The feat he accomplished was as impressive as climbing Mount Everest. More impressive, you could argue, as far fewer people have accomplished it. So it’s no surprise Shawn Williams is enjoying the rarified air he’s breathing as the newest member of the NLL’s 1,000 Point Club. The veteran lefty became the sixth player in league history to accomplish the feat, the magical marker coming on an assist on a goal by Zack Greer in the second quarter Saturday night in a loss to the Roughnecks. Williams is the sixth player to reach the milestone, joining John Tavares, Gary Gait, Josh Sanderson, Colin Doyle and former Rochester teammate John Grant Jr.
Junior also reached the mark with an assist in a game against Calgary at the Saddledome earlier this season. It’s worth noting the Roughnecks didn’t stop the game to honour either feat, an embarrassing ‘oversight’ to be sure. The five who came before him are more well-known names, you could argue. Williams has gone about his career quietly.
“No,” answered Williams, when asked if he ever thought he’d join such elite company one day. “Obviously not. You just want to get in (the league) and be a part of it. As the years go on, you think maybe you have a chance. But when you first start, you just want to make it and stay part of it.”
Now in his 15th NLL season, Williams is mentioned among the greatest to ever play the game, including legends in Tavares and Gait.
“Growing up they were two of my mentors and, actually, two of my idols when I was really young,” said Williams. “So this means a lot to me.”
Williams also reached another impressive mark Saturday night playing in his 188th straight game. That tied him for the league Ironman streak with Doyle and Steve Toll. He will set a new standard when (as expected) he suits up this Saturday in Philly when the Rush travel to face the East-leading Wings.
For a guy who balances ‘real life’ with playing the rough and tumble game of lacrosse, the fact no injury — not even a bout of the flu — has kept him sidelined is impressive, indeed.
“It’s one of those things: When you get in this league you want to play every game,” said Williams, who has scored 40 or more goals three times in his career. “You don’t want to give anyone a chance (to replace you). The way I was brought up you put everything aside and you do everything for the team. You come ready as you are and whether it’s a bump or bruise, I’ve played through everything and been lucky enough to keep it going this long. Lacrosse is just fun and I really want to be out there and that’s the secret, if there’s a secret.”
When it comes to why the Rush have struggled to a 2-6 record this season, it’s really no secret either: Lack of goal scoring. The Rush have averaged just 10.4 goals a game this season, second worst to only the Stealth at 10.1 (The Roughnecks top the league with 13.5, Colorado 13 and Minnesota 12.9 round out the top 3).
With Aaron Bold playing solid between the pipes and the club’s athletic defence/transition players getting the job done most nights, it’s clear an underachieving group of forwards has been the club’s Achilles’ heel.
“Without a doubt,” agreed Williams. “It’s quite obvious. We’ve been given a chance every night to win. Every game’s been really tight, for the most part, and it’s been on our shoulders. For some reason, it just hasn’t happened. We haven’t put the ball in the net enough.”
Can the veteran put his finger on what’s going wrong on offence? No, he said.
“With us, there’s no real answer,” explained Williams. “I like to think with the guys we have it’s going to come. We are getting our chances. As the old adage says, if you’re getting your chances it’ll come. I’d be really worried if we weren’t getting our chances. It is time for us to step up and get it done, that’s for sure.”
Athan Iannucci was expected to be a big part of the club’s offence this season, but that never materialized when he didn’t report. Now Paul Rabil is being shopped around, with one source saying he was offered to Rochester in return for rookie forward Stephen Keogh in a deal the Knighthawks rejected.
If the Rush can add some additional scoring in a deal for Rabil before the deadline, great said Williams. But he’s not holding his breath.
“I’ll be honest — with the guys we have it should be getting done,” said Williams. “And I think it will get done. Lacrosse is about confidence. Maybe we’re just a little tight. Not sure what it is. When you’re not scoring and we’re losing, you can pick away at everything. You tend to overanalyze. Bottom line is we’re not scoring and we need to get it done. (The players in our dressing room) have been doing it all our lives. We just need to get it done and win. Doesn’t matter how.”
It would be understandable if the Rush were a fragile bunch at this point, frustrated by some close loses and shoved over the edge by a pair of defeats to the arch-rival Roughnecks over the weekend. However, in a league where eight of nine teams will make the playoffs, Williams said the club is still upbeat.
“There are moments of that frustration,” said Williams. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was some of that. We’ve been in a bunch of the games right down to the wire. But, to be honest, it’s really positive in there. Keenan has done a great job of, first off, having his composure and giving us the confidence. He has confidence in us and it’s just a matter of getting it done.”
Williams, himself, is still playing excellent lacrosse. He has been one of the Rush’s best offensive players this season and shares the team lead in scoring with six goals and 32 points (Shawn Evans has 16 goals and 32 points).
So, like fellow 1,000 pointers Doyle, Sanderson, Grant and the ageless Tavares, Williams should be adding to his career totals for quite a few more years to come.
“I’m having fun, I still feel good and I’m still doing what I need to out there and nobody is telling me different so I think I’ll just keep going until I can’t,” said Williams.
TWEET ‘O’ THE WEEK
Done first half of the season. Second half will be better, done playing on a team … Starting to fight for a family. @TheEdmontonRush –
Scott Evans is arguably the toughest forward in the league. He’s a fighter. He could go toe-to-toe with any player in the league. So it made no sense why he jumped Dane Dobbie late in the Rush loss to the Roughnecks Saturday night. Dobbie is not a fighter and Evans had to know Dobbie wouldn’t drop the mitts with him. Not surprisingly, Dobbie turtled and Evans got tossed from the game. If Evans’ intention was to send a message after his team was swept by the Roughnecks, he should have tossed the gloves with someone like Geoff Snider or maybe Scott Carnegie, whom he battled with all night. But Dobbie? Doesn’t send much of a message to me … Shawn Evans beat his brother Scott 2-0 on the weekend, but Scott outscored him with eight goals and 13 points to Shawn’s six goals and eight points. Don’t imagine Shawn minds losing that battle … Had to figure it would take Athan Iannucci awhile to shake off the rust, but no goals on eight shots Saturday night in Washington’s loss to Colorado was grim. However, he got on track with his first multi-goal game for the Stealth with a hat-trick as Washington won Game 2 of the back-to-back Sunday night. If the Stealth have any hope of making the playoffs, they will need consistent production like that from Nooch … One big change with the Flames taking over ownership of the Roughnecks is the multimedia now available on the team’s website. Fans can see full photo galleries after every game, video of player and coach interviews, the new Fifth Quarter with stats and trivia, along with the standard game story. As well, lots of activity on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re a Roughnecks fan — or NLL in general — this type of additional coverage is gold … Another three goals from Rush forward Zack Greer Saturday night. The guy has become a legit NLL scoring threat.
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