August 30, 2012

Eck Out, Dolente In for Team USA's 'Duel in Denver' Against Canada

Chris Eck tore cartilage in his left knee in the Boston Cannons' second to last game of the regular season and will miss Team USA's Sept. 8 "Duel in Denver" against Canada. Hamilton Nationals faceoff man Matt Dolente will replace Eck on the roster.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

by Matt Forman | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Boston Cannons faceoff specialist Chris Eck will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Friday to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, Eck told Lacrosse Magazine on Thursday. He will miss next weekend's "Duel in Denver," and will be replaced on Team USA's roster by Hamilton Nationals faceoff man Matt Dolente, US Lacrosse announced.

"It's just a minor speed bump," Eck said. "This is a minor, minor tweak. I've gone under the knife before, and I've always come back as strong or stronger."

Eck, who was unable play in Major League Lacrosse Championship Weekend after injuring his knee midway through the fourth quarter of the Cannons' Aug. 4 against Ohio, will have his knee scoped Friday at Duke Sports Medicine Center. The procedure is expected to take about 45 minutes.

"It shouldn't be too crazy," Eck said. "They poke two holes in the knee, stick the camera and tools in. They're going to smooth out the part that's tweaked, and they're going to pull out any extra pieces that are hanging out."

Eck said he should be able to walk within two days, and he anticipates a six-week recovery to full health. This scope will clean up the same knee Eck had surgery on to repair a torn ACL as a freshman at Colgate, but Eck said there's no correlation between the injuries.

"It was a weird injury, and knees are funny," Eck said. "I felt a little pop. A little pain. Nothing crazy — I feel pops in my knees all the time — and that kind of happens when you're a faceoff guy. I ran off, kept playing the rest of the game and felt fine until [the next day], when my knee swelled."

Eck, who recently enrolled at Duke's Fuqua School of Business where he's pursuing his MBA, met with Dr. Claude T. Moorman, Duke's head physician and director of the Duke Sports Medicine Center, after suffering the injury. Dr. Moorman, a former physician for the Baltimore Ravens, suggested two weeks of rest after an initial MRI. But when the knee didn't improve surgery became the best option.

Eck won 58.5 percent (223 of 381) of faceoffs for Boston in 2012, his fifth season in the MLL. He felt in "really, really good shape all year" and the knee hadn't bothered him until the game against the Machine.

Eck said it was "absolutely brutal" not being able to travel to Boston for the MLL Championship, as he was instructed to stay off his feet and ice the knee to reduce the swelling. "I wanted to travel to be there so I could watch and at a minimum be a part of the team, but traveling, going up in the air, wasn't a good idea," Eck said.

Eck joked "you would have to take me off on a stretcher before I don't play" in the MLL next year. His focus is on getting back to 100 percent as quickly as possible for the early fall, which is why he scheduled the surgery so soon. And eventually, he has his sights set on making the U.S. men's national team that will play in the 2014 World Championships in Denver.

"One of my biggest goals in life is to make Team USA and win a gold medal with that group," he said. "I'm going to do absolutely everything I can to get back on my feet, and to be stronger and faster and more explosive. 2014 is my ultimate goal."

Meanwhile Dolente, the former U.S. under-19 men's national team member and Johns Hopkins star who led the NCAA in faceoff winning percentage (.673) as a senior, will be reunited with Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala, who's an assistant on Team USA coach Richie Meade's staff.

"I couldn't be more excited to play in the 'Duel in Denver,'" Dolente said. "You get very few opportunities to put the U.S. jersey on, if any opportunities at all in your career. It's a huge honor to be able to do that. From my experience on the U-19 team, you really appreciate how important these games are, and how much of an honor it is to be able to represent your country. You can't take that lightly, or take it for granted. It commands your best effort and focus, and that's what I'll hope to bring."

Dolente won 55.4 percent (219 of 395) of faceoffs for the Nationals in 2012, in his first full MLL season, eliminating any concerns about the 5-foot-7, 165-pounder's size.

"I feel bad for Chris that he has to go through surgery at this point, right before next weekend," Dolente said. "I'm wishing Chris nothing but the best, and I'm glad to hear he should recover quickly. But I'm looking forward to being able to take advantage of the opportunity, and put 100 percent out there. Hopefully we can come out with the win."

Dolente is the second-youngest player on Team USA's "Duel in Denver" roster — just eight months older than Steele Stanwick, the only 2012 collegian selected.

Long Island Lizards faceoff man Greg Gurenlian is also on Team USA's roster for "Duel in Denver," a rematch of the 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship gold-medal game, in which Team USA defeated Canada, 12-10. Team Canada is expected to release its roster for the "Duel in Denver" soon. Opening faceoff for the Sept. 8 "Duel in Denver" is slated for 7 p.m. local time at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. General admission tickets are priced at $20 and are available at www.uslacrosse.org/duelindenver.

Eck's Factor News and Notes

Eck, who previously worked in New York at NBC Universal as a manager of sales and product development, moved down to Durham, N.C., at the end of July to enroll in Duke's Fuqua School of Business, fulfilling a long-term goal. He just completed the first mini-semester of general classes about leadership and ethics, and his full course load in accounting and finance will begin Sept. 4.

"Duke is awesome," Eck said. "It's been a good amount of work, but it's also been amazing to have the weather, facilities. All around, it's awesome. There's a lot more space to work in Durham than there is in New York City."

Eck isn't sure of the NCAA rules and regulations regarding the potential of him helping the Blue Devils men's team, which already have a full coaching staff, including Charlotte Hounds defenseman Joe Cinosky as a volunteer assistant and Matt Danowski as assistant coach to his father, John. But, Eck said, "I would love to lend a hand in any way that I can, if I'm allowed to. I'm here. I want to help the team in any way possible. I love the game. I don't quite know what I'm allowed to do, though."

Check back to LaxMagazine.com for continuing coverage ahead of the Sept. 8 "Duel in Denver." Tickets are available for $20 at www.uslacrosse.org/duelindenver.


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