April 4, 2013

NLL Notebook: Grant Moves to Third All-Time in NLL Points

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

John Grant Jr. passed Hall of Famer Gary Gait for third on the all-time NLL points list.
© Larry Palumbo

John Grant Jr. had other things on his mind after moving into third place on the all-time NLL points list ahead of Gary Gait. Grant was disappointed that his Colorado Mammoth, leading 10-4 at halftime, could not score a goal in the second half in squeaking out a 10-9 win at home over the Philadelphia Wings last Saturday.

''I'm sure I'll look back down the road at it and appreciate it,'' he said of passing NLL Hall of Famer Gait. ''But, right now, I'm just down because, offensively, we tried everything we could to give that one away. We have to play better in the second half.''

It has taken Grant 183 games to get to 1,167. Gait played 198 games to amass 1,165.

The top 10: 1. John Tavares, Buffalo, 1,661; 2. Colin Doyle, Toronto, 1,259; 3. Grant, 1,168; 4. Gait, 1,165; 5. Josh Sanderson, Toronto, 1,137; 6. Shawn Williams, Buffalo, 1,092; 7. Gavin Prout, Colorado, 920; 8. Dan Dawson, Rochester, 917; 9. Lewis Ratcliff, Washington, 874; 10. Blaine Manning, Toronto, 829.

Accursi gets 800th point

Mike Accursi is the 11th man on that list. His assist on Rochester's second goal in a 12-8 home win over Toronto last Saturday was his 800th NLL point. The 38-year-old native of Pelham, Ont., went on to score three goals and pick up another assist and now has 804 points.

''That's a lot of years in the league, I guess,'' Accursi replied when asked how he was able to reach the milestone. ''I guess it means I'm old. I don't know, it's a great personal accomplishment but, you know, I'm more proud of the championships I've won. I'll keep going.''

Vinc on goalie of year pace

Rochester's Matt Vinc has a .808 save percentage, which puts him in the running for a third goalie-of-the-year award. Vinc won the award with league-best save percentages of .810 in 2010 and .794 in 2011.

''He's the guy who saves our bacon when we make mistakes,'' said coach Mike Hasen.

Here's how they stack up around the league (minimum 200 minutes): 1. Vinc, 808; 2. Tyler Richards, Washington, .805; 3. Nick Rose, Toronto, .792; 4. Brandon Miller, Philadelphia, .776; 5. Tye Belanger, Colorado, and Tyler Carlson, Minnesota, .772; 7. Anthony Cosmo, Buffalo, .754; 8. Aaron Bold, Edmonton, .748; 9. Evan Kirk, Minnesota, .744; 10. Mike Poulin, Calgary, .741; 11. Matt Roik, Washington, .720.

Bandits desperate for win

Buffalo, 5-8, has lost five in a row and is in danger of becoming the one team to miss the playoffs. The Bandits haven't missed the playoffs since 2002.

Mark Steenhuis was asked as he stood outside the dressing room entrance after an 18-11 loss in Toronto last Friday to assess the team's leadership.

''I think when you go down five there's a lot lacking,'' he replied. ''There's a lot of things we've got to fix.

''I've said this before: we've got a great group of guys in there, from the rookies leading up to the vets. We've got a lot of character. We've just got to somehow put it together. There's really no excuses. You can look back and say whatever you want to say about injuries and mixing up the lineup with all the new players but it doesn't matter. It's the job of all the guys in that room to really step up.''

The Bandits have three games left. They need a win. Where are they going to get it? At Minnesota this Saturday? At Washington on April 13? At home against Rochester on April 20?

Attendance count

Biggest crowd last weekend was in Denver where the 10-9 Colorado Mammoth win over Philadelphia drew 15,292 to the Pepsi Center. Elsewhere: 11,546 in Toronto's Air Canada Centre for an 18-11 Rock win over Buffalo; 8,079 in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center for a 20-11 Minnesota Swarm win over Philadelphia; 7,013 in Rochester's Blue Cross Arena for a 12-8 Knighthawks win over Toronto; and 4,727 in Comcast Arena in Everett for Calgary's 13-11 win over Washington.

A weekend to remember

Angus Dineley wants to do it again.

With Wings No. 1 Brandon Miller suspended, Dineley got his first NLL goaltending start in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was 5-5 at halftime. The Swarm poured it on with their fast-break transition attack in the second half. Although Philadelphia lost, it was an experience that whetted Dineley's appetite. It was 5-5 at halftime. The Swarm poured it on with their fast-break transition breaks in the second half.

''We didn't get the result we were looking for but it was a good experience, that's for sure,'' he replied when asked to sum up his wild weekend. ''We had a good first half but it got away from us in the second half. I didn't make quite as many saves as I'd have liked to. But I've got something to build on now for whenever I get in next.''

The adrenalin was pumping as he stood on the floor during the pre-game anthem.

''I was looking around taking it all in,'' said Dineley. ''It's an intense crowd there in Minnesota. The place was going nuts. I was a bit nervous but I was excited in a good way.''

He was blitzed with 16 shots to handle in the fourth quarter.

''We let a few mistakes snowball on us and we got away from what we were doing well.''

His teammates were supportive after the game.

''Most of them tapped my shin pads and said, 'You did well.' The guys told me not to let it get me down.''

More than anything, it was a learning experience for a goalie who was never drafted.

''You learn from everything you do,'' said Dineley. ''I had moments where I felt I was doing exactly what I needed to do at that level. The guys are so good at that level . . . but, definitely, I want to get another shot at it. It was a great experience.''

The Wings flew to Denver and Dineley dressed as the backup with Miller back in the crease against the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday.

Dineley wore 31 on his back.

''I've always worn a number in the 30s and I wasn't too picky,'' he explains. ''It was the number I was wearing in Toronto with the CLax team I was playing for so it was a nice continuance for me.''

Stay-at-home defensemen

Rory Smith of the Colorado Mammoth has played 82 NLL games over six seasons and has never scored a goal. That's because he doesn't try to score. Smith is the ultimate stay-at-home defenseman. He knows his role, performs it well, gets off the floor and lets Mammoth attackers do their thing. He hasn't taken a shot on goal this year. He's only taken four in his career _ two in 2012 and two in 2009.

Chris White of the Toronto Rock used to take mad dashes with the ball. He has seven goals on his NLL resume to prove it but, since 2008 when he last scored, he's stayed close to his team's crease. In 159 games over 11 years, he has taken only 19 shots on goal, and none this year.

Other players without a shot on goal this season while playing most if not all of their teams' games include Rory Glaves and Jon Sullivan of the Rochester Knighthawks, Philadelphia's Brett Manney and Edmonton's John Lintz. Glaves and Manney haven't had a SOG since 2011.

Goaltenders Brandon Miller of the Wings and Nick Rose of the Rock each have credit for one shot on goal this season, which is one more than Smith, White, Glaves, Sullivan, Manney and Lintz.

Goals, goals, goals

Ranking the offenses: 1. Calgary 14.2 goals a game; 2. Edmonton 13.2; 3. Minnesota 12.8; 4. Toronto 12.5; 5. Washington 11.8; 6. Colorado 11.4; 7. Rochester 11.0; 8. Buffalo 10.8; 9. Philadelphia 10.4.

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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