February 22, 2012

NLL Notebook: Dawson Joins 800 Point Club

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

Dan Dawson was named the NLL's offensive player of the week for the second straight time on Wednesday. He reached the 800 point mark for his career on Saturday.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Dan Dawson needed only one point to join the National Lacrosse League's 800 Point Club but that wasn't much of a challenge at all for the prolific Philadelphia Wings scorer so he went out and got 10.

Dawson's three goals and seven assists in a 14-8 win in Toronto last Saturday night upped his career total to 809 points and made him the eighth player in league history to bash the barrier.

''I'm just lucky to have played in this league for 11 years now but, you know what, I'm more worried about the wins,'' Dawson said afterwards. ''It's just a testament to the people you're surrounded by.''

The NLL named Dawson its offensive player of the week for the second week in a row on Wednesday. He's the first player with consecutive 10-point games since Tracey Kelusky did it in 2001.

The 800 Point Club now looks like this: 1. John Tavares 1,581; 2. Gary Gait 1,165; 3. Colin Doyle 1,128; 4. Josh Sanderson 1,048; 5. John Grant 1,029; 6. Shawn Williams 990; 7. Gavin Prout 830; 8. Dan Dawson 809.

Toronto's Blaine Manning would have a membership card by now had he not broken a collarbone last month. He's stuck at 798. Washington's Lewis Ratcliff moved into the top 10 last weekend when he increased his career total to 775.

Dawson, 30, a firefighter in the Toronto burbs of Brampton on weekdays, previously wore the sweaters of the Columbus Landsharks, Arizona Sting, Portland LumberJax and Boston Blazers. All four teams disappeared. He's kidded about it sometimes.

Dawson has received many all-pro and scoring accolades but he deflects praise.

''Need a championship,'' he'll say.

It's a burning desire. He's been close. Arizona got to the title game in 2005 but lost in Toronto. Arizona was back in the final in 2007 but lost at home to Rochester. Portland made it in 2008 and lost in Buffalo - a 14-13 squeaker Dawson can never forget.

Mundorf Breaks Loose

Brendan Mundorf had the answer.

Every time the Rock scored, the Wings replied with one or more of their own, and Mundorf's five-goal binge was a key factor in the win in Toronto.

''One thing we talked about was answering,'' explained the 27-year-old forward from Baltimore. ''Every time they'd score one, we'd preach 'answer' on the bench.

''That's what we ended up doing. It's a game of runs and we didn't want to let them go on a run. They'd score then we'd get one right back. That stopped their momentum.''

With righties Dawson and Kevin Crowley drawing so much attention from defensemen and goalie Matt Roik, Mundorf was able to lay low to the left of Roik until the ball was in his stick for quick shots into the net's short side. Crowley, who had three goals and five assists against the Rock, is the NLL's rookie of the week.

Wings Have Winning Feeling

GM-coach Johnny Mouradian was confident when he inserted Dawson, Crowley and Brodie Merrill into the lineup that the potential was in place for big things, and moving alone into first place in the NLL East on Saturday justified his faith.

''I felt at the beginning of the year that we had a championship group of guys,'' Mouradian said. ''I've been involved with a lot of championship locker rooms and I told these guys at the beginning, 'I feel it.'

''That's very important. You have to have the right feeling and the right attitude, and we've got the right feeling and the right attitude right now.''

Rock Injuries Piling Up

With Rob Marshall already out with a broken foot, Toronto couldn't afford to lose more regulars on the back end. So, what happens? Pat Merrill and Phil Sanderson get hurt during the loss to Philadelphia. Merrill has what the club calls a ''lower body injury'' and Sanderson has a ''jammed neck'' and coach Troy Cordingley said neither will play this weekend.

Winning One For 'The Five'

With the Rochester Five suspended last Saturday, their Knighthawks teammates rallied with five unanswered goals in the last six minutes to defeat the visiting Washington Stealth, 15-12.

Cody Jamieson, Jordan Hall, Sid Smith, Travis Hill and Tyler Burton were suspended by the league after police laid charges against them resulting from a brawl in a Minnesota restaurant the previous Sunday night after a loss to the Swarm.

Fortunately for head coach Mike Hasen, Craig Point and Ryan Cousins were available to play their first games this year and came through with stellar efforts in shoring up the lineup. Point scored three goals.

''That win was for the boys,'' captain Pat McCready told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. ''There's been a lot of negative media but there's a thing called due process -- innocent until proven guilty -- and the media has heard only one side of the story.

''The boys were victims. There was a brawl, the injuries they sustained were horrible, and I don't like the light that has been put on them.''

McCready is the NLL's defensive player of the week for his checking, three goals, one assist and seven loose balls in the win over the Stealth.

The NLL announced Wednesday that it has reinstated the five 'Hawks.

Talking About Comebacks

John Grant Jr. continues to lead Colorado's potent attack. The Mammoth are 6-0.
© Michael Martin/Colorado Mammoth

How about Colorado's 6-1 fourth quarter in Minnesota!

It was a 12-7 final to keep the Mammoth, 6-0, undefeated. Colorado was outshot 47-38 but Chris Levis was at his best in the nets and league scoring leader John Grant Jr. again piled up the points.

Colorado also is getting A-plus efforts from its supporting cast. Cam Holding of Whitby, Ontario, via Michigan's Grand Valley State University scored his first NLL goal against the Swarm.

Grant is within eight goals of becoming the third player in pro indoor history with 500. Buffalo's John Tavares has 739, Hall of Famer Gary Gait scored 635 and Grant has 492. Next in line is Toronto's Colin Doyle with 437.

Led by Grant, Colorado is No. 1 offensively.

Here are the goals-per-game rankings: 1. Colorado 13.8; 2. Rochester 12.8; 3. Calgary 12.3; 4. Minnesota 12.2; 5. Buffalo 11.7; 6. Philadelphia 11.5; 7. Toronto 11.5; 8. Edmonton 10.4; 9. Washington 9.7.

Four Games Friday

Rochester (3-4) at Toronto (3-3)

''We've got to be hungry,'' Cordingley said of the Rock. ''I thought we lacked that last weekend.''

It's a war every weekend between four evenly-matched East Division teams.

''I wouldn't be surprised if somebody won the East with a 9-7 record,'' Cordingley said.

NLL Hall of Fame goaltender Bob Watson and his family will be on the floor for a pre-game ceremony during which his No. 29 will be raised high above the Air Canada Centre floor.

''His loyalty to the franchise and his teammates has been unwavering and he embodies everything it is to be a member of the Toronto Rock,'' owner Jamie Dawick said. ''The retirement of a player's number is not something we're going to throw around lightly and number 29 is the best place to start. This cements his legacy with the franchise.''

Rochester has some roster decisions to make given the reinstatements mentioned above.

Phiadelphia (4-2) at Edmonton (1-4)

Brodie Merrill plays his first game in Edmonton since his off-season trade to the Wings.

''He's a major factor with that team as he was with us in Edmonton,'' said Rush GM-coach Derek Keenan. ''They're playing extremely good lacrosse so it's going to be a big challenge for us.''

Keenan's crew went 1-3 in four in a row on the road and now plays seven of the last 11 at home.

''We'll go forward with a positive approach and aim to get some wins at home,'' said Keenan.

Wings offensive coach Jim Milligan said winning in Toronto last Saturday was a huge lift.

''It seems we're getting on a bit of a roll,'' Milligan said.

Calgary (4-2) at Colorado (6-0)

''We always have great battles with Calgary,'' said Colorado coach Bob Hamley. ''We know they'll be ready for us.''

The league's only undefeated team has no worries.

''There's no pressure at all,'' said Hamley.

Roughnecks coach Dave Pym is much happier now that his team has won two in a row.

''It's not a full-out sprint but a gradual push,'' Pym said of the surge. ''Now we're going down to play the Mammoth in their barn. It's a phenomenal atmosphere to play in and we've been able to rise to the occasion down there. It's an unbelievable rivalry that's developed over the years.''

Calgary's Geoff Snider is transition player of the week for his goal, two assists, 20 loose balls and 18-for-23 faceoff proficiency in the win over the Rush.

Minnesota (3-3) at Washington (1-5)

Allowing five straight goals in blowing a 12-10 lead with six minutes left last Saturday has to be demoralizing for the Stealth.

Head coach Chris Hall, having completed treatments for a throat cancer, is expected to be behind the Stealth bench for the first time this season so maybe that'll help turn things around for a team that is better than its record suggests.

''I'm pretty excited,'' Hall said during the league's weekly conference call with the head coaches Wednesday. ''I'm feeling strong. It's been more than four weeks since my treatments finished. I've been concentrating on nutrition, getting my weight back up and regaining my strength.''

The 1-5 record is a big hole.

''We've just failed to close,'' said Hall. ''Our lacrosse intelligence hasn't been very good in the last 10 minutes of games. We've got to have much better focus in the last 10 minutes of games.''

Athan Iannucci didn't get in a practice before chipping in with one goal in his debut with the Stealth.

''I thought he added some real energy to the offense,'' said Hall. ''With a practise under his belt, I expect Athan to get untracked and have some really big games.''

As Hall returns, the Swarm decided to make a coaching change. The team announced Wednesday that Joe Sullivan will replace Mike Lines as coach.

Before that announcement was made, Lines had said of the game against the Stealth, ''We expect a close battle every time we play them. They've had a lot of close games and could be sitting at 4-2 just as easily as being 1-5.''

All-Star Saturday

Game time is 7 p.m. ET in Buffalo's First Niagara Center. Doors open at 4:00 p.m. for Fan Fest, which will be free for fans with game tickets and will include autograph sessions with players.

Rhys Duch, Chris Corbeil and Colin Doyle have pulled out citing injury concerns. Replacing them are Lewis Ratcliff, Matt Beers and Scott Self.

With the suspensions of the Rochester Five lifted, Jamieson can play in the all-star game.

Paul Rabil, who hadn't reported to Edmonton following his trade from Washington, remains in the West all-star lineup. Whether or not he represents the Rush or another team will depend on developments.

''It's a lot of fun to coach these games,'' Cordingley, who'll coach the East, said during the coaches' conference call. ''There's no stress and it's nice to have the best seat in the house.''

Hall will coach the West and admits it's an easy assignment.

''It's just kind of a matter of opening the gate and letting another five guys go out to showcase their talents,'' said Hall. ''Part of the pleasure for me will be getting to meet players I haven't had the opportunity to coach. I've always found that to be a real rewarding experience in coaching an all-star game.''

Neil Stevens has covered pro and Canadian lacrosse since 1971. He and the late Tom Borrelli -- a longtime Lacrosse Magazine contributor -- are the only media members recognized by the NLL Hall of Fame.

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