his heels in St. Paul, up in Calgary we saw Toronto's starting goalie Pat Campbell fighting with the Roughnecks' Geoff Snider in the fifth minute and being ordered to the penalty box.

Campbell was subsequently ejected upon being labelled the instigator. Rock coach Troy Cordingley was livid, and rightly so. How is Campbell the instigator when Snider is the first player to drop the stick and gloves? Snider was in hot pursuit of a sparring partner before Campbell left his crease to go to the aid of his teammates.

Roik to the Rescue

Matt Roik took over from Campbell and put forth another top-notch effort to enable the Rock to emerge victorious. He had the welts to show for it after being slammed to the floor by a Calgary player invading his crease. He was asked about the hit afterwards.

''It's a physical game,'' he replied. ''If you don't like it, take up the sport of knitting.''

Woozy Feeling

Colorado rookie forward Jamie Lincoln was feeling sick before his team's home game Saturday. Then he went out and scored three goals to help the Mammoth beat Rochester 14-11.

''It seems like most times when people are sick and are not feeling well they have really good games and that is what I was hoping for,'' Lincoln was quoted as saying on the team's website. ''It is hard to worry about a stomach ache when you have a lot of fans in the building.''

Woods Loves Alberta

Cam Woods rarely scores but, when he does, he prefers Alberta.

A low shot by the Toronto defenseman from the front edge of the crease that eluded goaltender Mike Poulin at 1:05 of overtime in Calgary gave the Rock a 14-13 victory over the Roughnecks last Saturday.

It was the first goal this year for Woods, who didn't score at all in 2011.

''It was worth the wait,'' said the 35-year-old defender.

After a 0-2 start, a pair of come-from-behind wins have evened Toronto's record at 2-2.

''We weren't doubting ourselves,'' Woods said during a post-game TSN interview. ''We know what we've got in our dressing room.''

Woods scored his previous goal on Feb. 21, 2010, during a 14-13 Toronto loss in Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta.

Rock and Wings Collide

It's a big divisional matchup: Toronto at Philadelphia on Saturday night. Both teams have won two in a row.

''We're really excited to play the champs from last year,'' Wings GM Johnny Mouradian said. ''We're playing at a level where we're dangerous. We're ready for the challenge. Our locker room is a special place to be right now.''

Rock captain Colin Doyle, who pulled a hamstring early the home win over Rochester last Friday and missed the win the next night in Calgary, won't play in Philadelphia this weekend, GM Terry Sanderson said during the coaches' conference call. To make matters worse, defenseman Stephen Hoar is a doubtful starter, Sanderson added.

Garrett Billings has impressed in Doyle's absence.

''He's put the club on his shoulders so to speak,'' Sanderson said. ''He has such a game sense and he's starting to do the gritty things that make a team successful. We'd be in a lot of trouble right now if we didn't have Garrett Billings.''

Sealth Slump

Washington is 0-3 and Buffalo has lost two in a row to slip to 2-2, and they square off in Buffalo on Saturday night. Well, at least one team's slump will end.

''It's not panic time by any means,'' offers Stealth coach Art Webster. ''We're 0-3 right now and hungry for a win.

''We're not going to pull the drain plug. We'll refocus . . . and get ready to play.''

As for the drubbing the Bandits just took in Minnesota, associate general manager Derek Graham had this to say: ''Saturday was an absolute debacle for us.''

But tomorrow is a new day.

''We believe in our coaching staff and we believe in the players we brought in,'' added Graham. ''We're the Buffalo Bandits and going to come out and prove to our fans that we're going to compete.''

Swarm Needs Focus Versus Knighthawks

Minnesota, 1-1, hopes to build on the momentum it gained from its home opener when it takes to the floor in Rochester on Saturday night. The Knighthawks won their season opener but have slipped to 1-3 so are looking to rebound.

Mental lapses have hurt his team, says 'Hawks coach Mike Hasen.

''It's a lot of little things that guys take for granted at certain stages of games and they come back to bite us,'' Hasen said.

Home No Advantage So Far

Visiting teams are up 9-6 in the 15 games played to date.

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