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Weekend Wrap: Iannucci's Return Upstaged by Super Subs

02/19/2012, 9:18pm EST
By Andy Lefkowitz, Associate Editor for NLL.com

Philadelphia comes through with signature win behind Dawson, Colorado remains perfect thanks to Grant

Without practicing with his new team, Washington's Athan Iannucci had a goal and two assists in a 15-12 loss to Rochester on Saturday night. Photo by Ward LaForme, Jr.

Week 7 in the National Lacrosse League saw the return of a former MVP, a signature win by an up-and-coming team and more high-scoring outputs by two of the league’s top players.

The Athan Iannucci era in Washington got under way Saturday night with a 15-12 loss to Rochester. To try to boost their offense, the Stealth last Monday parted with transition star Paul Rabil to acquire Iannucci, the 2008 NLL Most Valuable Player who still holds the league’s single-season record with 71 goals.

Iannucci finished with a goal and two assists during his debut in red, white and black – not too shabby considering he didn’t have a chance to practice with his new team and picked up the offense during the game.

"There are still things that need to get ironed out up front, but the ball moved well for most of the game with Iannucci in there," Washington assistant coach Art Webster said.

Washington has the second-fewest goals in the league with 52, but once Iannucci learns the offense, he should make an impact with Rhys Duch and Lewis Ratcliff, who each had four goals Saturday.

Iannucci will make his home debut Friday night against Minnesota.

With five players suspended indefinitely, the Knighthawks – on paper, at least – didn’t appear to be the favorite in this contest. Instead, they rallied with five late goals to bounce back from a loss a week earlier in Minnesota, where they totaled six.

“It shows the character that we do have in this dressing room,” coach Mike Hasen told Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “We’re young, we’re going to make mistakes, and we’re going to make more mistakes moving forward, but our effort is going to be there every single night.”

Maiorana’s recap can be read here.

While Rochester is trying to move up in the East, a new power is emerging in the division. After finishing 5-11 a year ago, the Philadelphia Wings may have proved to the rest of the league that they’re now a force to be reckoned thanks to a statement win on the road.

At 4-2, the Wings moved into sole possession of first place in the East following their 14-8 win over Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. Brendan Mundorf, who had five goals, told Kevin Cirilli of the Philadelphia Inquirer that this victory was especially sweet after being blanked by the Rock in the second half of a loss on Feb. 4 at home.

“Every week we’ve been taking steps to get better,” said Mundorf, one of three Wings with at least 10 goals in 2012. “We’ve been chipping away and chipping away, and so (to) beat this team for all 60 minutes turned out to be a nice win for us.”

Read Cirilli’s recap here.

Wings forward Dan Dawson, who was named the Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, made it clear that he’s in the running to keep the award a little longer. Dawson recorded his second straight 10-point game by notching a hat trick with seven assists Saturday.

Before Dawson, the last player to have consecutive games with at least 10 points was Tracey Kelusky in November 2001. Dawson leads the NLL with 34 assists and is second with 41 points this year.

For Toronto head coach Troy Cordingley, the loss at home was just embarrassing.

“We just did not put any effort in,” he told Daniel Girard of the Toronto Star. “We’re the (defending NLL) champs and we’re not playing like the champs. We got owned in our own rink. We were brutal tonight, plain and simple.”

Read Girard’s story by clicking here.

The Rock welcomed back captain Colin Doyle, who had been out since Jan. 27 with a lower-body injury. His NLL record-tying streak of 188 straight games was snapped the next evening.

Doyle, who had an assist, told Girard that the team needed to quickly forget the loss.

“It’s a loss and at the end of the day we’ve got to learn from it,” he said. “We’ve got to come ready to win next week and make up for it.”

The Rock will try to do that Friday night when they play host to Rochester.

Coming off a bye week, Colorado moved to 6-0 following a 12-7 win over Minnesota, but had to work hard late to keep its unbeaten streak intact. Sean Pollock broke a 7-all tie with 5:22 to play and the Mammoth followed with four goals less than four minutes apart.

“It was a tough battle all night, but in the fourth quarter we found our legs,” said Pollock, who had two goals and three assists.

Though Colorado had an off night from rookie star Adam Jones, who managed just two assists, the club got another outstanding effort from John Grant Jr. as he finished with four goals and three assists.

Grant continues to lead the NLL with 23 goals and 52 points.

“Outstanding,” Mammoth coach Bob Hamley said. “He is John Grant Jr. for a reason.”

Next up for Grant and Colorado is a game against Calgary on Friday night in Denver. The Mammoth defeated the Roughnecks 12-11 on Jan. 21 as Grant completed a 10-point night by assisting on Gavin Prout’s power-play goal in the opening minute of overtime.

Minnesota was able to keep up with Colorado for almost 50 minutes, but ultimately failed to build off their best stretch of 2012. Last week, the Swarm moved a game over .500 with home wins over Rochester and Edmonton.

“We were lazy. We were flat-footed,” coach Mike Lines said. “… (Colorado) didn’t shut us down. We shut ourselves down.”

A reason for the Swarm’s struggles on Saturday was poor showings from their All-Stars. Callum Crawford, Ryan Benesch, Andrew Suitor and rookie Jordan MacIntosh combined for two goals and six assists.

The latest installment of the Battle of Alberta continued to swing in Calgary’s favor Saturday after the Roughnecks pulled away late for a 12-8 win over Edmonton. Calgary has won five in a row over their provincial rivals since the start of last season and 17 of 21 all-time meetings.

As usual, forward second-year forward Curtis Dickson was key for Calgary, recording his fifth hat trick in as many games against the Rush.

“It’s a funny coincidence,” Dickson told Ian Busby of the Calgary Sun. “It’s tough not to get up for these games. It’s the battle of Alberta.”

Read Busby’s story by clicking here.

For the Rush, it marked the end of a four-game road trip in which they lost three straight. After setting a season high with 16 goals in a win over Washington on Jan. 28, Edmonton has averaged just 8.0 goals per game during its skid.

“I don’t want to put it all on the offense because it is a team game, but scoring eight goals is not good enough,” said head coach and general manager Derek Keenan.

Keenan had hoped last week’s acquisition of Rabil from Washington for Iannucci would provide a spark, but Rabil has not yet reported to the Rush.

The team announced in a press release Saturday that Rabil is looking for a trade to a club in the eastern United States and that both sides will take time to mull over this request before anything is decided.

Stay tuned.

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