February 20, 2013

NLL Notebook: Snider's Penalty Filled Weekend

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

Calgary faceoff specialist Geoff Snider is now second all-time in NLL penalty minutes after racking up 47 so far this season.
© Brad Watson/Calgary Roughnecks

It's not often that an National Lacrosse League player gets kicked out of two games in 24 hours but Geoff Snider managed it with gusto last weekend.

Calgary's faceoff specialist began his mission of mayhem with the Roughnecks trailing the Rock by four goals in the sixth minute of the third quarter in Toronto on Friday. There was plenty of time left to close the gap but Snider negated that possibility when he dropped his gloves and started punching one of his least favorite human beings, Scott Evans, who declined to fight.

Snider was assessed an instigating minor, fighting major and game misconduct. Evans was not penalized. Toronto got a seven-minute manpower advantage during which it scored three goals to pull ahead 14-7. The final score was 17-12. Undisciplined Calgary play enabled Toronto to score nine power-play goals in the showdown of division leaders.

Fast forward to St. Paul. Snider was pummeled by Minnesota Swarm captain Andrew Suitor five minutes into the game in the most vicious fight in the NLL this year. Both players got major penalties and remained in the game.

Early in the fourth quarter, after the Swarm fought back from an 8-3 deficit to tie it 13-13, Snider was assessed a major elbowing penalty for leveling an unsuspecting Tyler Hass near the side boards. Since it was his second major of the night, he was automatically ejected. The Roughnecks escaped with a 17-16 win thanks to Curtis Dickson's three short-handed goals in the last nine minutes.

Snider's pile of new penalty minutes gave him a league-high 47, which bumped him up to second all-time. The most penalized players in pro indoor history: 1. Kyle Laverty, 625 minutes; 2. Geoff Snider, 473; 3. Pat McCready, 468; 4. Billy Dee Smith, 442; 5. Pat Merrill, 437; 6. Dan Ladouceur, 428.

Rock Rollin'

Toronto completed the first half of its schedule with the league's best record, 6-2, and gets a timely break with a bye this weekend. Winning both of its games against Calgary this year means its chances of finishing first overall and earning home-floor advantage throughout the playoffs are greatly enhanced.

''That could turn out to be a big win down the road,'' Rock defenseman Jesse Gamble said after a 17-12 triumph over the Roughnecks last Friday night. ''It's probably one of our biggest games this year so far.''

Beer bath irked 'Necks

In a pre-game ceremony in Air Canada Centre last Friday night, several members of the Canadian Football League-champion Toronto Argonauts walked onto the green carpet to show off the Grey Cup they won last November.

After a ceremonial faceoff and, as the group was breaking up, Adriano Belli, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound defensive tackle, offered Andrew McBride a sip of beer from the silver trophy. Calgary's captain declined, at which point Belli raised the trophy and poured beer over McBride's head. Belli got a big laugh out of his antics but the 'Necks were steamed.

''We didn't really appreciate that,'' defenseman Scott Carnegie said when asked about the incident Wednesday.

It did not have any bearing on the outcome, he said. Still, it stung the team's collective pride.

''Doing that to a fellow athlete, we thought that was unprofessional,'' Carnegie said.

Scoring race update

Calgary's Shawn Evans, who had a club-record nine assists against Minnesota on Saturday, leads the league in assists (36) and points (54).

Toronto's Garrett Billings, coming off a 10-point effort — six goals and four assists — against Calgary last Friday, is second in points with 50.

''It's not often the ball jumps in the net for you so anytime you have a night like that you've got to be happy,'' said Billings.

Rock captain Colin Doyle is third in points with 43.

Edmonton rookie sensation Mark Matthews leads all goal scorers with 23 after his 11-goal weekend barrage.

''We don't want him to try and take it upon himself to win games for us because I think we've got a good group of guys and we want to share the offense but he's a big-game player,'' says GM-coach Derek Keenan.

Vinc has best save percentage

Rochester is below .500 at 3-4 but don't blame goalie Matt Vinc.

Save percentages for goalies who have played a minimum of 200 minutes: 1. Matt Vinc, Rochester, .811; 2. Nick Rose, Toronto, .800; 3. Tyler Richards, Washington, .796; 4. Brandon Miller, Philadelphia, .770; 5. Aaron Bold, Edmonton, .755; 6. Anthony Cosmo, Buffalo, .753; 7. Mike Poulin, Calgary, .752; 8. Tyler Carlson, Minnesota, .747; 9. Matt Roik, Colorado, .729.

Cosmo made 54 saves to help Buffalo beat Rochester 10-6 despite being outshot 60-51.

''When you've got confidence and things are going your way, everything becomes big and [seems to be] in slow motion,'' he told Travis Larner, the Knighthawks' beat writer for NLL.com, after his stellar performance.

Dawson gets 900th point

Dan Dawson's goal during the fourth quarter of a 10-6 loss to Buffalo last Saturday night upped the Rochester forward's career points total to 900.

The all-time Top 10: 1. John Tavares, Buffalo, 1,641; 2. Colin Doyle, Toronto, 1,221; 3. Gary Gait, retired, 1,165; 4. John Grant Jr., Colorado, 1,127; 5. Josh Sanderson, Toronto, 1,113; 6. Shawn Williams, Buffalo, 1,070; 7. Gavin Prout, Colorado, 908; 8. Dan Dawson, Rochester, 900; 9. Lewis Ratcliff, Washington, 850; 10. Blaine Manning, Toronto, 817.

Accursi nears 800

Rochester's Mike Accursi needs five points to become the 11th player in the 800-point club.

Tavares still out

All-time leading scorer John Tavares has missed the last three Bandits games with a calf muscle problem that bothered him last year, too. The end of an exceptional career is fast approaching. Whether he's on the floor or behind the bench, Tavares is sure to remain a Bandits fixture.

Rubisch continues to impress

Kyle Rubisch of the Edmonton Rush won the NLL award for top defenseman last year and he's a strong contender again this season.

''He's a different breed,'' says GM-coach Derek Keenan. ''He just seems to be able to pounce on people. He closes gaps so quickly. He has the ability to get in on guys' hands. He's smart, too. He creates a lot of turnovers. He's a beast on loose balls.''

Rock sign Vyse

Toronto has added some depth up front by signing Roger Vyse.

Vyse, 31, played seven NLL seasons and scored 48 goals for Buffalo three years ago but was released just before the start of the 2013 campaign. He's been playing in the Canadian Lacrosse League this winter with a team in Ohsweken, Ont., and after six games was the CLL's leading scorer with 15 goals and 29 assists for 44 points. He's on Toronto's practice unit with Brendan Thenhaus and Brad Kri.

Coincidentally, the Bandits signed free-agent defenseman Drew Petkoff and placed him on injured reserve. Petkoff hasn't played since early last year when he was with the Rock.

Week 7 attendance

Biggest crowd last weekend was in Denver where 17,059 turned out for Military Appreciation Night and saw Edmonton run away with a 14-7 victory over the Mammoth.

Elsewhere: 10,026 in Toronto for the 17-12 Rock win over Calgary; 9,156 in Rochester where Buffalo downed the Knighthawks 10-6; 8,254 in St. Paul for Calgary's 17-16 win over Minnesota; and 5,627 in Edmonton where the Rush downed Washington 15-10.

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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