By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/7/08
The Philadelphia Wings have opened the season with three straight wins, and this week the National Lacrosse League rewarded them for their fast start.
The Wings swept the NLL’s individual January honors as Athan Iannucci was named Player of the Month and Merrick Thomson was tabbed as Rookie of the Month.
Iannucci, a second-year forward, scored 14 goals and added seven assists while scooping up 32 loose balls in the three victories.
The 25-year-old graduate of Hofstra University currently is second in the league in goals even though the first and third top scorers have played in two more games. Iannucci also is second in the league with six power play goals.
Thomson, a first-round pick this year from the University of Albany who also plays forward, led all rookies with eight goals and nine assists during the month. He also had 11 loose balls to help the Wings to their fastest start since 1997.
“I am glad that Athan and Merrick are being recognized for their fine play in January,” said Wings coach Dave Huntley. “We look forward to even better things from both players the rest of this season.”
The Wings are gearing for their next game action on Friday, Feb. 15, when they face the Western Division leading Colorado Mammoth (4-0). The game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet at 10:30 p.m. Philadelphia is one-half behind front running Minnesota (4-0) in the East Division standings.
The Wings face the Minnesota Swarm in their next home game at Wachovia Center on Friday, Feb. 22, at 8 p.m.
Iannucci and Thomson were joined by four other Wings – forward Jake Bergey, transition player Geoff Snider, defender Taylor Wray and goalie Rob Blasdell – on the NLL East Division All-Star ballot released this week. The 2008 NLL All-Star game will be played March 16 in Edmonton, Alberta.
Fans will have the opportunity to help select the starting lineups for both the East and West division teams. Voting will take place at http://www.nll.com/community through Feb. 24. Fans may submit one ballot per day. The fans’ votes will be combined with those of league media and team General Managers and head coaches, with each counting for one-third of the total vote. The All-Star Game coaches will select all remaining players.
Bergey, in his 11th season with the Wings, currently ranks third in goal scoring in the National Lacrosse League with 12 goals. The Salisbury State product has recorded 17 total points (12G, 5A) in his first three games played in the 2008 season. Bergey scored the game-winning overtime goal in the Wings last home game versus the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday, January 26.
Snider was the Wings first pick (third overall) in the 2006 NLL Entry Draft. The 5-11, 200-pound transition player has eight points (2G, 6A) and has 30 groundballs. Snider has won 71 percent of his faceoffs this year.
Wray is in his fifth year out of Duke University. The 6-2, 230-pound defender has collected 27 loose balls. Blasdell is currently second in the NLL in wins with three and ranks sixth in the league in saves with 123. Blasdell was acquired from the Arizona Sting in the first round of the 2007 dispersal draft.