The 2012 season was a transition year for the Rock, as the first year of the post-Bob Watson era. As transition years go, finishing first in the East is probably a better result than fans had a right to expect. As the only East team that finished above .500 however, perhaps the Rock capitalized on weak years from the other East teams.
As it turned out, the Matt Roik era lasted just over 1/2 a season. I thought they gave up on Roik a little too quick, but I have to say I’ve been impressed with Nick Rose thus far. I’ve talked to a number of Rock fans who are concerned with the goalie situation for some reason, but Rose went 6-2 in a Rock uniform. The fact that Rose was both Goaltender of the Year and league MVP in the WLA this past summer may hopefully convince skeptical Rock fans that finding a “real” #1 goaltender is a problem that the Rock don’t really have.
A number of changes here and there but the core is the same. Gone are Glen Bryan and Bruce Codd, as well as backup goalie Pat Campbell. Former Bandits captain Chris White joins the defense and rookie Kyle Belton, who played forward during the Edmonton scrimmage and scored three goals, is listed as a defender. Zac Boychuk looks like the backup goaltender, and if you’re a Rock fan but not a WLA fan, you may be interested to know that the first-team and second-team WLA All Star goalies in 2012 were none other than Nick Rose and Zac Boychuk.
On the offense, Jamie Rooney was sent to the Bandits along with Bryan for draft picks. I liked Rooney – I thought he was a dynamic scorer and a welcome addition to the Toronto offense. The Rock also traded Aaron Pascas, who had a pretty good rookie season in 2011 but did not play in 2012. Dan Carey finally had to give into the concussion problems he’s been facing for several years and retire. It’s always unfortunate when a player has to end his career early because of injuries.
Shortly before training camp began, the Rock picked up Scott Evans, who was tossed onto the scrap heap by the Edmonton Rush after they benched him at the end of last season and throughout the playoffs. The message was clear – smarten up and don’t play selfish or you don’t play at all. Evans apparently didn’t get the message and showed up to camp out of shape. I did think at the end of last year that the Rock needed more grit and toughness which Evans can provide in spades, but I’m still not sure about this signing. If Evans does smarten up and provides some offense (and doesn’t expect to be the #1 forward – he’ll be #6 at best), it might be OK. But if he’s contributing two points and six penalty minutes per game, he’s not worth it. I’d keep Evans on a short leash. That said, he did score four goals in the Rock’s pre-season game in Montreal.
There’s been no word on the status of Phil Sanderson, who missed six games last season due to a concussion. There were rumours that his injury was career threatening though the Rock said back in November that he’s “expected to be ready for camp”. He did not play during the scrimmages with Edmonton or Rochester, and begins the season on the IR.
My burning question for the Rock concerns Nick Rose, but it’s not “Can Rose be the guy?” because I believe he can. Rock fans were lucky to have seen Bob Watson, possibly the best box lacrosse goalie ever, for so many years. The problem is that they got used to having him back there and now any goalie that plays for the Rock is compared to him. Having a goalie that’s not as good as Whipper isn’t a glaring weakness, it just puts the Rock on a par with other teams. The burning question: will Rock fans come to realize this and get behind Rosey?
Second in the east.
Who will protect us?
Pat Campbell retired, but
Scott Evans is here