Usually my first Rock game report of the season contains talk of how either the Rock or their opponents (or frequently both) had some missed passes or defenders getting beaten easily or whatever because it’s early in the season. In this one, however, both the Rock and the Wings – particularly the goaltending – looked in mid-season form, as the Wings pulled off the last-minute comeback to win 8-7. The Rock have played two games already plus three scrimmages, and the Wings have played one plus two scrimmages, so I guess their lack of rustiness makes some sense. But now the team I picked to finish last in the league is 2-0. Not only that, but they were two solid victories – one where they dominated throughout, and one where their goalie kept them in the game and they came from behind with four straight goals to win it. I’m starting to wonder if this Philadelphia team may not be the dark horse in the East.
The Rock’s offense was a lot more aggressive than I’ve seen them in a while, and it showed on the scoresheet in terms of shots – they took 60 shots on Brandon Miller who was easily Philadelphia’s best player. They seemed to be trying a new strategy – a player doing the Gretzky thing, standing behind the net. The behind-the-net strategy seemed to work pretty well for the Wings, however, as they scored 3 of their 8 goals from behind the net, including the game-winner with 10 seconds left in the fourth.
With only four goals scored in the first half, it looked like we might be on the way to a scoring record. Bob Watson allowed only 2 Wings goals during a playoff game in 2000, while the lowest-scoring NLL game took place in Toronto in 2001, with Toronto defeating Albany 7-4. Watson’s record wasn’t really in much danger, and became safe 3 minutes into the third after the second of two consecutive “Air Gait” type goals by Brodie Merrill (who was on offense most of the night) and Drew Westervelt. The 7-4 score was reached halfway through the fourth when Colin Doyle scored his second of the night. Unfortunately for the home team, that was the last goal they’d score.
If the Rock had listened to me, the game might have ended differently. A number of times when the Rock were in close, they tried to score over Miller’s shoulder, and I don’t think it worked once. I tried to get them to shoot low and they eventually did – both of Doyle’s goals were low – but it was too late by then. I imagine I should have yelled “shoot low!” louder. Sorry Rock fans, my fault. (Yes, to the people who have actually played lacrosse before, I’m being totally facetious here. Coaching from the stands is much easier than coaching from the bench.)
This was a very entertaining game, and considering the other two games last night (Buffalo and Rochester trading leads for most of the game, Calgary and Colorado going to overtime), it’s obvious that the parity in the league is making for some very exiting lacrosse. And we still have 13 weeks to go! And then playoffs!
Other game notes:
- Both goalies were outstanding – Rose’s save percentage was 85.7% and Miller’s was an unbelievable 88.3%. Both defenses were very good as well.
- Toronto only won 4 faceoffs all night. Philadelphia won 15.
- At about 5:40 of the 2nd quarter, there was a scrum in the corner. The ref blew the whistle and awarded the Rock the ball. He then grabbed it, threw it in the air, and blew the whistle to start play, despite the fact that there was no Rock player there. The Wings grabbed the ball and took off. If you’re going to award the Rock the ball, shouldn’t you give the ball to a Rock player? I’ve seen refs do that when the team you’re giving the ball to is lollygagging or attempting to slow things down on the change, but that wasn’t the case here.
- Ethan Farrell was rather reminiscent of Tom Ryan with the long hair flying. His weren’t dreadlocks, but still.
- Jesse Gamble played a great game on defense and transition. Sandy Chapman isn’t the only “Charlie Hustle” on this team.
- Nick Rose is really good with outlet passes up the floor. He missed an open net goal by this much, and hit someone about 3/4 of the way down the floor with a perfect pass.
- I’m sure I’ve mentioned something like this before but when you’re the Rock PA guy and your team is losing with 10 seconds left in the 4th, perhaps the theme from Mission: Impossible is not the right song to play.