September 8, 2012

Team Canada Continues to Remember Sanderson

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Canada will play Saturday without its longtime goalie Chris Sanderson, who passed away in June. This weekend the team is raising awareness and funds for the Chris Sanderson Memorial Trust with special helmets and jerseys in his memory.
© Kevin P. Tucker

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It will be weird, Canada's national team director Dave Huntley said. Weird to not have Chris Sanderson between the pipes for Saturday night's "Duel in Denver" against Team USA. Weird to not hear the voice that veteran U.S. midfielder Matt Striebel so distinctly remembers from three World Championships worth of battles coming from the opposing cage.

"He was non-stop chatter, some good, most of it bad; the kind that gets in your head and stays there," Striebel said in the days after Sanderson's passing June 28.

Sanderson died at the age of 38 after a lengthy fight with brain cancer. His battle was well-documented online, as his wife Brogann and other members of the Sanderson family kept the world up-to-date on all the ups and downs since 2008, when Sanderson was initially given a timetable of 9 to 12 months to live. He fought back, all the way to the 2010 FIL World Championships, where he earned All-World honors for a third time in Canada's silver-medal effort.

But Sanderson's condition worsened and he underwent several brain surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and other treatments before passing this summer.

The team, and his country, doesn't forget him.

This weekend the 23 members of Team Canada are wearing special helmets and jerseys. In remembrance of Sanderson, each item has a maple leaf logo with the No. 17 inside, representing the jersey number Sanderson wore throughout his career.

When the game is over, the team is offering the helmets and jerseys for $1,700 to raise money for the Chris Sanderson Memorial Trust. Donations can be made by mail to the Guggenheim Partners, c/o Chris Sanderson Memorial Trust, 1045 First Ave., Suite 120, King of Prussia, Pa., 19406.

"A lot of people are asking to buy them so our goal is to sell the jerseys and helmets for 1,700 bucks each," Huntley said during Canada's practice Friday. "Our target is to raise some significant funds for that cause."

The trust aims to help Sanderson's family, including his wife and two daughters, and other families in similar situations that may need financial assistance in the future.

"Unfortunately, Chris passed away so we're going to use this as an opportunity to honor Chris," Huntley said. "We have his logo on helmets and jerseys and try to create some awareness for his trust to do something for his two young daughters and other people who are in a situation where you have a life-threatening illness. It definitely taxes people's resources."

In order to maximize the team's profit from the Duel, Canadian players have paid for their own travel expenses to Denver.

Between the pipes, Evan Kirk (Hobart/Rochester Knighthawks) and Angus Dineley (Canisius) will split halves Saturday. The pair backed up Sanderson at the 2010 World Championships in Manchester, England.

John Grant Jr.'s a Rocketman

Canada has Sir Elton John to thank for John Grant Jr.'s presence on Saturday night.

Grant, no stranger to playing multiple lacrosse games in consecutive days while balancing indoor and outdoor duties in the summer, is doing it once again.

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He led the Peterborough Lakers with seven points Friday night in a 13-12 loss to the Langley Thunder in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Mann Cup series in Peterborough, Ontario, near Toronto. He was to fly west into Denver on Saturday and play against Team USA before returning to Peterborough for Game 2 of the Mann Cup on Sunday. That's three games in just about 48 hours.

The only reason the Mann Cup wasn't being held Saturday night?

There's an Elton John concert is scheduled for Memorial Centre in Peterborough, taking away the Lakers' home venue. Saturday night may be all right for fighting, as John wrote in one of his famous songs, and the scheduling conflict is also all right for Canada's efforts in Denver.

"I wasn't an Elton John fan in high school. My girlfriend was, so I went to one concert," Huntley said, "but I'm more of an Elton John fan now."

Canada midfielder Jordan MacIntosh, also a member of the Lakers, will be making the same trip as Grant, who tweeted early Saturday morning, "Please, flight gods be good to me this weekend. #horribleluck #importantmatches."

Canada's Young Roster

Grant is one of only a few players on the roster from its 2010 World Championships team. Brodie Merrill, faceoff man Geoff Snider, midfielder Kevin Crowley and defender Matt Vinc, an indoor goalie for the NLL champion Rochester Knighthawks, are others.

The rest of the lineup is largely made up of players who have emerged on the college scene in recent years, (Crowley, Mark Matthews, Jordan McBride, Adam Jones, Curtis Dickson) or are still in college, such as rising sophomores Chad Tutton (North Carolina) and Wes Berg (Denver), who were members of Canada's U19 team that competed in July, and Jeremy Noble (Denver), Cam Flint (Denver) and Reid Acton (Loyola). See the full roster here. In comparison, Steele Stanwick is the youngest member of a veteran-heavy Team USA.

"We got like three dinosaurs and 20 young pups," Huntley said. "When [head coach Randy Mearns] thought about it, he said we have a lot of young players who are just getting into college. We had this in 2010 where a lot of guys were just emerging and they weren't quite there to be on that team. But since 2010, there's a lot more guys who have emerged. We just think we have a depth of young talent. We'll see whether we're right or not."

Check back to LaxMagazine.com throughout the weekend for coverage from the "Duel in Denver," including a live blog at 9 p.m. ET Saturday.


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