Game report: Georgia 11 @ Toronto 8

It started off so promising.

The Rock and Swarm played each other twice this season. Each team was 1-1 and both games went to OT, so we knew the teams were pretty evenly matched. So when the Rock didn’t allow a goal to the strongest offense in the league until six minutes into the second quarter, it seemed like the Rock’s ability to handle the Swarm offense was going to continue. They only scored one goal themselves in the first quarter, but when they took a 4-1 lead in the second quarter, it still looked pretty good. And then the wheels kind of slowly fell off.

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Game report: New England 10 @ Toronto 18

The Rock hosted the New England Black Wolves on Saturday night for the right to lose to play the Georgia Swarm in the division finals. In the lowest-attended Rock home game ever, the Rock fought off the strong Black Wolves attack in the first quarter and turned a close game into a blowout.

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Game report: Buffalo 13 @ Toronto 8

We’ve all seen it before: the team that isn’t playing well starts getting frustrated and angry, and that leads to unnecessary penalties. That means they’re playing a man down for long stretches of time, and that doesn’t usually lead to anything good, so they get even more frustrated and angry, and so on. I don’t know what other people mean when they talk about “Banditball”, but that’s what that term means to me: the physical and undisciplined lacrosse that the Bandits became known for in the 2000’s. They generally don’t play that way anymore so the term is probably misleading and unfair now, but every now and again they revert back. But on this night, it seemed to serve them well.

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Game report: Colorado 14 @ Toronto 11

Let’s see… entertaining game? Check. Home team played pretty well but lost? Check. In front of not very many fans? Check. Did I move to Vancouver without knowing it?

Awesome

  • I liked the Rock’s green St. Paddy’s Day jerseys. Not sure about the gold helmets.
  • The Mammoth offense in general was great and scored a bunch of beautiful goals. Callum Crawford in particular scored a couple of nice ones. He tried at least two “face the other way, jump, spin, and shoot while still in the air” shots, and one of them worked.
  • Early in the game, Eli McLaughlin found himself with the ball right on the edge of the crease. He faked low, waited for Rose to drop, and tossed it over him. Smart play. Then late in the second quarter, Stephen Keogh did almost the same thing, but from a little further out. He faked the underhand shot (pictured below but from a different game), causing Rose to drop again, then scored over Rose’s shoulder.
  • Later on, Keogh picked up the ball in the Rock zone and was immediately triple-teamed by Rock defenders. A few seconds later, a fourth Rock defender joined the fray, but Keogh kept the ball for at least ten seconds. He even managed to get a half-decent shot off but missed the net. It looked like he was killing a penalty but he wasn’t. Given the amount of work he put in, I almost wanted him to score. I heard other Rock fans applauding him too as he returned to the bench.

Stephen Keogh

Not awesome

  • Kieran McArdle scratched again. I thought he’s played well enough recently to stay in the lineup, so perhaps he had work commitments or something.
  • Only 8597 at this game. Only ten Rock home games ever have had lower attendance, and three of those have been this season.
  • The Mammoth defense did a great job containing Tom Schreiber. He had nothing to shoot at all night. I put this under “not awesome” because I’m a Rock fan, but if I were a Mammoth fan, I’d have put it under “awesome”.

Other game notes

  • The Rock brought out a pipe band to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, a day where we celebrate Ireland. What song do they play as the enter the arena? Scotland the Brave.
  • There’s a big gap between the Watson and Doyle banners at the ACC. Just enough room for a third that says Veltman.
  • In the fourth quarter, I tweeted the Mammoth, asking if they wouldn’t mind not scoring because the Rock were trying to tie the game. They responded by hitting the post twice on empty nets. Thanks for trying!
  • Callum Crawford is becoming one of my favourite players because he’s so dynamic. He’s a great passer but can also shoot from anywhere – inside, outside, in close, from distance, even from above the goalie when he does his signature “leap in the air and then bounce it five hole from twelve feet up” move. I’m also a big Stephen Keogh fan. And Joey Cupido. And Ilija Gajic. And Dillon Ward. And Alex Buque. And… Hold on… am I becoming a Mammoth fan?

Game report: Calgary 10 @ Toronto 16

On a night where the Toronto Rock celebrated Colin Doyle’s contributions to the team and honoured him by raising his jersey to the rafters of the ACC, it would have been fitting for the Rock to win the game by scoring a beautiful late clutch goal since that’s something that Doyle was known for. But they didn’t. The Roughnecks probably wouldn’t have played along and nobody on the Rock wanted to take the chance that Calgary would score the clutch goal and win. Losing on Colin Doyle night wasn’t an option, so the Rock just decide to score a bunch of goals and take the clutch-ness out of it entirely.

The ceremony to honour Doyle was well done. It wasn’t a quick “let’s get this over with” thing, but it didn’t drag on for ages either. Jamie Dawick spoke briefly about what Doyle has meant to the Rock, even long before Dawick himself arrived. Then they showed a video of some of Doyle’s best moments, a bunch of shots of him holding the Champion’s Cup, a listing of his accomplishments, and some interviews with current and former teammates and coaches. The man himself stepped up and talked for a few minutes, and was just as classy and well-spoken as you’d expect from Doyle. He thanked a bunch of people including Dawick, former Rock owners Bill and Brad Watters, all of his teammates and coaches (collectively), the Rock trainers and doctors, the fans, and his family. He also singled out a few people who are no longer with us: Terry Sanderson, Chris Hall, and Les Bartley.

ColinDoyle

If you weren’t at the ACC or watching on the live stream, head over to nlltv.com and check out the video. During his speech, one of Doyle’s daughters (cute-as-a-button 6-year-old London) noticed that she was on the Jumbotron while daddy was talking, and started to ham it up a little, dancing around, bowing and curtseying. She stole everyone’s attention away before Doyle noticed and said “Don’t encourage her!” but how could you not?

Former Maple Leaf captain Wendel Clark was also there, and helped carry the banner out before it was raised. I thought it was a little strange that he didn’t speak at all but I’m sure it was a case of “they didn’t come to see me, they came to see him“. These classy Toronto team captains stick together.

On to the game:

Awesome

  • Latrell Harris, Billy Hostrawser, Sandy Chapman, Challen Rogers. These guys were everywhere and did a great job of getting in the way of the Calgary offense.
  • I feel like I should apologize to Billy Hostrawser. I’ve been hard on him in previous years for taking dumb penalties, and even implied that his only reason for being on the floor was to fight. But he’s turned into a damn fine defender.
  • Another seven points from Tom Schreiber, who even made a couple of great defensive plays as well. Turns out the MLL MVP is a pretty good lacrosse player.

Not Awesome

  • Refereeing. I rarely call out refs because they have a very difficult and thankless job. But the whistles were out in full force in this one. If you looked at someone the wrong way, you were in the box. There was a slashing call on McArdle in the first which was not a slash. Hostrawser was called for an illegal body check that looked totally legal to me. Scott Carnegie was given a major for an illegal body check that may have been a minor but I don’t think it was a major. Carnegie also got called for tripping which was a total accident. Gamble, checking from behind. Bell, slashing. Reinholdt, slashing. It just didn’t stop. Then in the middle of the fourth, a Calgary player gave a Rock player a blatant cross check across the back just after he’d passed the ball. No call. The mind, she is boggled.
  • Latrell Harris got another breakaway but couldn’t bury it. I think he’s 1 for at least 5 on such breakaways this year. But his defense is good enough that it’s not a big deal.
  • The Rock only allowed a single goal in the first half. Then they allowed NINE in the second half. Luckily the Rock offense didn’t take any time off so it wasn’t a big problem but allowing nine goals in a half is a bit concerning.

Only one other game note:

The Rock’s seventh goal was challenged because it appeared that the goal went in after the shot clock expired. The review was inconclusive. It seemed to me at the time that the order of events was:

  1. Rock player shoots, hits defender
  2. McArdle picks up ball, shoots
  3. Shot clock whistle sounds
  4. Ball enters net
  5. Ref signals good goal

I can’t say for sure that that’s what happened, but that’s how it looked to me. I looked over the replay on nlltv.com but the shot clock was not shown on the screen and I couldn’t hear the shot clock whistle at all, so that doesn’t clear anything up. The ref who reviewed the goal checked all of the replay views and none of them showed the shot clock either so he had no way to confirm Calgary’s suspicions. It should be technically possible to embed the shot clock and game clock time in the video itself so that either all shots from all angles have the clock displayed on the screen, or there’s some other way to determine the time from the video. This is not a small project though.

As my wife said following the game, it wasn’t as much of a blowout as it could have been, but it wasn’t really a close game either. We all know that Calgary has the offensive ability to make up 4 or 5 goals in no time flat, and in the second half they proved they could score a bunch to make it close, but on this night the Rock offense was just a little bit better.

Game report: New England 10 @ Toronto 9 (OT)

Another exciting, down to the wire, overtime game, just like the last home game. But ultimately another loss, just like the last home game.

Awesome

  • Latrell Harris had another strong game. That guy impresses me more and more every game. The PA guy on Friday night called him “Kid Rock 2.0”, which I kind of like. (Kim Squire, who also wore #93, was known as Kid Rock in the early 2000’s).
  • Joel Coyle took two penalties in the first quarter, but stayed in the penalty box a total of 22 seconds because the Rock scored on the PP right away in both cases.
  • After Brett Hickey’s goal to put the Rock ahead early in the fourth, he gave spirited, almost violent, high fives to everyone on his way back to the bench. I love to see that level of intensity. But Hickey’s a strong guy – I’d hate to see some Rock player miss a few weeks because a Brett Hickey goal celebration dislocated his shoulder.
  • New England defense and Evan Kirk. Most Rock possessions lasted either 5 seconds because someone would shoot right away or 29 seconds because they’d shoot just before the shot clock expired. The Black Wolves D just wouldn’t let them get any good looks at the net. And when they did, Kirk was there to stop them.

Jay Thorimbert

Not awesome

  • Nick Rose. He wasn’t terrible – only allowing 10 goals in 60+ minutes ain’t bad – but he didn’t seem to be seeing the ball terribly well. I think two of the first three shots he faced beat him, but one rolled wide by a few inches and he turned around in time to stop the other one. Another time he dropped to his knees thinking the shot was going low but it went high, and luckily hit his shoulder and stayed out. A few other times were similar but he wasn’t so lucky and they went in. Once or twice we saw him sliding to his right when the shot went in to his left. That said, a couple of Kevin Buchanan’s goals were just lasers into a corner, and there’s nothing Rose could do about those.
  • Black Wolves shooters. I can’t count the number of times they shot and missed the net entirely. Sometimes it was because they were stick-checked while shooting, but not always. Sometimes, a lot of times actually, they just missed.
  • Only 8477 at this game. I really hope there are a ton of people at the next home game, where they’ll be raising Colin Doyle’s jersey to the rafters. Doyle deserves that.
  • Speaking of former Rock captains deserving to be honoured, it’s time for Jim Veltman’s #32 to be raised as well. I know Veltman and Jamie Dawick had issues (mainly financial, I believe) after Veltman retired, but that was years ago. Move on and do the right thing.
  • The people behind us who laughed at Brett Bucktooth’s name when it was announced after a penalty. Disrespectful.
  • Speaking of disrespectful, people who boo the refs when they make a correct call if it goes against the Rock. I don’t like it any more than you do, but the Rock goal in OT should not have counted. Disallowing the goal was the right call and the video replay made that clear, so booing the refs makes no sense.

Other game notes

  • My friend Mike pointed out that there were no moving picks called the entire game. But there were a lot of possession changes (on both sides) due to players running through the crease.
  • I wasn’t sure whether this was awesome or not. Phil Caputo and Sheldon Burns had a short but intense fight and immediately were sent to the penalty box. Burns got to his box first and while Caputo was walking by, Burns reached out for a fist bump, which Caputo gave him. I like the fact that lacrosse players will fight each other during the game and then show respect by buying each other a beer at the bar afterwards, but showing that respect ten seconds afterwards? Isn’t that a little too soon? Maybe, maybe not. I think I’m leaning towards awesome.

Game report: Georgia 13 @ Toronto 12 (OT)

What a heartbreaker. But what a great game. The matchup for top position in the East was everything we hoped it would be – close, defensive, fast-paced, and with some beautiful passing and scoring at both ends. Goaltending was solid, there were some nice transition plays, a number of penalties but nothing crazy (though one had a fairly major impact on the outcome), and we even got some free extra lacrosse at the end, though only 46 seconds of it.

Awesome

Latrell at the draft

  • Both defenses. This seems weird since each team took over 60 shots. But there seemed to be a lot of shot clock violations and constant passing around because nobody had a decent look at the net.
  • Tom Schreiber. Does it get boring saying this guy’s name every week? As a Rock fan, I say no. One play he made in the first quarter was similar to a play from last week, where Schreiber ran at the net like he had a couple of times previously, taking a couple of defenders with him. He then casually flipped it back to a wide open Brett Hickey who buried it. This time, he actually dove towards the side of the net, looking like he was trying to tuck it in between Poulin and the left post, but instead flipped it back to Dan Lintner who buried it while Schreiber was still in the air over the crease. Very slick.
  • Thompson brothers. Again, we mention these guys week as being awesome after week on Addicted to Lacrosse but it continues to be true. Each just knows where the others are going to be and I’m kind of surprised that the Miles-from-Lyle-and-Jerome goal in the third quarter was the first goal this year featuring all three of them. Actually, I checked and this is the only goal since 2005 featuring three players with the same last name, which means that neither the Gajic nor the Morgan brothers ever did it. The Kilgours (Travis, Darris, Richie) all played together on Buffalo from 1995-1999 but I don’t have goal stats going back that far.
  • Kieran McArdle – he scored the same goal three times: a laser from about 20 feet out and a little to the goalie’s left.
  • Latrell Harris. He played a solid game and then topped it off by giving the Rock a one-goal lead (finally! Harris scores on a breakaway) with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter. The elation lasted twelve seconds (see below).
  • Overtime! Who doesn’t love overtime! Well, I know a couple of people who get very stressed during OT and don’t like it. But I do!
  • Chad Tutton shot while on the run and then was hit into the crease, landing at Nick Rose’s feet. This tripped Rose up and he landed on Tutton, but not before making the save. Rose, as you may know, is a big guy. After Rose got up, Tutton got up, patted Rose on the shoulder, and headed to the bench. Not sure if he was saying “nice save” or if Rose apologized and Tutton was saying “don’t worry, I’m fine” but either way, it was nice to see that kind of sportsmanship. It was also nice to see the defenders not lose their minds because an opposing player hit their goalie accidentally.

Not awesome

  • Mike Poulin. Poulin was not terrible by any stretch, but he seemed to get fooled a lot. There were a number of shots where he’d make the save, and then look around frantically because he didn’t know where the ball was. At least twice it dropped behind him and he stopped it from going in the net or it rolled just wide. In one case, he saved most of it, but then danced around a little to try and get control of it, and it actually did bounce into the net. The ref had already whistled play dead so it didn’t count. But seeing as Poulin never really had control of the ball, play probably should not have been stopped and the goal should have counted.
  • Latrell Harris – The very next play after his tie-breaking goal, the Swarm win the faceoff and Harris chases down the player with the ball, and is called for interference. Not quite the worst time to take a penalty, but… actually that might have been the worst time to take a penalty. So the Swarm are down by one but are now on the power play with a minute left in the fourth quarter. Of course they pull their goalie to go 6-on-4. Shayne Jackson scores the tying goal with 3.9 seconds left.

Other game notes

  • Teddy Jenner made a great point on twitter after the game:

    Powless comes off the IR from concussion symptoms and scores the game winner in over-time; teammates immediately smack him on the head
    Teddy Jenner (@OffTheCrossebar)

  • For the upcoming Star Wars night, they played some ads featuring Rock players. One was wearing a Darth Vader mask and “force-choked” another, still another did his best Chewbacca impersonation. The ads were just terrible. And great. Or possibly great because they were terrible.
  • Two different people asked me whether women’s lacrosse features a “too many men” penalty. Is it “too many players”? Or “too many women”? I have no idea. Anyone out there know?