Mueller warms to task of helping boost Thunder

January 06, 1995|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

Adam Mueller didn't want to be left out in the cold. He was

looking for a Major Indoor Lacrosse League franchise to welcome him in.

After being informed by letter in late August that his team, the Detroit Turbos, was folding, Mueller, who lives in Chicago, got on the telephone and began his effort to catch on with one of the six MILL teams.

One of Mueller's first calls went to Baltimore Thunder coach Skip Lichtfuss, who invited the five-year veteran to a tryout camp at Du Burns Arena.

"It wasn't really a tryout, because I've seen him play for five years in the league and I knew what he could do," Lichtfuss said. "I just wanted to take a look, confirm his capabilities and see what kind of person he was."

What Lichtfuss saw, he liked. That's why Mueller, who was shunned by the Buffalo Bandits and the Rochester Knighthawks in the dispersal draft, is expected to be in Baltimore's starting lineup when the Thunder opens its season at 8 tomorrow night at the Baltimore Arena against the Boston Blazers.

"It couldn't have worked out any better; he's an absolute perfect fit for us," said Baltimore's second-year coach. "[Rochester and Buffalo] left him out in the cold and he was basically left to cut a deal on his own.

"When I heard he was available, I jumped on it right away because I know what kind of player he is. He's a great kid with an intense desire to play."

That "intense desire" is evidenced by Mueller's willingness to pay his own expenses in commuting to Baltimore from his home in the Windy City. The 28-year-old graduate of Michigan State, who operates a catering business in Chicago for his main source of income, has already made the 2 1/2 -hour flight from O'Hare Airport to BWI a few times during the preseason.

"I used to have to fly two hours to Detroit for practice and games and Baltimore is only a half hour or 45 minutes longer in the air, so it's no big deal," said Mueller, who had four goals and 13 assists last year.

"I didn't really know if I had a shot to play down here because Baltimore has some of the best American field players in the world. But, the players have all been great. I've played against most of them for a number of years and they know what I can do and what I can add to the team."

What Mueller adds to the Thunder is a left-handed player with size -- 6 feet 2, 215 pounds -- and an acute knowledge of the indoor game. Mueller should fit right in running on a Thunder line that includes off-season acquisitions Mark Millon (New York) and Rob Shek (Philadelphia), plus Baltimore's leading scorer last season in Lindsay Dixon (13 goals, 11 assists).

"My team in Detroit was 80 percent Canadians, so it was a great place to learn the game," said Mueller, a native of North Brunswick, N.J. "I had fun playing for Detroit, but I'm looking forward to playing for Baltimore.

"Baltimore teams always have a tremendous amount of athletic ability, and now they finally have a base of guys who are getting the indoor style down more and more."

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