The Major League Lacrosse 2012 All-Star game will pit the â€œYoung Gunsâ€ â€“players who joined the league from 2009-2012â€”against the â€œOld Schoolâ€â€”players who joined the league from 2001-2008.
Itâ€™s an interesting format that answers the age old question: who is better, the young guys or the older ones? The Old School team has all the familiar names from the past that everyone knows and loves but the Young Guns are the up and comers, the new torch bearers.
Looking at the Young Guns roster, there is quite a bit of talent here. There are plenty of surprises in terms of players that have come out of nowhere and have had incredible years, there is the ability to defend, the ability to score and plenty of athleticism to excite the fans.
Coach: Steve Duffy (Boston)
In All-Star games past one of the coaches chosen is that of the previous seasonâ€™s champion. The Boston Cannons won the league championship in 2011 but then-head coach Billy Daye retired. Duffy, his replacement and former assistant, will get the honor.
The first-year head coach has the Cannons tied for third in the league with a 5-3 record. The team has the most goals scored in the league.
â€œKnowing the guys, knowing the people, knowing the organization â€¦ itâ€™s definitely helpful,â€ Duffy said on a previous episode of Lacrosse Lounge. â€œI think my transition is easy because I worked in the organization.â€
Face-off: Matt Dolente (Hamilton)
In his second season Dolente has risen the ranks and is one of the top face-off guys in the league. He is fourth in the league in face-off wins (113) and, with players who have taken more than one face-off, is third in the league in winning percentage (59.2-percent), only a couple tenths of a percentage point behind All-Star Chris Eck.
Dolente is also third in the league in ground balls (48) and has three goals and two assists this season.
Goalies: Drew Adams (Long Island); Jordan Burke (Boston); Adam Ghitelman (Charlotte)
The Young Guns are loaded at goalie.
Adams is last seasonâ€™s Goalie of the Year and Burke was a tough-luck runner-up.
This season Burke leads the league in save-percentage, goals against average, minutes played and is tied for first in wins. Adams is tied for first in wins, is fifth in goals against average and fourth in save-percentage. His veteran leadership receives a lot of credit for the Lizardsâ€™ surprising rise to second in the league standings.
The league was unsure if Burke would be able to suit up in the game so Ghitelman was brought in as insurance. The Hounds goalie struggled early in the season but has settled in a bit. In his past two games he has played every minute and made 32 saves, including 15 big saves in their one-goal win last weekend.
Defense: Michael Evans (Chesapeake); Brian Farrell (Boston); Ryan Flanagan (Charlotte); Brian Karalunas (Long Island); Joel White (Rochester)
The Young Guns goalies are fantastic but theyâ€™ll have a solid defense in front of them.
Karalunas was the Defensive Player of the Week three games ago and is drawing rave reviews.
Flanagan, in his first season, is a big, 6-feet-6-inch defender that opened a lot of eyes the way he defended perennial All-Star and 2011 MLL MVP Paul Rabil when the Hounds played the Cannons in Week 2.
Farrell is a pole that can get up and down the field and score. Since coming into the league last season he has played 15 games. In that time he has nine goals and 13 points. White also has three goals and three assists this season in four games and six goals and nine assists over his two-season career.
Midfield: Steve DiNapoli (Rochester); David Earl (Hamilton); Ben Hunt (Chesapeake); Jovan Miller (Charlotte); Peet Poillon (Denver); Max Seibald (Long Island); Jeremy Sieverts (Denver); Mike Stone (Boston)
This group will be one to watch.
Seibald is the biggest name arguably on this team, and heâ€™s really lifted the play of the Lizards this season.
After not playing a single game last season, Sieverts was at one point early in the season the leagueâ€™s leading goal scorer. He has 16 goals in eight games and five of those are two-point goals. Heâ€™s seventh in the league with 25 points.
Poillon, his Outlaws teammate, has scored 11 goals in only five games this year. Stone has been a big contributor to a loaded Cannons offense, scoring 15 goals in eight games. Earl is another guy thatâ€™s showing he can score in the league, following up his 17-goal rookie season with eight so far this season.
Miller has been one of the leagueâ€™s most entertaining players this season with a fun-to-watch style of getting up and down the field and Hunt has 10 goals in five games this season.
Attack: Billy Bitter (Charlotte); Jim Connolly (Ohio); Matt Gibson (Long Island); Stephen Keogh (Hamilton)
Gibson has been the surprise player of the year so far in MLL. The first-year attackman has 10 goals and 10 assists this season and has won Rookie of the Week honors twice this season.
â€œWhen we had our draft no one was saying Matt would be the only rookie to make the All-Star team this year,â€ MLL Commissioner David Gross said on Lacrosse Lounge.
Keogh missed the first few games of the season because of his commitment to the NLL, but he returned with a bang, scoring four goals in his first game back. Heâ€™s scored multiple goals in all four of his games this season and has 13 goals total. He has average 4.25 points per game.
Connolly is second on the Machine in goals (13) and points (17). Bitter, the North Carolina alumnus, is also one of the more popular players in the league and has eight goals and four assists this season.