Powell makes city his new hometown

LumberJax forward came for business and found a perfect match
by: JIM CLARK, Ryan Powell led the Jax in scoring with 54 points, but the team regressed — going 4-12 for the year.

The Portland LumberJax brought Ryan Powell to town two years ago, and he plans to stay, thank you very much.

'I'm going to live here for good,' says Powell, the Jax leading scorer and native upstate New Yorker. 'It's a great change for me.

'It's the speed and the friendly people,' adds Powell, who lives in Laurelhurst and plans to get married in September. 'I'm the kind of guy who wants to talk with everybody when I go to the grocery store. And it's very outdoorsy here - I like to hike, golf, go to the beach. It seems like there's something new you can do every day of the week.'

Powell's second season with the Jax went well from a personal point of view, but not from a team perspective. He led the Jax in scoring with 23 goals and 31 assists for 54 points. But the Jax, a season after going 11-5 and winning the National Lacrosse League West Division, fell to 4-12 and were far out of the playoffs.

The Jax ended the season on a good note, scoring a 14-10 win over Edmonton Friday at the Rose Garden. Portland trailed 10-9 before ripping off five consecutive goals in maybe its best stretch of seven minutes all year.

It made Powell and some players ask, 'What if?'

'We've kind of been doing that all year - 'What's going on?' ' Powell says. 'We couldn't put our finger on it. Offensively, we clicked at times, but we had defensive letdowns - and vice versa.'

Derek Keenan, general manager and coach, wants to add an offensive player to boost scoring. Rookie Matt Holman came on with hat tricks in four consecutive games to end the season. He and Peter Morgan each had three goals against Edmonton.

In the offseason, the 29-year-old Powell works in marketing for equipment manufacturer Brine Lacrosse, does lacrosse camps with brothers Casey and Michael Powell and helps run Rhino Lacrosse Leagues here. This year, he expects to have as many as 1,000 local kids.

He also plays field lacrosse for the San Francisco Dragons. He earned his second Major League Lacrosse MVP honor last year, after an All-American career at Syracuse.

The indoor game requires excellent stick skills, quick decision-making and important off-the-ball movement, he says. Almost all the good players are Canadian; almost all the MLL players are American, with Jax defensemen Brodie Merrill one of the few Canadians talented enough to play both versions of lacrosse.

Although field lacrosse is 'the game I know,' Powell says, 'I think I'm getting better every year indoors. The next three or four years will be the prime of my indoor career.'

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Well, it's on to next year for the LumberJax, who scored an National Lacrosse League-low 153 goals.

• Colorado plays Arizona and Calgary faces San Jose in the West Division playoffs; the winners meet to earn the division's berth in the NLL finals.

• Del Halladay, 34, retired after last Friday's game. 'We had no idea,' owner Angela Batinovich says. Halladay says he decided at the start of the season to retire. He had 26 goals in 29 games for Portland and 218 goals in his 10-year NLL career.

• The announced crowd of 10,037 rocked the Rose Garden for last week's season finale. 'I can't wait until the day it's filled up and it really rocks,' forward Ryan Powell says.

• Derek Keenan, coach-general manager, on the 14-10 win over Edmonton: '(Players) did everything we asked them do. They followed the game plan. They played hard and with pride, and smart.'

- Jason Vondersmith