March 14, 2013

NLL Notebook: Adding Powell Gives Mammoth a Lift

Also, in quirky deadline deal, Buffalo GM Dietrich trades for himself

by Neil Stevens |

Casey Powell will debut in new colors when the Colorado Mammoth host Buffalo on Saturday night.
© Larry Palumbo/Rochester Knighthawks

Casey Powell hasn't been putting up the numbers he did in the past but his presence should give the Colorado Mammoth a big lift as they push for an NLL playoff berth.

Powell was acquired on the eve of the 5 p.m. ET Wednesday trading deadline from the Rochester Knighthawks for defenseman Jon Sullivan and a third-round 2014 draft pick.

''I'm excited to fit into the offense and work with Gavin [Prout], [John Grant] Junior and the rest of the boys,'' Powell said. ''It has always been my dream to play in Denver and in front of the best fans in lacrosse.''

Powell had appeared in seven of nine 'Hawks games and had scored eight goals and assisted on 14 in a comeback campaign after sitting out the 2012 NLL season. That's a far cry from his 44-goal MVP season of 2010 but Powell is the all-time leading American scorer in the indoor pro league and is one of the sport's most respected athletes. He was MVP of the world tournament in Prague in 2011.

Powell, 37, will make his debut with his new team at home against Buffalo on Saturday night.

''I'm pumped up for Saturday night,'' Powell told

Colorado, 3-7, beat the Bandits 12-6 in Buffalo last Saturday. Powell will be reunited with Ed Comeau, the Mammoth assistant coach who was head coach when Powell was on teams in New York and Orlando.

''Casey is a dynamic player who is able to score from outside and inside,'' said Comeau. ''He is also a great passer who sees the floor very well. We expect Casey to integrate well into our offense and add another scoring threat on the floor.''

Rochester, 4-5, will use Sullivan, 30, to bolster a defense that has been the stingiest in the NLL this year.

''He is a veteran player and that makes a difference,'' said owner-GM Curt Styres. ''Sullivan is the type of player that will check you, take the ball from you and score.''

Sullivan said he was shocked when told he'd been traded.

''I had no idea it was coming,'' he said.

He's already turned that page.

''I will be leaving a great group of guys and a great organization and going to another great group and organization in Rochester so I am pretty excited. Being a fly-in guy [with Colorado], this will be an easier role for my family and work as well.''

The native of St. Catharines, Ontario, which is a 90-minute drive from Rochester, is familiar with many of the Knighthawks through Six Nations summer ball.

''I'm coming into an already deep defense with arguably the best goalie in the league, which will make playing D with the Knighthawks a real privilege. I have had the pleasure of playing with most of those guys already, which will make my transition into the D scheme easier.''

Dietrich lands Dietrich in trade

The quirkiest trade deadline deal Wednesday saw Buffalo GM Steve Dietrich trade for himself.

The retired NLL Hall of Fame goalie last played for the Toronto Rock so his rights had remained with them. He now has obtained those rights in exchange for a sixth-round 2015 entry draft pick. The move gives the Bandits an emergency fill-in should one of the two goalies on their active roster suffer a season-ending injury after the Friday roster freeze.

Self brothers reunited

The Knighthawks further beefed up their back end by getting defensemen Scott Self and Jimmy Purves from Buffalo just before Wednesday's trading deadline. The Bandits got forward Kedoh Hill for Self and a second-round 2013 draft pick for Purves.

Scott Self, 33, joins brother Brad Self, 31, giving Rochester the most impressive — on paper at least — defense corps in the NLL.

Ratcliff seventh player with 400 goals

Lewis Ratcliff of the Washington Stealth, suspended on Wednesday for two years from Canadian-sanctioned national and international competition for doping, has joined the NLL's exclusive 400 Goal Club.

Ratcliff took an overhand shot that sent a ball bouncing past Philadelphia goalie Brandon Miller at 12:02 of the second quarter last Saturday night. It was Ratcliff's third goal of the game and he'd finish with four to help the Stealth down the Wings 16-10.

Ratcliff is the seventh man to reach 400.

The top 10: 1. John Tavares, Buffalo, 773; 2. Gary Gait, retired, 635; 3. John Grant Jr., Colorado, 548; 4. Colin Doyle, Toronto, 474; 5. Shawn Williams, Buffalo, 424; 6. Paul Gait, retired, 410; 7. Lewis Ratcliff, Washington, 401; 8. Tom Marechek, retired, 399; 9. Josh Sanderson, Toronto, 386; 10. Mike Accursi, Rochester, 375.

Ratcliff, 31, was in the news again this week when the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport announced that he has been dealt a two-year sanction for an anti-doping rule violation resulting from analysis of a urine sample taken last September. The NLL then issued a news release saying the CCES measure has no bearing on Ratcliff's NLL status.

Duch leads all goal scorers

The five-goal game by Washington's Rhys Duch in Philadelphia last Saturday boosted his season's total to a league-best 31.

There are 12 players with 20 or more goals: 1. Rhys Duch, Washington, 31; 2. Dane Dobbie, Calgary, 30; 3. John Grant Jr., Colorado, 29; 4. Mark Matthews, Edmonton, 28; 5. Curtis Dickson, Calgary, 27; 6. Shawn Evans and Jeff Shattler, Calgary, 23; 8. Ryan Benesch, Minnesota, 22; 9. Lewis Ratcliff and Athan Iannuccci, Washington; 11. Garrett Billings, Toronto, and Adam Jones, Colorado, 20.

Grant closing in on Gait

John Grant Jr. is within 17 points of bumping Gary Gait out of third place on the all-time points list.

The top 10: 1. John Tavares, Buffalo, 1,650; 2. Colin Doyle, Toronto, 1,233; 3. Gary Gait, retired, 1,165; 4. Grant, 1,149; 5. Josh Sanderson, Toronto, 1,124; 6. Shawn Williams, Buffalo, 1,085; 7. Gavin Prout, Colorado, 920; 8. Dan Dawson, Rochester, 909; 9. Lewis Ratcliff, Washington, 867; 10. Blaine Manning, Toronto, 824.

Counting crowds

Largest crowd last weekend was in Buffalo where 16,428 watched the Bandits jump to a 3-0 lead only to lose 12-6 to Colorado. It was their fourth straight home loss. They haven't won in First Niagara Center since edging Philadelphia 14-13 back on Jan. 26.

There were 10,823 in Toronto to watch the Rock beat Colorado 14-10 at Air Canada Centre and 8,622 in Calgary to see the Roughnecks beat Minnesota 19-15 at Scotiabank Saddledome. Attendance for Philadelphia's home loss to Washington at Wells Fargo Center was 7,661.

Who will miss playoffs?

Colorado and Minnesota have league-worst 3-7 records so one of them is likely to be the only team of the nine that misses the playoffs.

Colorado plays Buffalo, Calgary, Philadelphia and Edmonton, while Minnesota plays Washington, Buffalo and Philadelphia twice before the two last-place teams decide things in a home-and-home set — April 13 in Denver and April 20 in St. Paul — to conclude their 16-game schedules.

Colorado beat Minnesota 15-9 back on Feb. 2 so would possess the standings tiebreaker with a win in either of its April showdowns with the Swarm.

Gillam returns to swarm

Minnesota has added forward Josh Gillam now that he's finished his pro hockey season. The 24-year-old native of Peterborough, Ontario, got into six games with the Swarm after returning from Europe last year.

''He's coming in with a ton of energy and a real enthusiasm to get playing,'' said coach Joe Sullivan. ''We think he just scratched the surface of his ability last year and we're looking for him to have an immediate impact with us this season.''

Joel Henry gets bumped off the active roster.

Rock raise $41,000 for food bank

Toronto's Daily Bread Food Bank is receiving $41,000 from the Toronto Rock from a fundraising effort that began Feb. 28 with the launch of an online auction of autographed sweaters and concluded with an auction of game-worn jerseys after last Friday's home win over Colorado. Captain Colin Doyle's 7 went for $1,400 and the whole batch brought in $15,000. As well, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the owners of the Air Canada Centre where the Rock play, chipped in more than $10,000 at $1 for every ticket sold. That brought the total to $31,000. Rock owner Jamie Dawick then kicked in a personal check for $10,000.

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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