Game report: Toronto 10 @ Buffalo 14

I learned something about myself tonight while watching the Rock-Bandits game (in hi-def on TV, thanks TSN). I learned that I pay far too much attention to my twitter feed when watching lacrosse on TV. I missed more than one goal while reading or composing tweets so perhaps in future I might decide to shut down the ole Twitter app during the game. Apparently the Rock won, or maybe lost, I dunno. Luckily, I PVR’ed the game, so I can go back and watch the whole thing again. Hang on.

OK, so the Rock lost, in a couple of ways. Not only did they lose the game, 14-10 to the Buffalo Bandits, but they lost Blaine Manning early in the game to a broken collarbone. Post-game reports say that he’ll be out 6-8 weeks. Manning is the current Rock “iron man”, not having missed a single game since becoming a member of the Rock in 2002. This means that the next Rock game will be the first the Rock have played without Manning since the Championship game in 2001. Colin Doyle is the league’s Iron Man at 180-something games (and will tie Steve Toll for the all-time NLL record in the next game) but he played three years with San Jose.

Once again, the Rock offense was stagnant. Doyle scored 3 with singles scored by Carey, Billings, and Beirnes, but once again Stephan Leblanc, who has been amazing in his first two years in the league, was nowhere to be found. After two games, he has still yet to score. Dan Carey’s goal in the second came after a very nice behind-the-back pass from Josh Sanderson, but I think Sanderson got it in his head that he’s really good at that, and he attempted a number of behind-the-back passes and shots over the rest of the game. He finished with no goals and 3 assists, so I’ll let you be the judge of how well that turned out. Carey looked a little lost in his first game, but looked pretty good in this one. One of my concerns with Carey because of his concussion history was that he’d be reluctant to get into the corners, digging for loose balls. You can hardly blame him after what’s happened to people like Ken Montour and Merrick Thomson and Sidney Crosby, so it was nice to see him in there working hard for the loosies.

The defense fared almost as well as the offense in terms of goal-scoring. The Rock had four goals from defenders – two from newcomer Bill Greer, and one each from Sandy Chapman and Glen Bryan. Chapman, Stephen Hoar, and Phil Sanderson scored in the first game, so right now Chapman has as many goals (2) as Josh Sanderson (1), Blaine Manning (1), and Stephen Leblanc (0) combined.

I tweeted during the game that the Rock’s practice nets must be a touch bigger than the ones they were using in Buffalo. Shots on net were going high all night long. Maybe there was a scouting report that going high was the way to beat Mike Thompson. Actually, in the game against Calgary, that looked like the way to beat Matt Roik. It didn’t work against Thompson, but then again, not much did. Thompson was outstanding, and stopped more than one shot from point-blank range. In at least one case, the Rock forward was standing just behind the crease line, all by himself, for at least three seconds, trying to decide where to shoot. Three seconds may not seem like much, but when you’re a goalie about to face a shot from that close, three seconds is an eternity. The Rock shooter feinted shooting low, waited for Thompson to drop, and then shot high but Thompson waited him out and make an amazing stop.

In my picks for last week, I called a close game won by the Rock, and I was mostly right. Except that the Rock lost. And it wasn’t all that close at the end. I also said that I didn’t know who was going to score for the Mammoth, who scored 20, though I got the outcome right. And I said that Brodie Merrill and the Wings defense wouldn’t let the Rochester forwards get that many shots on Brandon Miller. I was kind of right there in that they only got 32 shots on Miller, but there was also the 26 shots on Wagar. I got the Calgary game right as well, making me 2-2 on the weekend and 2-3 overall.

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