Game report: Toronto 12 @ Colorado 19

The Toronto Rock had some trouble getting to Colorado on Friday, after their flight to Denver was cancelled. After some scrambling, they managed to switch not only airlines but airports and made it on time. In retrospect, it might have been better if they hadn’t arrived at all. The Rock were smoked by the Mammoth 19-12 in a game the Rock were only really in for the first five minutes. Nick Rose did not have a great game at all, and Colorado was great in every aspect of the game. They were scoring, played great defense, had fantastic goaltending, and a loud crowd. Even the girls in the hot tub were great. Of course, they’d be great even if all they did was just sit there wearing bikinis with their feet in the hot tub. Which is all they did do. But they were great at it. I digress.

The game was broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network, with former MLL player Matt Damon Mikey “Don’t call me Mike” Powell doing the colour commentary and (I think) Jason Knapp doing play by play. Knapp was pretty good, though he made a few newbie mistakes, getting names wrong (“Jesse Campbell” instead of “Gamble”) and such. I’ve seen far worse watching the NLL on TV, believe me. But I thought Mikey Powell was very good. There were a few “um”s and “uh”s but for the most part, he sounded like a natural and obviously knows the game well enough. He’s been a big field lacrosse star for years but never played the indoor game, though his brothers (Ryan and former NLL MVP Casey) did. He did talk about the field and college experience of many of the players a lot more than was likely necessary, because that’s what he knows. Powell even explained why he never played the indoor game – he needs a lot of room to run around to play the way he does, and that’s just not possible in the indoor game because of the confined space. Makes sense, I guess. Still, you’d think with his level of skill, he’d be able to adapt pretty quickly and even if he couldn’t play exactly the same way as in field, he’d still be pretty good.

GrantDoyle

But back to the game itself. The Rock led off the scoring, with Stephan Leblanc scoring his first of four on the night only 22 seconds into the first quarter. Exactly four minutes later, it was 4-1 Mammoth. The Mammoth scoring their goals in bunches was a trend that would continue all night – they had streaks of 2, 3, 4, and 5 goals while the Rock scored two in a row only twice. There was only one case where the Rock scored two goals within two minutes, and in that case the Mammoth scored in between them. The Rock were desperately trying to get on a four- or five-goal run of their own, but Chris Levis was stellar in the Mammoth net and shut down any attempts at momentum. By the end of the game, it was obvious that the Rock were becoming desperate – a couple of times while shorthanded, they’d come rushing down on a possession change and try for a quick transition goal. Um guys? You’re killing a penalty, remember? Unless you have a breakaway or damned good transition chance, you want to take full advantage of your shot clock to kill time. Instead, the time they killed was the time it took to run down the floor and back. Some of the defensive players didn’t even have time to get off the floor.

So Nick Rose. What can I say about him? His first three games were great, though I wouldn’t say he was really tested much. In the Buffalo game he made some big saves, gave up some big rebounds and then made the second save as well, though I might have preferred that he not give up the big rebound in the first place. In Saturday’s game, there were few rebounds because most of the shots went in the first time. He couldn’t make the second big save because he didn’t make the first one. I do remember one great save with a big rebound, which someone (Lincoln?) easily grabbed and converted. He just didn’t seem to be seeing the ball very well at all. Rose was pulled in the first for Pat Campbell, who always makes me nervous when he plays. Not because I have no confidence in him, because I do, but because he makes seemingly routine saves look less routine. He seems to flop around and sweep his hand behind him and fall on the ball and such more often than many other goalies. But hey, if it gets the job done, go nuts. Rose was brought back in in the second and finished the game. He was actually starting to look pretty good in the third and fourth, and only allowed two goals in the fourth quarter. But it was a little late by that point.

It’s gotta be tough being Kasey Beirnes. First, you get pounded on a lot because you get into the corners digging for loose balls and setting picks for your teammates who score the big goals. Second, you’d likely be a top 3 or 4 scorer on half the teams in the league, but you end up behind the likes of Leblanc, Billings, Doyle, Sanderson, and Manning. Hey Kasey, just so’s ya know, you are appreciated.

There was an interesting play by Chris Levis – a Rock player ran around behind the net, and Levis left the crease to slam him into the boards. Levis’ helmet managed to get knocked off and luckily, he’s smart enough not to get back in front of the net without a helmet. This led to an easy Rock goal. The rule book says that:

When a player loses his helmet, the player must immediately either re-assemble his helmet while in the game or leave the floor. 

Levis did neither. He just stood behind the net, seemingly unsure what to do. I imagine he would have been given a penalty if he picked up the ball.

Other game notes:

  • At one point, Mac Allen was chirping at Colin Doyle, and Doyle cross-checked him across the chest a number of times. Allen never backed away and never stopped yelling at Doyle, who hit him a few more times. Eventually the two separated, but this was a smart play by Allen. Didn’t throw a punch or swing a stick, so there was no chance of his getting a penalty, but he almost forced Doyle to take one.
  • Gavin Prout ranks just above the Evans brothers for me. Great player, lots of skill, wouldn’t mind having him on our team (I guess), but he’s a bit of a prick. He scored a goal in the first to tie up the game, and then did this idiotic swagger behind the net. There are situations where I can see a player doing that – if he’s been frustrated all night and then scores a meaningful late goal perhaps, or if his team comes back from a huge deficit and has been listening to trash talk all game, but this was less than a minute into the first quarter.
  • When the Rock changed goalies, there were what sounded like chicken sounds being played over the PA. I’m all for fun jabs at the other team over the PA, but that seemed, I don’t know, less than classy somehow. Playing Yakety Sax while the Rock were on offense was pretty funny though. 
  • Colin Doyle tied Gary Gait on the all-time points list with 1165. Only 450 to go to catch John Tavares! Except JT is still playing. And has more points than Doyle this year.
  • What was with all the face-offs away from centre? Did the refs lose track of the ball that many times?

Other broadcast notes:

  • Mikey Powell did a little on-field demonstration of playing near the net – with a long cable trailing behind him. Surely CBS could have splurged for a wireless microphone.
  • “Prout, in his second year in a Mammoth uniform”. Yeah, in this go-round. You missed the six seasons he spent previously with the Mammoth.
  • They need to get rid of the little mini-interviews with players during play. Nobody is going to watch the interview rather than the game (listening to it would have been fine) so the little video window is not only useless but distracting and covered up part of the play. Also in most cases the player was out of breath anyway, and in at least one case (Sean Pollock in the first) it looked like the player would rather have been watching the play than just giving the standard “yeah, I scored a goal but we’re still looking for the W, that’s the main thing” answer.
  • Nick Rose was described as “he’s a stopper. He stops the ball.” As opposed to what? Maybe “stopper” is one form of goalie, while there are other forms, like a “power pitcher” vs. a “finesse pitcher” in baseball, but I’ve never heard this term.
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