ILIndoor Top 40: Athan Iannucci #22

Athan Iannucci, right, helped lead the Langley Thunder to their second straight Mann Cup appearance. (Photo: Dave Fryer)
Athan Iannucci, right, helped lead the Langley Thunder to their second straight Mann Cup appearance. (Photo: Dave Fryer)

Part of the problem … actually THE problem with scoring 71 goals in a National Lacrosse League season is the expectations that come with it. Athan Iannucci knows of this situation all too well. His 2008 season in Philadelphia was one for the record books and since, lots of people have been expecting him to do that again. Truth is, he hasn’t come close to doing that and that’s partly because of an injury that kept him sidelined for parts of 2009, all of 2010 and again for part of 2011. That doesn’t mean he’s lost is scoring touch. He showed as much with the NLL’s Washington Stealth last winter and the WLA’s Langley Thunder this summer.

The 2012 season for Iannucci consisted of just 11 games, but that was due to his holdout from the Edmonton Rush after he was traded there by the Philadelphia Wings. The Rush moved Nooch to the Stealth and he made his debut there on Feb. 18.

It was a slow start there and he didn’t record his first multiple-goal game until 5 games in but once he started, he rolled. He scored 21 points in his first 6 games, then carded 24 in his final 5 to average 4 points a game. That comes in just half a point lower than his career average of 4.6 per game. So yeah, the numbers were down a bit and yeah, the Stealth had a surprising struggle through the 2012 season, but his production, especially down the stretch has to be an encouraging sign heading into 2013.

This summer, Iannucci’s season in Langley mirrored what he did in 2011, finishing with 57 points (30-27) to lead the team in scoring for the second straight season. And for the second straight season, he was an offensive catalyst for a team that advanced to the Mann Cup finals. He dropped 22 points (14-8) in 9 WLA playoff games, then notched 28 points (15-13) in 6 Mann Cup games.

And as is usually the story with Iannucci, it’s not so much the number of goals he scores, it’s the type of goals he scores. He routinely draws the double, and triple teams, yet finds a way to slither through the coverage to get a look. And every once in a while, he pulls off a magic trick by freeing himself for a shot, even if it’s with one hand, when the situation looks to be impossible.

Like his game or not, it’s got to be respected because beneath that cool and calm demeanor burns a competitive fire that more often than not will beat you for a goal. The stick-slammed-to-the-floor-in-frustration kind of goal.

Fact: You know how coaches sometimes tell forwards to keep shooting? If you hear a coach saying that to Iannucci, he means it. Iannucci is a 22% career shooter (174-for-787) his NLL career.

Top 40 (last year’s rank in parenthesis)

No. 40: Jeff Gilbert (not ranked)
No. 39: Kevin Crowley (nr)
No. 38: Kevin Ross (nr)
No. 37: Adam Jones (nr)
No. 36: Jordan MacIntosh (nr)
No. 35: Paul Rabil (30)
No. 34: Tyler Richards (17)
No. 33: Scott Ranger (nr)
No. 32: Chris White (20)
No. 31: Sandy Chapman (15)
No. 30: Aaron Bold (nr)
No. 29: Jeff Moleski (10)
No. 28: Andrew Suitor
No. 27: Ryan Ward (nr)
No. 26: Dane Dobbie (25)
No. 25: Mike Carnegie (31)
No. 24: Stephan Leblanc (26)
No. 23: Josh Sanderson (7)

Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at bob.chavez@nllinsider.com or go to RochesterSports.com.

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