March 27, 2013

Dineley Will Make First Start in Goal for Philadelphia

by Neil Stevens |

With Brandon Miller sideline with a one-game suspension, Angus Dineley, who has never faced a regular-season NLL shot, will start for Philadelphia on Friday in Minnesota.
© Wings

Philadelphia plays a crucial NLL game in Minnesota on Friday night with No. 1 goalie Brandon Miller under suspension so the Wings will start Angus Dineley, who has never faced a shot in a regular-season NLL game.

''I'm very excited,'' Dineley said. ''It's something I've been working towards. The way the suspension worked out, this opportunity arose and I'm excited to get a shot to play at the highest level.''

Dineley, 28, was playing for the Toronto team in the Canadian Lacrosse League this winter before joining the Wings on March 15 after they released Kevin Croswell. He dressed as the backup to Miller in the Wings' last game. He was never drafted by any NLL team coming out of Canisius College. He attended a few NLL camps along the way, got into an exhibition game or two briefly, and was a third-stringer with Orlando in 2009. He's played Sr. B ball in Ontario during his summers and played well in eight CLax games this winter.

Dineley looked good in two Wings practices last week and confirmed in an interview that GM-coach John Mouradian has advised him to prepare to be the team's starting goalie on Friday.

''It was a great experience to be playing with guys in our lineup who are so skilled,'' said Dineley. ''I was feeling pretty confident by the end of the last practice. It's a big weekend for the team. I'll follow B Miller's lead. He's a good guy to watch — the way he approaches things so professionally.''

His biggest adjustment is working in front of NLL nets that are three inches wider than CLax nets.

''It's a matter of adjusting the angles and getting familiar with how you react to the ball,'' he said. ''Nothing huge, just little adjustments.''

Dineley is a teacher at Toronto's St. Michael's College, a private school where he coaches lacrosse players in the 15 to 18 age group. Word has been spreading on campus that he's getting an NLL start.

''A few have come up to me and wished me well,'' he said. ''Right now we're focusing on the start of our [St. Mike's] season so it's all lacrosse all the time.''

The Wings recently acquired the rights to Mike Thompson, who was among the league's best with the Buffalo Bandits before retiring last year with a damaged knee, but as of Wednesday nothing had been worked out to sign him and get him onto the Wings' active roster in time for the game in St. Paul. The question left to be answered is: Who will be the backup goalie?

Mouradian was working towards an answer. If it is not Thompson, the league could grant him a hardship provision that would allow him to bring in any goalie he could find to dress for one game. If he doesn't get that go-ahead, he'd have to ask one of his runners to don goalie gear.

Dineley was the third goalie on Canada's team that won silver at the 2010 world field lacrosse championship. Mouradian was the GM so he's well aware of how dedicated Dineley is to the sport and how hard he has worked to be in position to earn this chance.

Miller's suspension for being the third man in a fight in a game against Washington earlier this month was for one game so he will be available in Denver where the Wings play the Mammoth on Saturday night.

Grant about to pass Gait

Colorado star John Grant Jr. needs only three more points to move ahead of Gary Gait into third place on the all-time points list and he should get them Saturday night.

The Top 12: 1. John Tavares, Buffalo, 1,657; 2. Colin Doyle, Toronto, 1,246; 3. Gary Gait, retired, 1,165; 4. John Grant Jr., Colorado, 1,163; 5. Josh Sanderson, Toronto, 1,130; 6. Shawn Williams, Buffalo, 1,090; 7. Gavin Prout, Colorado, 920; 8. Dan Dawson, Rochester, 914; 9. Lewis Ratcliff, Washington, 869; 10. Blaine Manning, Toronto, 827; 11. Mike Accursi, Rochester, 799; 12. Tracey Kelusky, Buffalo, 776.

Toole time in Rochester

The Knighthawks will make former goalie and current assistant coach Pat O'Toole the 11th member of their Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony Saturday. He joins Duane Jacobs, Paul Gait, Tim Soudan, Regy Thorpe, Pat Cougevan, Jody Gage, Paul Day, Jeremy Hollenbeck, Mike Hasen and Randy Mearns.

''Patty was the backbone of our team for a long time,'' said former teammate and current head coach Mike Hasen.

O'Toole, 41, a Rochester fixture from 1999 to 2010, is the franchise's all-time leader in regular-season wins (102) and saves (5,756). He holds the NLL record for goals by a goaltender (3).

''He was a great floor general,'' said forward Mike Accursi. ''He's a champion and I'm sure wherever his coaching career takes him he's going to be a winner.''

Bandits hit the road

Buffalo plays its next three games on the road, which may be a good thing for the Bandits because they have lost their last five at home to drop to 2-5 at First Niagara Center while they are 3-2 in away games.

The 5-7 Bandits, who have lost their last four, are at Toronto this Friday, in Minnesota on April 6 and in Washington on April 13 before finishing up at home against Rochester on April 20. They'll probably need at least one more win to qualify for the playoffs.

Rush records fall

With his two goaltending wins last weekend, Edmonton's Aaron Bold has tied the club record for most wins in a season, 12, by Matt Disher in 2010.

Rush rookie Mark Matthews needs three to break Chris Gill's 2007 club record of 37 goals in a season.

Crowd counts last weekend

A season-best crowd of 16,629 in Buffalo watched the Bandits fall 14-7 to Edmonton. The Rush carried on to Toronto where 9,947 saw them beat the Rock 17-12. The only crowd to see the home team win was in Calgary where 9,493 showed up for a thrilling 12-11 overtime win over Colorado.

Evans still leads scoring race

Calgary's Shawn Evans remains first in the scoring race with 82 points (26 goals and 56 assists) in 12 games. He's piling up nearly seven points a game and at this pace he'll fall about seven points shy of the single-season record of 116 set by Grant last spring. But a couple of 10-pointers in the next three weeks could put him over the top.

''There's not many guys who want to win as badly as Shawnie and that's contagious,'' said Roughnecks coach Curt Malawsky.

Toronto's Garrett Billings has the best shot at overtaking Evans as he's second in the scoring race with 79 points (24-55) in 12 games.

Mammoth bolster defense

Colorado has activated defenseman Ian Hawksbee and signed defenseman John Orsen. The two had been on the holdout list since Dec. 20. Orsen is an assistant coach for the Marquette University men's lacrosse team.

''Hawksbee and Orsen were with us last year when we went 11-5 and hosted a playoff game," said head coach Bob Hamley. ''They bring experience and are big left-handed defensemen that know our systems and are familiar with the staff and most of our players.''

Beirnes steady as always

Toronto forward Kasey Beirnes has added a 10th season of 20 or more goals to stats sheets chronicling his 12-year NLL career. The career-best year for the 32-year-old native of Elora, Ontario, in terms of goals scored, was 2004 when he netted 33. He has 22 so far this winter.

''He's such a quiet player,'' said GM Terry Sanderson. ''He does a lot of little things that go unnoticed and when you're unnoticed you get open. He has a knack for finishing. Kasey is as big a part of our offense as anyone. He's a very dependable guy. You know he's going to find the back of the net once or twice every game.''

Teammate Blaine Manning is a right-hand shot as is Beirnes so they've worked on the same side of NLL floors for many year.

''He's one of the best players I've ever seen at crashing the net,'' said Manning. ''It's really valuable to have guys who can contribute on the scoresheet without having the ball in their stick, too. I've been fortunate to play alongside him and I'm a better player for it. He's a great guy, too.''

Rock regroup

A stated goal all season long for the Toronto Rock has been finishing first overall to get home floor throughout the playoffs. That looked highly probably well into the second half of the season. Now, after being trounced by Edmonton, coach Troy Cordingley's crew is clinging to top spot by the skin of its teeth. Edmonton, Calgary and Washington are right behind the Rock in the overall standings.

This weekend should tell the tale: Toronto plays at home Friday against Buffalo and is at Rochester on Saturday night. Anything less than a weekend sweep puts the ultimate goal in jeopardy.

Toronto finishes its schedule at home against Rochester on April 7 and at Philadelphia on April 13.

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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