ILIndoor Top 40: Honorable mention

Buffalo's Billy Dee Smith, left, was back at it on defense after missing the 2011 season. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)
Buffalo's Billy Dee Smith, left, was back at it on defense after missing the 2011 season. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)

We’re so close to the top 6 of ILIndoor’s annual countdown of the top players in lacrosse. So we decided to take a little breather before we unveil the final 6. What we offer today is a list of honorable mention candidates, those who just missed the cut for the Top 40. A couple are here because they didn’t play much, or at all, last season, but still deserve a nod for the greatness they bring to the game. It’s all subjective, we get that. How do you quantify greatness? Some guys simply bring more than others, be it in overall numbers or in crunch time under pressure. Still others are harder to gauge because their position doesn’t produce the sexy stats we all love to break down. So before we come back on Tuesday with the top 6 players, let’s take a look at the players who are worthy of an honorable mention.

Washington Stealth defender Mike Grimes (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) is a Peterborough lad known for his toughness and feisty physicality from the back end. He’s got a bit of an offensive touch if he finds himself in that situation, but he’s paid to defend turf and he earns every penny … Fellow Stealth defender Kyle Sorensen (6-2, 220) is similar to Grimes in size and place of origin, but Sorensen is known more for his bruising defense and aggressive pace rather than any sort of scoring ability. He’s battled injuries the past 2 seasons and that’s limited his effectiveness for the Stealth, but he was healthy enough to help the Peterborough Lakers win the Mann Cup in September …

Andrew Watt
Andrew Watt

Minnesota Swarm transition man Andrew Watt hails from Kitchener, Ont., and although the Swarm have a few guys on the run between the zones, Watt’s been among the steadiest when it comes to putting the ball on the floor and getting it out of the defensive end. His 21 forced turnovers were third-best on the team and like Sorensen was part of a defensive unit that won a Mann Cup in Peterborough … Calgary Roughnecks defender Curtis Manning was an all-around terror for the Riggers in the back end dropping 14 points (5-9) and using his 6-4, 205-pound frame to clear the way for 84 loose balls after forcing 13 turnovers for the team with the best record in the NLL’s regular season. Coaches speak glowingly of his composed game and approach, which makes him one of the game’s most steady defenders …

Brett Mydske
Brett Mydske

Edmonton Rush forward Corey Small (5-9, 180) isn’t the biggest man on the floor, but been right around the 20-goal mark in each of his 3 NLL seasons and his 80 points (42-38) last summer for Victoria was enough to finish second in the WLA scoring race. His crafty work on the right side gives the Rush a legit scoring threat every time the ball’s in his stick … At 6-4, 205, Edmonton Rush defender Brett Mydske has a reach that goes from wall to wall in a hurry and he’s one of the game’s most underrated defenders. He doesn’t put up the numbers fellow Rush defenders do, but he’s a big part of the defense that Edmonton is well-known for and he’s been a vital cog of the Langley Thunder defense that has been to 2 straight Mann Cup tournaments … And while we’re on the topic of the Rush defense, how important is Chris Corbeil? Very. Built much like Mydske at 6-2, 188, Corbeil brings a nastiness to the back end and he showed a ton of heart last season in taking on Buffalo heavyweight Brandon Francis in defense of a shot to Jimmy Quinlan. Corbeil left the floor tasting his own blood from a cut to the face, but he solidified himself as a fearless defender both on and off the ball …

His 0-7 playoff record isn’t all his fault, but that’s what is on the stat sheet for Buffalo Bandits goalie Anthony Cosmo. He’s definitely one of the best in the game and if it weren’t for tough luck in the postseason, he’d have no luck at all. And even in limited time with MSL’s Brampton over the summer, he posted a sparkling 7.23 goals-against average with a save percentage coming in at .771 … Buffalo Bandits defender Billy Dee Smith is the epitome of Bandits abrasiveness and he’s long been considered one of the best in the game. A knee injury cost him the 2011 season and the 6-3, 195-pounder was back in 2012, wrecking foes …

Craig Point
Craig Point

Rochester Knighthawks forward Craig Point doesn’t post the biggest stats across the board, but we here at ILIndoor love his game. He does it all and he does it well. Injuries last year limited him to just 7 games, but he dropped 24 points (10-14) in those games and was all over the floor scooping loosies and winning faceoffs for the champs. Over the summer, he did much of the same for Six Nations in helping the Chiefs to a 9-4-1 record, one of their best summer showings in years … Knighthawks forward Casey Powell didn’t play at all last season, but when you’ve scored 80-plus points in each of the last 5 seasons you’ve played, it can’t be ignored … Another Knighthawks forward, Cory Vitarelli, isn’t exactly piling up the numbers but he has a knack for timely goals. His 29 goals (at a shooting percentage of 31%) was second-best on the team and he did much the same work for Peterborough. He didn’t lead the team in scoring, but provided valuable depth and timely goals to help the Lakers win a Mann Cup …

Pity Toronto Rock forward Blaine Manning, whose 177 consecutive games streak came to an end early in the season with a broken collarbone. Manning is back this season and there’s no reason to think he won’t be back to the form that’s produced 70 or more points in 9 of his previous 10 seasons … Last season was a bit of a roller coaster for new Toronto Rock forward Scott Evans, who started the season in Edmonton but ended it on Edmonton’s healthy scratch list. All that’s behind him now, though, and the stud right-hander from Peterborough could have resources he needs to return to his All-Star form of 2007 and 2008. And if it’s not that form, the Rock will be happy enough if he contributes like he did last summer in helping Peterborough win the Mann Cup …

Max Seibald
Max Seibald

In Philadelphia, right-handed forward Drew Westervelt doesn’t get a lot of praise, although he should. The 6-5, 238-pounder out of Bel Air, Md., has been one of the more steady Americans to be playing the game and last season was no different. His 36 goals tied for the team lead he plays each game like it’s his last, not afraid of getting dirty down low and using his frame to create space … When lacrosse is referred to as the fastest game on two feet, refer the doubters to Max Seibald. The Philadelphia Wings transition man, out of Hewlett, N.Y., brings an energy that’s unmatched as he zips around the rug hounding foes. His 16 forced turnovers last season tied for second-best on the team and his 77 loosies were right up there as well … Another Philadelphia forward, Brendan Mundorf, charted a career-best 68 points (28-40) last season and we’d say here’s an American who has started to learn the finer points of the indoor game but we’ll have to wait until March to find out for sure. That’s when the Wings hope he’ll be back from surgery for an ankle injury suffered in the Major League Lacrosse season …

Colorado Mammoth defender Mac Allen had but 3 games last year to show his wares as he rehabbed an injured knee. He was back in time to play 3 games for the Mammoth but all indications are he’s healthy as he played a big role on the defense that won a Mann Cup last summer in Peterborough … For so long, Mammoth defender Rory Smith was looked as a fighter, nothing more. That changed last season when Smith didn’t drop the gloves once and was a mid-season All-Star for the Mammoth. His 22 forced turnovers led the team and in the summer, he was part of a Six Nations defense that helped the Chiefs reach the MSL finals for the first time since 1996.

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)
No. 22: Athan Iannucci (16)
No. 21: Mike Poulin (nr)
No. 20: Gavin Prout (22)
No. 19: Colin Doyle (5)
No. 18: Shawn Evans (33)
No. 17: Geoff Snider (18)
No. 16: Ryan Benesch (13)
No. 15: Brodie Merrill (8)
No. 14: Jeff Shattler (14)
No. 13: Shawn Williams (12)
No. 12: Lewis Ratcliff (6)
No. 11: Kyle Rubisch (24)
No. 10 through 7 (recap)
No. 10: Callum Crawford
No. 9: John Tavares
No. 8: Mark Steenhuis
No. 7: Cody Jamieson

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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