February 6, 2012

Starters Announced for NLL All-Star Game

from press releases

NLL Rookie of the Month for January, Adam Jones, was one of a league-high four Mammoth players voted All-Star Game starters.
© Michael Martin/Mammoth

The National Lacrosse League has announced the starting lineups for the 2012 NLL All-Star Game, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo on Saturday, February 25. The East and West All-Star team starting lineups were selected by a vote of NLL fans, the league's general managers and head coaches, as well as members of the media.

Starting Lineup, West All-Stars:
Forward - John Grant Jr. (Colorado Mammoth)
Forward - Adam Jones (Colorado Mammoth)
Transition - Andrew Suitor (Minnesota Swarm)
Defenseman - Rory Smith (Colorado Mammoth)
Defenseman - Kyle Rubisch (Edmonton Rush)
Goaltender - Chris Levis (Colorado Mammoth)

The Colorado Mammoth dominated the West vote, landing four of the six spots in the starting lineup. January Player of the Month John Grant Jr. and Rookie of the Month Adam Jones were selected as the starting forwards. This will be the eighth career All-Star selection for Grant, and the second for goaltender Chris Levis. Rounding out the Mammoth quartet is defenseman Rory Smith, earning his first All-Star selection.

"I'm so incredibly proud of our team, and am overjoyed for Rory, Adam, Chris and John," said Mammoth president and general manager Steve Govett. "It's taken Rory five seasons, but finally he's getting the recognition he deserves as an NLL All-Star – and a starter at that."

Smith has recorded 18 loose balls and six forced turnovers through five games this season. He's served as an intimidating force on the back-end for Colorado.

"It just kind of fell in my lap," said Smith, referring to the All-Star honor. "I'm playing the same kind of defense as I did last year."

Levis is tops in the league in wins (five) and second in save percentage (.783).

"It means a lot to be on the floor with [fellow All-Stars]," said Levis. "I had a great time last year. The whole weekend itself was fun. It was great for the fans and I'm really happy to be a part of that again."

Jones is third overall and first among rookies in the league in goals (15). He also leads all rookies in points (26). The 22-year-old returns to western New York, where he played college lacrosse for Canisius, for the All-Star Game.

"I'm pretty excited to get a hold of some of my buddies in Buffalo," said Jones. "I want them to be there [at the game]."

Grant leads the NLL with 19 goals, 26 assists and 45 points.

On pace to shatter the NLL single-season points record, the 37-year-old is the league's reigning Player of the Month.

"It's a thrill to play with all three of those guys (Jones, Levis, and Smith)," said Grant, "and it's nice to go to the All-Star Game when you're having a winning season."

Edmonton Rush defenseman Kyle Rubisch has now made the All-Star team in both of his first two seasons in the league. Minnesota Swarm transition player Andrew Suitor makes his first All-Star team.

Starting Lineups, East All-Stars:
Forward - John Tavares (Buffalo Bandits)
Forward - Cody Jamieson (Rochester Knighthawks)
Transition - Brodie Merrill (Philadelphia Wings)
Defenseman - Billy Dee Smith (Buffalo Bandits)
Defenseman - Pat McCready (Rochester Knighthawks)
Goaltender - Mike Thompson (Buffalo Bandits)

The Buffalo Bandits had three players voted into the starting lineup. Bandits forward John Tavares has been selected to his 10th career All-Star Game, becoming the first player in league history to reach double digits in this category. Fellow Bandits' Billy Dee Smith and Mike Thompson are both first time selections.

A pair of Rochester Knighthawks were selected in Pat McCready & Cody Jamieson. McCready, the league's 2011 Defensive Player of the Year winner, is selected to his third All-Star Game. Jamieson has now been selected in both of his first two NLL seasons. Rounding out the group is Philadelphia Wings transition player Brodie Merrill, who is selected for the sixth time in his career and will play for the East for the first time.

Earlier the league announced that Toronto Rock head coach Troy Cordingley will serve as head coach of the East team, assisted by Buffalo Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour. Washington Stealth head coach Chris Hall will serve as head coach of the West team, assisted by Edmonton Rush head coach Derek Keenan.

The are still 24 more players who will be named to the All-Star teams. The 12 remaining players on each team will be announced later this week.

The 2012 NLL All-Star Game takes place on Saturday, February 25 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, home of the Buffalo Bandits. Gametime is 7pm Eastern.

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