March 14, 2012

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NLL Notebook: Shawn Williams Sixth With 1,000 Points

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

Shawn Williams will dress in his 189th straight NLL game Saturday, a league record for consecutive games played.
© Edmonton Rush

Shawn Williams is the sixth player in indoor pro lacrosse history with 1,000 points. The 37-year-old Edmonton forward picked up eight assists in 13-10 and 16-9 losses to Calgary last weekend, giving him 1,001 career points on 402 goals and 599 assists.

''Bittersweet,'' Williams replied when asked about reaching the 1,000-point plateau. ''It's obviously nice to get that over with in a sense but obviously the stat we're looking at is 2-6. We're battling, and we've got to keep battling.''

When Williams suits up for his 189th straight Saturday in Philadelphia, he'll set the NLL record for most consecutive games.

Top 10 career points: 1. John Tavares, Buffalo, 1,590; 2. Gary Gait, retired, 1,165; 3. Colin Doyle, Toronto, 1,135; 4. Josh Sanderson, Toronto, 1,062; 5. John Grant, Colorado, 1,045; 6. Shawn Williams, Edmonton, 1,001; 7. Gavin Prout, Colorado, 848; 8. Dan Dawson, Philadelphia, 825; 9. Blaine Manning, Toronto, 798; 10. Lewis Ratcliff, Washington, 790.

Roughnecks on a Roll

Calgary's sweep of Edmonton keeps it in contention to land the No. 1 overall seed come playoff time.

''It was great to get both wins and separate ourselves from the pack,'' says Shawn Evans, who fired in five goals Saturday. ''The team has been playing well.''

The players can't say enough about goaltender Mike Poulin.

''Pouly is playing great lacrosse,'' says Evans. ''He's making big saves to keep us in games and the defense, holding them to one goal in the second half Saturday, that speaks for itself.''

Poulin has a league-best .788 save percentage.

How the goalies stack up (minimum 180 minutes played): 1. Mike Poulin, Calgary, .788; 2. Aaron Bold, Edmonton, .777; 3. Tyler Richards, Washington, .773; 4. Chris Levis, Colorado, .768; 5. Matt Vinc, Rochester, .766; 6. Brandon Miller, Philadelphia, .762; 7. Tyler Carlson, Minnesota, .742; 8. Matt Roik, Toronto, .739; 9. Mike Thompson, Buffalo, .737.

Up front, the 'Necks are hard to handle because of the diversity of the attack. If it isn't Evans or Curtis Dickson scoring, it's Dane Dobbie or Daryl Veltman or Jeff Shattler firing balls past goalies.

''Our offense is so spread out and talented,'' says Evans. ''We all want the same thing _ to win a championship. It's awesome. We have each other's back and play for each other. It's a great locker room to be in.''

Coaches Dave Pym, Curt Malawsky and Bob McMahon get their points across effectively.

''The coaching staff is doing a great job,'' says Evans. ''They have us ready for each game. They have a lot of smarts. Coach Malawsky knows offenses to perfection. It's awesome taking in what he has to say. It's just a great offense to be a part of.''

Vinc Doing It Again

Matt Vinc makes a habit of getting better as an NLL season progresses. He was at his best in allowing only three first-half goals and making 48 saves in all in Rochester's 13-10 home win over Buffalo last Saturday afternoon that lifted the Knighthawks past Toronto and into second place in the East.

''Not only is Matt a phenomenal athlete and competitor, he always has been and always will be a true student of the game,'' says Randy Mearns, head lacrosse coach at Canisius College where Vinc played NCAA. ''As the season progresses, Matt becomes more comfortable and confident about what type of offense his opponents will play and where the shooters will be shooting from. He breaks down the general team flow and individual players' strengths and weaknesses. It's like he sees the shot before it even happens. Just amazing!''

Dangerous Dan, Clever Crowley

Dan Dawson has been feeding passes to Kevin Crowley for Wings goals all winter but they reversed things during a 12-10 win in Toronto, and that was on purpose. Dawson scored three times and Crowley once while twice setting up Dawson last Friday night.

It was all about attacking with less predictability.

''We have to be a little more diverse,'' says Dawson. ''We've got six weapons on offense that can put the ball in the net and we all have to contribute.''

Hominuck's Payback

Mike Hominuck contributed by delivering a dagger to the collective Rock gut by firing in two in a row in the fourth quarter. It was delicious payback. He'd played for the Rock in 2010 and was told at season's end he wouldn't be re-signed.

''Anytime a team releases you and you come back to haunt them, it always feels good,'' Hominuck said after pulling off his pads. ''I'll be able to sleep very well.''

Math Test

GM-coach Johnny Mouradian was a teacher in his previous life, which was easy to guess as he got into detail in his analysis of his team's win.

Mouradian: ''Dan was three [goals] and three [assists] on eight shots, which is where Dan needs to be. Right? That's a great shooting percentage for him. And then we had Drew [Westervelt] with eight shots and three goals. That's a great shooting percentage. Keep in mind that our shooting percentage up to now was about 16 percent. So, where's our shooting percentage tonight? Twelve for 44. What's that?''

Reporter: ''I got 35 per cent on my high school algebra final, Johnny, so I can't help you with that.''

(Answer: 12 goals on 44 shots on goal = 27 percent)

Mouradian's bottom line: ''We're in first place and we've got the tiebreakers over Toronto and Buffalo so, obviously, we're really proud of our guys. They worked really hard. We talked about our drive to win. We talked about our determination, which is the effort. The last couple of games we lost it a bit but tonight we spent a lot of time talking about trust _ trusting each other. We don't need to slide [on checking assignments] like we did up in Edmonton and the last game against Rochester. We don't need to help out. Our 1-on-1 D is really good. Our 2-on-2 D is really good. Blaine [Harrison, assistant coach] has done a marvellous job getting everybody to understand that back there. We got good stops and then we'd go down and score and when they scored we answered.''

Sanderson Gets Assist No. 700

Josh Sanderson pushed past 700 career assists with four against the Wings and now has 702.

Top 10 career assists: 1. Tavares 848; 2. Sanderson 702; 3. Doyle 695; 4. Williams 599; 5. Prout 564; 6. Grant 545; 7. Gait 530; 8. Manning 504; 9. Dawson and Jim Veltman, retired, 493.

Attendance Update

The largest crowd of the season, 17,116, watched the Colorado Mammoth defeat the Washington Stealth 13-11 in Denver last Saturday.

The averages around the league going into Week 11 (with number of home games played in brackets):

Buffalo 15,317 (4)
Colorado 15,124 (5)
Toronto 10,528 (6)
Philadelphia 8,334 (5)
Calgary 8,161 (5)
Minnesota 7,840 (4)
Edmonton 7,446 (3)
Rochester 7,115 (4)
Washington 3,997 (5)

Games This Weekend

There are only three. Colorado, Washington, Calgary and Rochester have byes.

Friday

Buffalo at Toronto

The Bandits, 2-6, have lost six in a row and the confidence of goaltender Mike Thompson appears shattered. Look for Anthony Cosmo to get the start. If Buffalo is going to rescue its season, Toronto would be the place to start. The Rock, 4-5, have lost two in a row at home, are 2-4 at home on the season and have received only so-so goaltending of late from Matt Roik. Buffalo beat Toronto 14-10 in its season opener at home Jan. 14.

Saturday

Minnesota at Buffalo

Minnesota, 5-3, goes into Buffalo off a bye week that followed impressive wins in Calgary and Washington that lifted it into third place in the West. The Swarm will be fresh and brimming with confidence, while the East cellar dwelling Bandits will have to play for the second night in a row. In one previous meeting this season, Minnesota won 19-11 at home on Jan. 28.

Edmonton at Philadelphia

Edmonton, 2-6, has suffered from a continued lack of offensive punch and is last in the West. Philadelphia, 5-4, aims to retain sole possession of first place in the East by avenging a 12-10 Feb. 24 loss in Edmonton.

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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