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Rochester to square off against familiar face in upstate New York

03/29/2012, 11:30am EDT
By Travis Larner, Rochester Knighthawks beat writer for NLL.com

Knighthawks hoping to slow down Colorado's Grant in his return to the Blue Cross Arena


Pat McCready (left) and the Rochester Knighthawks take on former teammate John Grant Jr. and the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday at the Blue Cross Arena. (Photo Credit: Michael Martin)

Watch the matchup between the Knighthawks and Mammoth at 1:05 p.m. ET Saturday from the Blue Cross Arena on the NLL Network at NLL.com here.

 

For the first time in his National Lacrosse League career, John Grant Jr. will play inside the Blue Cross Arena as a member of the opposition.

Grant will lead the Colorado Mammoth into Rochester this Saturday for his first game there since being traded on Oct. 27, 2010 in a deal that brought the then-reigning NLL Goaltender of the Year Matt Vinc to the Knighthawks.

 “Junior was a guy you can always count on when the going gets tough. You put the ball in his stick and he can make this happen whether he puts it in the net or he give his teammates an opportunity to have an easy one into the net. He’s one of the most dynamic offensive players to ever play this game,” said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen, who played alongside Grant from 2000 to 2007.

Regarded as the best player in the franchise’s history, Grant left the Knighthawks as their all-time leader in goals (433) and points (894), and is second in assists (461) and loose balls (902). He also holds the team’s single-season records with 54 goals and 111 points.

Drafted with the first overall pick in the 1999 NLL Entry Draft out of Delaware, Grant went on to win the NLL’s Rookie of the Year Award in 2000. He was named the 2007 league MVP and Champion’s Cup MVP after leading the Knighthawks to their second title.

“John’s been talking about [this game in Rochester] since the schedule came out,” said Colorado head coach Bob Hamley. “As the people in Rochester know, some of the things he does in practices and games with his stick and his skill is just phenomenal.”

Grant became only the fifth player in league history to crack the 1,000 point barrier earlier this season. The 37-year old currently leads the league with 87 points (40 goals, 47 assists) despite missing two games. He was named the Offensive Player of the Week after collecting 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in a two-game split against Philadelphia last weekend.

The Knighthawks (5-6) missed the production a player like Grant could provide in their 13-7 loss to Toronto on Saturday. They were shut out in the second period, and held to just one first-half goal. As a team, Rochester mustered only 35 shots on net and went 0-for-5 on the power play.

Jordan Hall left the game late in the first quarter with a leg injury, which he later announced via Twitter was a torn right ACL. The fifth-year pro was pulled from the bottom of a scrum in front of the Toronto bench and had to be carried to the locker room shortly after Rochester’s first-quarter goal. His exit appeared to be the turning point in the game, allowing Toronto to go on an eight-goal run into the third quarter.

Hall, also drafted first overall from Delaware in 2007, had begun earning more playing time on the back end in Rochester’s previous two wins. He had 61 loose balls, just one behind the team lead, and was fifth on the team with 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists).

“We’re still hoping on a second opinion here. At this point … his ACL looks to be torn. We’re just getting a second evaluation this week and hopefully we can get some good news out of this doctor moving forward,” said Hasen.

 

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