Grant Shines in 2012 Debut, 'Hawks Beat Nats 20-7
from press release
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - John Grant Jr. made a spectacular debut with the Chesapeake Bayhawks on Friday, piling up seven points on two goals and five assists to spearhead a 20-7 rout of the Hamilton Nationals at Ron Joyce Stadium in Canada. Midfielder Michael Kimmel put on a shooting clinic in totaling a game-high eight points for the Bayhawks, who raced out to a huge first-half lead and never looked back in improving their record to 3-1.
"Obviously, it was a great day for the Bayhawks. That is about as well as we have ever played," Chesapeake head coach Dave Cottle said. "Our guys started fast and finished strong."
Grant returned to his home country and showed the form that made him a two-time Major League Lacrosse Most Valuable Player by injecting life into an offense that was held to eight goals last weekend. The powerfully-built 6-foot-2, 225-pounder repeatedly beat defenders one-on-one to either score himself or set up others.
Grant came in with plenty of motivation as he played three seasons with the Nationals before being traded to Long Island. The Lizards subsequently released Grant after one season, who now has 293 career points in the MLL after Friday's effort.
"I dedicated myself in the winter to proving people wrong and I want to continue to do so this summer," said Grant, who set the National Lacrosse League record with 116 points this past indoor season. "I'm healthy, I feel good and I'm excited to do whatever I can to help this team win games."
Grant made his presence felt immediately in the weekday matinee (11 a.m. start) by scoring two goals and assisting three others to help stake Chesapeake to a 6-0 lead after one quarter. Long stick midfielder Dan Hostetler scored directly off the face-off just 15 seconds into the second quarter to make it 7-0.
"John Grant is one of the greatest players of all-time. You can see heads turning on defense whenever he has the ball," Kimmel said. "Junior makes the whole offense better because he demands so much attention."
Kimmel was on fire from start to finish and was named the Bud Light Most Valuable Player of the game. The former Johns Hopkins All-American consistently dodged down the alleys and fired crank shots past Hamilton goaltenders Scott Rodgers and Brett Queener. He finished with a career-high six goals, one of which was a 2-pointer, and an assist.
"I've been struggling with my shot a bit so it felt good to get it going," said Kimmel, who was using a new stick strung for him by Bayhawks practice squad player Chris Hunt. "I think sometimes teams don't expect me to shoot since we have so much great talent on the field. I think I caught (the Nationals) off guard and had a lucky day."
Kimmel had a hat trick by halftime as Chesapeake took a commanding 10-4 lead. Attackmen Drew Westervelt and Danny Glading scored goals a minute and a half apart early in the third quarter to increase the advantage to 12-4. The Bayhawks then poured it on down the stretch, outscoring the Nationals 8-1 to close the game.
"I thought our transition game was terrific. We did a great job of running from defense to offense," Cottle said. "We eliminated transition and we scored in transition, which is always a recipe for success."
Midfielder Ben Hunt had a hat trick while Westervelt contributed three points on a goal and two assists. Ben Rubeor made a smooth transition from attack to midfield with a goal and an assist, extending his point scoring streak to 20 games.
Kip Turner started in goal and was solid in his second game with the Bayhawks with eight saves. Adam Rand battled Matt Dolente to a virtual deadlock on face-offs, winning 13 of 29. Hostetler had a strong day working the wing on face-offs, scooping five ground balls and scoring two goals.
Close defenseman Nicky Polanco made his Bayhawks debut after being acquired from Long Island on Thursday via trade. Polanco enjoyed immediate chemistry with close friend and longtime teammate Brian Spallina as Chesapeake harassed Hamilton into 7-for-31 shooting and a slew of turnovers.
"What a difference Nicky made. He played Casey Powell and took the ball away from him on one of the first possessions. He communicated well, slid when necessary and got the ball off the ground," Cottle said. "We played very solid team defense today."
It was the final game in a Bayhawks uniform for long stick midfielder Bray Malphrus, who begins training next week with the United States Army. Malphrus played well in his finale, gobbling up three ground balls and delivering a huge hit that fired up the entire team.
"Bray is going to go serve our country and we wanted to send him off on a good note," Kimmel said.
Attackman Kevin Crowley had two goals and an assist to lead Hamilton (0-3). Long stick midfielder Brodie Merrill gobbled up eight ground balls to set the MLL all-time record in that category. The former Georgetown great now has 540 career ground balls, surpassing former Bayhawks face-off specialist Paul Cantabene (538).
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