Game report: Rochester 17 @ Toronto 12

If anyone knows what John Lovell said to the Toronto Rock at halftime of Saturday night’s game, please don’t tell me. If I hear it, I might just lay down and have a nap, ignoring whatever task I’m in the middle of.

The Rock started strong, scoring six goals on their first seven shots and chasing Matt Vinc from the Knighthawks net early in the second quarter. I know, right? They chased Matt Vinc! Doyle had a hat-trick, Billings and Hellyer had a couple each, and Leblanc had one – and this is only 4½ minutes into the second quarter. Rochester had their chances as well, but Nick Rose was solid in the first half – better than solid, actually, he was really good. The Knighthawks scattered five goals throughout the first half, while the Rock scored eight on Vinc, though they only scored one after backup Angus Goodleaf was brought in. Toronto was definitely in control at the half, leading 9-5.

And then came The Speech. Maybe it was something like “Well, this game’s over boys, we don’t need to try so hard in the second half” and everybody on the Rock’s veteran-laden team bought that. Maybe it was something like “I feel sorry for those poor Knighthawks. Maybe we should let them back in the game to make them feel better!” Or perhaps it was an early April Fool’s joke and the two teams switched uniforms.

Whatever happened, it was bad. The second half of this game might have been the worst half of lacrosse the team has played all season. Rochester had scored the last goal of the second quarter and then scored the next seven goals to turn a 9-4 Rock lead into a 12-9 Knighthawks lead. Finally Garrett Billings scored, 16 minutes after the Rock’s last goal, to break the streak but the Hawks just started a new one, scoring the next five and putting the game out of reach. In the end, Rochester outscored the Rock 12-3 in the second half. The Nick Rose from the first half was nowhere to be seen, which led to a couple of goalie changes, with Steve Fryer making his Rock debut. Rose was brought back in later, but then was pulled a second time. The offense couldn’t get anything going, and they seemed to go from “Hey, we should really start scoring a few here or we’ll run out of time for the comeback” to full-on panic “Shoot as soon as you get the ball and maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll go in!” mode in no time flat. The second half collapse wasn’t entirely the fault of goaltending though, there were a number of defensive breakdowns that resulted in some Knighthawk player by himself with the ball on the edge of the crease and a few seconds to decide where to put it. Regardless of who the goalie is or how he’s playing, the majority of those are going in.

Just two days after the @NLLFactOfTheDay was about Angus Goodleaf, he came in and played an outstanding game. When he came out to start the third and fourth quarters, I was a little surprised that they didn’t go back to Vinc, but the way Goodleaf was playing there was really no point in putting Vinc back in. When you can keep the Rock offense to four goals in forty minutes, I don’t care how many Goalie of the Year awards the other guy has, you are staying in the net. FYI Goodleaf is no longer the league’s GAA leader – that would be Brodie MacDonald with 5.37, while Goodleaf has 5.41. Goodleaf is still the league’s save % leader at 87.2%. He’s also played over 55 minutes this season, over ten times what he played last year.

Other game notes:

  • Jesse Gamble and Scott Self were in a “fight” in the first quarter. I put “fight” in quotes because it took them long enough to get each other’s helmets off so that they could fight, it looked like they were too tired to continue. I’m not sure Self actually threw any punches, and Gamble might have thrown a couple.
  • Just look at this Colin Doyle spin-o-rama goal. Just look at it. This is the last goal that Vinc allowed.
  • Cody Jamieson gets credit for this goal but just watch the play that birthday boy Johnny Powless makes to set it up. Powless has played 2½ seasons and has won two Championships and he just turned 21.
  • Near the end of the game, some clearly drunk Rock fan (in a Chicago Shamrox jersey) started chirping to the Knighthawks players in the penalty box and then started making rude gestures to them, even grabbing the plexiglass between him and them and almost pulling it down. He was thrown out but as he left, he started waving to the fans and they cheered him. Why? Why does this idiot deserve cheering? Why aren’t we embarrassed?
  • No announcement was made at the game, but Dan Dawson netted his 1000th career point in this game. Congrats to one of the best scorers in league history and a slam-dunk Hall of Famer once he retires. He’s still playing at an awfully high level though, so retirement could still be (and hopefully will be) many years away.
  • I asked on twitter whether the momentum had shifted in the second half, but got conflicting answers:

Momentum Shift

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