February 13, 2012

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Rabil to Rush: American Star Dealt from Stealth

from staff reports

The Washington Stealth traded transition star Paul Rabil on Monday to the Edmonton Rush in a deal that sent former NLL MVP Athan Iannucci to Washington.
© Larry Palumbo

EDMONTON, Ab. -- The Edmonton Rush have acquired Paul Rabil, one of the National Lacrosse League's top transition players, along with a first-round pick in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft from the Washington Stealth in exchange for Athan Iannucci and a second-round pick in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft.

Edmonton Rush general manager-head coach Derek Keenan was pleased to add a top talent like Rabil to the roster, while Washington coach Chris Hall said he hopes the acquisition of Iannucci injects some life into a slumping offense.

Iannucci hadn't played a game for the Rush this season as part of a contract holdout.

"Paul is an exceptional player, one of the league's best at his position, and he is going to add a lot to our lineup," said Keenan. "He can move the ball and he can score, but Paul is well-regarded for the heart and hustle he brings to the game, and that is something we are eager to have working for us."

Said Hall: “It has been a pleasure to coach a player like Paul Rabil. I enjoyed seeing him through the beginning stages of learning the box lacrosse game and I wish nothing but the best for him as he continues his career. It is an expensive price to pay, but we feel this trade gives us the best chance to win a title in 2012 and beyond.”

There’s a similar mood among the Stealth players as they say goodbye to one teammate and welcome another.

“Paul was a big part of our Championship run and it’s something we’ll always share together,” said Stealth captain Jason Bloom. “It’s one of the realities of pro sports and it’s never easy to say goodbye to a teammate.” 

Rabil, who has eight points, 27 loose balls, and three forced turnovers in five games this season, is coming off a Week 5 performance that earned him his third career NLL Transition Player of the Week honor. The 26-year-old from Elkton, Maryland, collected six loose balls along with one goal and two assists in the Stealth's 11-10 overtime win over Buffalo.

The six-foot-three, 225-pounder is coming off an impressive 2011 campaign that saw him earn a career-high 30 assists and 44 points. He also led Washington with 153 loose balls and appeared in the NLL All-Star Game.

Rabil, who has missed just one game in three NLL regular seasons, has notched 44 goals and 52 assists for 123 points in NLL regular-season play, plus 17 points and 50 loose balls in eight playoff matchups.

Iannucci, 29, is widely regarded as one of the most dangerous goal-scorers in the game today. In just 54 career NLL games, the 6'4", 215-pounder has 153 goals, including a NLL record 71 goals during his 2008 MVP campaign as a member of the Philadelphia Wings. A first round draft pick by the Wings in 2006, Iannucci tallied 30 goals en route to All-Rookie Team honors during the 2007 season. In 2011, his final season in Philadelphia prior to being traded to Edmonton, the right-handed forward tallied 29 goals and added 32 assists in just 13 games.

Stealth head coach Chris Hall expects the addition of Iannucci will provide a boost to the Stealth's offense, which is averaging just over nine goals per game this season. The Stealth is off to a 1-4 start.

"It's no secret that our offense has been struggling so far this season," said Hall, who has been absent from the Stealth's bench so far this season as he continues recovery from cancer treatment. "We need some goals, and there was a record-setting goal scorer sitting out there."

Iannucci played four seasons in Philadelphia, missing a portion of the 2009 season and all of 2010 with a knee injury. After a fantastic 2011 campaign with the Wings, he was traded to the Edmonton Rush, where he was placed on the protected player list after not reporting to camp.

While Edmonton wasn't the right fit for Iannucci, the Port Moody, British Columbia native is convinced he's found his home with the Washington Stealth.

"I couldn't be more excited to join the Stealth," said Iannucci. "This team consists of players and coaches for which I have the utmost respect. I'm just looking to fit in where I am needed. I'll score goals, set picks, grab loose balls: whatever the team needs. My only goal is to get the Stealth another NLL Championship."

Iannucci's play last summer with the Langley Thunder of the Western Lacrosse Association has also added to the excitement of the Stealth coaching staff, as Iannucci led the team to an improbable run to the Mann Cup Finals. He tallied 58 points (29g, 28a) in 18 regular season games and added 45 points (28g, 17a) in 15 postseason games.

"(Stealth assistant coach) Art (Webster) and I got the opportunity to watch Athan play over the summer," said Hall. "He made a believer out of us with some absolutely jaw-dropping plays. He's big, strong and athletic with incredible hands. He's just a spectacular lacrosse player."

Rabil has saved two of his best single-game performances for outings against the Rush. Rabil set a career-high with a seven-point effort against Edmonton in February of the 2011 season, and he propelled the Stealth to the 2010 NLL Champion's Cup final by scoring his hat trick goal in overtime as Washington slipped past the Rush in the West Division Final.

The Stealth went on to win the 2010 NLL title with Rabil scoring twice in the final. That was just part of the stellar 2010 campaign that Rabil enjoyed. Rabil was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and to a spot on the All-World team in leading Team USA to the gold medal at the World Field Lacrosse Championship. That summer, Rabil also set a world record, firing a shot at 111 mph (179 km per hour) during the Fastest Shot competition at the Major League Lacrosse All-Star Game.

Rabil has had tremendous success playing for Boston in the MLL, collecting his second MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards in 2011 following up on winning both honors in 2009. He led the Cannons to the MLL title this past summer.

In 2008, Rabil was the second overall pick in the NLL Entry Draft, just a few months after being the first overall pick in the MLL Collegiate Draft out of Johns Hopkins University.

Rabil paced John Hopkins to NCAA championships in both 2005 and 2007. In 2007 and 2008, Rabil was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy as the nation's most outstanding player, and in 2007 he earned the McLaughlin Award as the NCAA's most outstanding midfielder. In three NCAA championship tournaments, Rabil led his school with nine goals and six assists.


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