In last night’s Rock / Stealth matchup, we had a 1-6 team that has been struggling on offense all year, and a 4-3 team that’s contending for first place in their division. Strangely, each team looked like the other as the Stealth pulled out a 14-9 victory in Toronto. The Stealth scored early, taking a 1-0 lead a minute in, and the Rock were never really in it at all.
How bad was the Rock offense? Leblanc, Billings, and Sanderson had four points each. Nobody else on the Rock offense had a single point. Eight members of the defense / transition had a point each, and Pat Campbell got a point as well. At one point while the Rock were in the offensive zone I thought to myself “It’d be nice to get a short-handed goal here before this Stealth power play is over” and then realized that the Stealth weren’t on the power play at that point, it just seemed like it.
As for the Stealth, Dean Hill led the way with 5 points (2+3), Jeff Zywicki was welcomed back with open arms as he scored two and added two helpers, and Lewis Ratcliff had 2+2 as well. Athan Iannucci has now scored one goal and two assists in each of this three games as a member of the Stealth.
Kevin Croswell, who was just signed on Thursday and is so new to the Stealth that his jersey didn’t even have his name on it, was outstanding in goal. He made a number of excellent saves, though many of the Rock’s 50 shots hit him square in the chest. The Stealth defense, who I recently graded an F, was also excellent in preventing the Rock from getting many decent shots.
The Rock defense, on the other hand, allowed plenty of good shot opportunities, many of which were converted by the Stealth. Matt Roik started but was pulled early in the third. He wasn’t terrible but wasn’t great either, allowing 9 goals on 30 shots. Pat Campbell came in and allowed a fairly easy one within the first couple of minutes, but then settled down and only allowed 3 more. Campbell made some pretty impressive saves himself and stopped 22 of 26 shots, though he ended up getting tagged with the loss. Campbell is, shall we say, a very energetic goaltender, jumping and bouncing around like his pads were on fire. When he makes a save, he immediately passes the ball to someone, almost as if he’s panicking and wants to get rid of it as soon as possible. I’m sure there’s no panic involved, that’s just how it looked.
I tweeted during the game that the Stealth did not look like a 1-6 team, and they definitely did not look like a 1-6 team who were missing their top scorer and their #1 goalie. A little later, my friend Faisal said the same thing. Kudos to the Stealth for what was likely their best game of the season. All the ILIndoor people, all the In Lax We Trust people, and Jon Turner, and I (my picks) all picked the Rock to win this game, possibly the first unanimous game all season. People have been spouting the whole “any team can beat any other team on any given night” thing all season long, and I’ve been getting kind of tired of hearing it. But the fact that the Stealth won this game in such a convincing fashion proves that it’s true.
Other game notes:
- Damn, that Iannucci fella’s big. He looked like he was wearing football shoulder pads but I think he’s just that big.
- There was one fight, in the 2nd quarter between Cliff Smith and Rock newcomer Scott Johnston. It was pretty long but rather boring, with a lot of struggling but few punches thrown. I don’t remember who won since I kind of lost interest, and I’m not sure what triggered it either. At the time, I suspected it was just Johnston doing the “I’m the new guy, I need to make an impact” thing.
- I asked my friend Steve at halftime whether he thought it was the Rock offense that was so bad or the Stealth defense that was so good. His response: “Yes.”
- The Rock had at least three goals called back because of crease violations, which is not a complaint – the calls were correct. The Stealth had a couple called back as well, though Teddy Jenner and Rhys Duch (both watching on TV) said on twitter that these were bad calls. Not that this means they’re wrong, but they both do have a wee bit of a Stealth bias.
- Not everything was sucky for the Rock. Damon Edwards and Jesse Gamble both looked really good on transition, and Stephan Leblanc did have four goals, though I think he led the team in “shots that hit the goalie in the chest”.
- In the fourth, Campbell was hit by someone and fell while the Rock ran up the floor with the ball. It wasn’t that hard a hit and Campbell got up again. The ref then decided that for whatever reason the Stealth should have possession, and then Campbell fell back down again, apparently in pain. It really looked like Campbell waited until the possession call before deciding he was hurt, though it’s highly possible that he was not faking anything and the timing just make it look that way. The Rock were given an unsportsmanlike conduct bench minor (which was announced as simply “bench minor”) on the same play, so I have to wonder if the refs thought the same thing.