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Stories/Op-Ed

Il Indoor: Three Stars Of Nll Week 10

After three National Lacrosse League games in NLL Week 10, preview the Three Stars of Week 10 by Stephen Stamp on IL Indoor below. Get ready for what will be a thrilling second half to the season including five games in Week 11 starting with two on Friday night.

“The matchups brought about by the differences in summer and winter lacrosse rosters can make for some interesting viewing during the National Lacrosse League season,” Stamp writes. “For a great example, look at Saturday night’s game between the Colorado Mammoth and New England Black Wolves. With a little over five minutes left in a hotly contested game, Adam Jones scored his seventh goal of the game to give the Mammoth a 12-11 lead.”

New England’s Andrew Suitor chased down a loose ball on the ensuing Colorado possession and spun away from Jones to head behind his own net when he was rammed into the boards by Jones on a pretty nasty check from behind. Black Wolves goalie Evan Kirk started to run after Jones to stand up for his teammate but was stunned to see play continue with no penalty called and Callum Crawford corral the ball after a big bounce in front of the empty net and put it home to stretch the lead to two goals.

Furious but determined to focus on the game, New England battled back after another Crawford goal to get back within two when Jimmy Purves scored on a sensational transition play. Then, with about a minute and a half to play, Jones went to run behind the New England net after a loose ball. Kirk met him with a huge body check that sent Jones bouncing to the turf. The play gave possession to the Mammoth but you got the sense that Kirk didn’t mind.

Patrick Saunders banked a shot in off the goalie’s leg pad and just inside the post with 46 seconds to play to make it a one-goal game once again. The Wolves had a last chance to tie when they gained possession in the final half minute (Crawford was ragging the ball and killed almost the entire 30-second clock but lost possession when he was toppled by a trio of Black Wolves defenders and had his helmet yanked off— New England certainly wasn’t the only team with questions for the refs) but turned the ball over with three seconds to play without getting a chance for a shot. A Colorado defender grabbed the ball and whipped it the length of the floor to Jones, who inexplicably shot it into the empty net just as the buzzer sounded.

Jones knew that violation of “the code” would not be popular with New England and, sure enough, Black Wolves captain Shawn Evanschased Jones down, bumped him into the back boards and tried to pull his bucket off to get a go at him. They were separated without too much developing and the teams proceeded to the hand shake lines.

The interesting thing about the whole scenario is that Jones, Suitor, Kirk and Evans are all teammates with the Peterborough Lakers in the summer. Can’t you just imagine the chats those four will have at their first gathering with the MSL club come June? These players are pretty good about putting things behind them once they leave the floor, but there has to be at least some good-natured chirping coming.

What does all that have to do with the 3 Stars of the week? Well, Jones is one of them and Evans wasn’t far off from making the top trio. Mostly, though, I just thought it was interesting.

First Star
Adam Jones, Colorado Mammoth
7 goals, 1 assist

He’s back on top for the second straight week after once again putting up a ton of goals. Just think, he could have had a couple more: Jones missed on a penalty shot and the ball he put into the empty net at the end of regulation went in a couple tenths of a second after time expired. He also set a new NLL record by scoring in his 56th straight game, becoming the Joe Dimaggio of lacrosse. Jones is on an unbelievable run that has him in the hunt for the league lead in goals.

Second Star
Dhane Smith, Buffalo Bandits
5 goals, 3 assists

Smith had some sweet goals in the Bandits’ rout of Vancouver but his prettiest play was an assist when he threaded the ball cross-floor through a forest of sticks to hit Daryl Veltman right in the pocket as the lefty cut towards the crease. The goal didn’t have the drama of some of Jones’ tallies—Buffalo was already up 7-2 when it happened—but it was a thing of beauty and captures the way the Great Dhane is playing the game these days.

Honorable Mentions
Shawn Evans
 (New England): 2g. 4a. Among his half dozen points was one of the best goals I’ve seen. Evans walked out from the boards along the goal line extended, holding the ball while he waited for his teammates to join the play. Still watching them run into the offensive zone, Evans fired the ball at the near post close to the carpet. When you watch the replay carefully, you see that there wasn’t actually a space for the ball to go in but that a tiny one opened up right where the ball was headed as Alex Buque shifted his right foot to try to make a save. An extraordinary shot…Cody Jamieson (Rochester): 4g, 3a. Jamieson continues to pick spots from the top of the formation. He’s absolutely deadly coming over the top…Curtis Dickson (Calgary): 4g. Dickson was back to his shooting ways after contributing with his passing the week before. What a heartbreaker for the Roughnecks to drop a third straight overtime game…Daryl Veltman (Buffalo): 3g, 1a. Veltman hasn’t had the kind of impact Buffalo was looking for when they signed him as a free agent, but he had his biggest impact on a game Saturday with a physical and dynamic performance and was rewarded with a four-point night…John Grant, Jr. (Colorado): 2g, 4a. Grant didn’t particularly stand out but made solid contributions. It’s not easy for one of the best scorers the game has even seen to be okay with that. Grant is just fine as long as the team keeps winning and deserves plenty of credit for recognizing how he can best help Colorado chase a championship…Matt Vinc (Rochester): 46/54, .851 save percentage. Vinc is fine facing lots of shots and gets plenty of help from his defence making them manageable, but he still had to come up big for the Knighthawks to get their road win and he did so…Anthony Cosmo (Buffalo): 42/50, .840 save percentage. The game in Vancouver didn’t look close, but it would have been a whole lot closer had Cosmo not made a series of excellent saves early on that allowed his Bandits to build a big lead and coast…Jordan Durston (Vancouver): 3g. Had the most jump of anyone on his team and kept working till the final buzzer; his hat trick was well-deserved…Derek Suddons (New England): 2g, 4LB, 2CTO. Suddons’ contributions don’t tend to be obvious. He’s been a rock-solid defender and leader for the Black Wolves. His scoring a pair of goals is unusual and gives me a chance to honour the splendid veteran in this space…Mike Poulin (Calgary): 37/46, .804 save percentage. It’s hard to feel good about a game right away when you give up the OT winner, but Poulin was very good for Calgary. He sits second in the league in both goals against average and save percentage. If Poulin can carry his current form through the second half of the season, he’ll be a serious contender to again capture the goalie of the year award he won in 2012…Jimmy Purves (New England): 1g, 1a, 4LB, 3CTO. Purves may finally have found a long-term home in the NLL; there’ll be no question about it if he continues to…

Click here for the Third Star and full list of honorable mentions on Stephen Stamp’s Three Stars of Week 10 on IL Indoor.

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