January 16, 2013

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NLL Notebook: Outdoorsman Farrell Doing Just Fine Inside with Wings

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

Undrafted free agent Ethan Farrell lives in Raleigh, N.C., and works as an arborist when he isn't commuting to join his Wings teammates. He scored two great goals in Philadelphia's win Friday night against Buffalo.
© Philadelphia Wings

Philadelphia Wings rookie Ethan Farrell scored two fantastic goals in his first NLL game.

The 5-foot-10 native of Nantucket, Mass., via Virginia's Division III Lynchburg College dove into the crease to score the game's first goal and he leapt from behind the net to score his team's 11th goal in a 13-8 home win over Buffalo last Friday night.

''I love diving to try and score,'' Farrell said. ''I love the indoor game. I was pumped. It was awesome to get out there and play. I'd been looking forward to it for a while.''

Farrell lives in Raleigh, N.C., and works as an arborist when he isn't commuting to join his Wings teammates. He made the team as an undrafted free agent. He's learned the intricacies of indoor lacrosse by playing for the Vermont Voyageurs of the Quebec Senior Lacrosse League since 2009. Going into First Nations communities in Canada for games was an eye opener for Farrell.

''That's a real physical league,'' he said. ''You learn how to take a hit.''

Games in the Turtle Dome at Akwesasne, Ontario, have been particularly memorable.

''It's always awesome to play in the Turtle Dome,'' said Farrell, 24. ''It's a pretty cool venue. People are hootin' and hollerin' and it's always fun to play there. I'll probably play for Vermont again next summer.''

First, he'll relish playing in the NLL in Philadelphia.

''I just love the intensity and passion everyone brings to every practice and every game,'' he said of the atmosphere around the Wings. ''Everyone wants to get better so we're looking to continue to improve. Last Friday was a great team win. Our defense played awesome. [Goaltender] Brandon Miller played lights out. The front end was getting it done, too. It was just a great team win.''

Farrell is an outdoorsman, which explains how he got into making his own lacrosse sticks. Historically, hickory was used before the lightweight aluminum alloy models now in widespread use became popular in the sport, and Farrell has made hickory shafts by using a hatchet and then a draw knife to finish the wood. He's unlikely to revert to hickory now since the NLL allows only fabricated models.

Philadelphia's next game is in Toronto.

''I'm excited for Saturday,'' Farrell said. ''We'll go out there and play hard for 60 and hope to come away with the W.''

Dhane Smith Nets First Winner

Buffalo Bandits rookie Dhane Smith has started his NLL career impressively.

Smith scored a goal in his first pro game, the 13-8 loss in Philadelphia, and fired in three including the winner in a 13-12 home win over Minnesota on Saturday. His game-high 11th shot from the middle of the zone skipped past Swarm goalie Evan Kirk, who happens to be Smith's teammate during summer ball with an amateur team in his home city of Kitchener, Ontario.

''We talked about it right before I got out there on that shift,'' Smith said of the shot for the win. ''The coach told me to wait for the ball and to get off a shot. I play with Evan in the summer so that helped a bit in knowing what kind of shot to take. I was able to beat him with a bouncer to the top shelf.''

He threw up his arms in celebration when he realized it was a goal.

''I was so excited,'' he said. ''It was the best feeling of my life. The crowd went nuts. It was a great feeling.''

The Bandits trailed 3-0 early and 8-6 at halftime. Smith completed his hat trick at 10:49 of the fourth quarter. It wasn't over yet. But the Bandits hung on for the win.

''I knew we could pull it off,'' Smith said. ''Our defense played well the whole game and our goalie [Kurtis Wagar] was really good. It was a nervous time on the bench in the last minute so it was great to pull out the win.''

Smith was Buffalo's first pick, fifth overall, in the 2012 entry draft. He won an Ontario Jr. A scoring title in Kitchener. He's a sturdy 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds.

''I'm pretty happy with my start,'' he said. ''The first game, I was really nervous. Once I got that out of the way I felt way more confident. The guys are showing confidence in me, which makes my confidence grow.''

So, the Bandits are 1-1.

''After dropping the season opener, to get that win helps us out a lot,'' Smith said. ''Against Philly, we kind of got down on ourselves. Against Minny, we got down but we didn't give up. When we started scoring, we started rolling. We just went out the next shift and kept battlin'.

Chad Culp also scored three goals Saturday.

''Culpie really stepped up,'' Smith said. ''We pushed the ball up the floor really well. John Tavares was on top of his game. Shawn Williams played well. Everyone chipped in. It was a team effort.''

The Bandits will look for another win in Rochester on Saturday night.

Smith had never played a lacrosse game in front of as many people as watched in Philadelphia and in Buffalo.

''It was intimidating at first but when they're on your side it's a great feeling,'' he said

Nick Rose Gets It Done for Rock

Toronto is off to a 2-0 start and, without a doubt, goaltender Nick Rose was the team's MVP when it opened the new season with a successful trip into Alberta.

Outshot 56-48 in Calgary, the Rock won 13-11 last Saturday night.

Outshot 53-44 in Edmonton, the Rock won 10-9 on Sunday afternoon.

Rose on Wednesday was named the league's defensive player of the week.

''We feel pretty good,'' Rose said when asked to sum up the team's collective mood upon returning home. ''Anytime you can go into two hostile environments and get two wins it's certainly going to help down the line. There's an excitement factor with the team right now. Everybody is thrilled to get the two wins.''

Toronto acquired Rose and a second-round draft pick last March 19 from Calgary, where he'd been a backup to Mike Poulin. The Roughnecks got Toronto's first-round pick in the 2014 entry draft. Rose had never started an NLL game. He made his debut on March 23 in Rochester, N.Y., and the Rock won.

The 6-foot, 285-pound native of Orangeville, Ontario, has now made 10 starts including playoffs and he's won eight of them. He made 89 saves in the two Rock wins last weekend in frustrating shooters time and time again.

We asked him to explain how he approaches the job.

''I try to stay calm over the course of a game even when other teams go on runs,'' he replied. ''I don't stray too far from playing my game, which is getting out on my angles, challenging shooters and being consistent for 60 minutes.''

Everything clicked in Alberta. Rose loved watching the veteran Rock forwards pass the ball around.

''You can tell they've been playing together for a while,'' he said. ''They came up clutch for us when we needed them, especially late in the games.''

Chris White, the former Buffalo captain, played his first two games on the Rock defense.

''Chris White really had a great weekend,'' said Rose. ''He's a guy who makes offensive players pay. He battles for all 60 minutes. The whole unit moved the ball well out of our end. It was a collective effort from everybody that got us going. The whole unit played spectacular.''

Swarm Rookie Displays Accurate Shot

Shayne Jackson took four shots and scored three Minnesota goals in his NLL debut in Buffalo, but the 13-12 loss meant he wasn't in a mood to celebrate.

''It was good to start off the season [with three goals] but that really doesn't matter because the win was ultimately what we wanted,'' he said.

Jackson (Limestone) played alongside NLL vets Lewis Ratcliff, Athan Iannucci and Garrett Billings with the Langley Thunder in British Columbia's senior Western Lacrosse Association last summer, scoring 18 goals in 14 games, and was Minnesota's third pick, fourth overall, in the 2012 entry draft.

Major Penalties a Major Issue

With five-minute penalties for hits to the head being dished out right and left, checkers have to discipline themselves or pay a steep price.

Example A: Philadelphia was up 4-2 on Buffalo when Mark Steenhuis of the Bandits was assessed a major for whacking Drew Westervelt early in the second quarter. Jordan Hall and Brodie Merrill scored power-play goals to make it 6-2 and the Bandits were in a hole from which they'd never escape.

Example B: With Toronto up 8-5 in the third quarter in Calgary on Saturday night, Nolan Heavenor stuck a hand in the face of Rock forward Garrett Billings to drop him to the carpet after he took a shot. Heavenor watched from the sin bin where he was serving a major while Josh Sanderson scored two power-play goals to make it 10-5. Toronto wound up winning by two, 13-11.

Quick Start for No. 1 Draft Pick

It didn't take long for Mark Matthews to show why the Edmonton Rush made him the first selection in the 2012 entry draft. Matthews scored 44 seconds into his first NLL game and finished with three goals against the Toronto Rock on Sunday.

15,000-Plus in Buffalo

Weekend attendance numbers weren't bad: 9,096 in Philadelphia; 15,238 in Buffalo; 11,653 in Calgary; and 13,148 in Denver, where an NFL playoff game transfixed most sports fans. But only 6,523 showed up in Edmonton on Sunday afternoon.

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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