The 2010 Rock home opener was last night at the ACC, and it was a great game – it was very physical, the score was close throughout, and it went to overtime. There was a lot of fighting and tons of penalties. It was also rather weird, in that there were a number of things that happened that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, but more on that later. The Rock won it 8-7, with rookie Garrett Billings scoring the winner in OT after a beautiful behind-the-back pass from Colin Doyle. It was very nice to Doyle back in a Rock uniform after being traded away three years ago in one of the worst trades in Rock history.
Doyle is known for being a scorer and team leader, and you will never find a better clutch player anywhere, but he’s a pretty tough dude as well. He doesn’t fight much – I’m sure his coaches won’t generally let him since he can’t score from the penalty box – but it happens, and five minutes into his Rock return, he got involved (and held his own, I thought) with Boston’s Paul Dawson, who’s known to be a good fighter. Of course, Boston losing Paul Dawson for nine minutes (roughing + facemasking + fighting major) is a little easier for the Blazers to take than Toronto losing Doyle for nine. But after Doyle and Dawson were in the box, and before the next whistle was even blown, four other fights broke out around the benches. The refs let them all go until the players decided that they had had enough and just walked away, and then all eight players were given game misconducts. Luckily for the Rock, Boston lost league MVP Dan Dawson and a couple of other offensive guys, while two of the players the Rock lost weren’t likely to see much floor time anyway. The unmistakeable message from the Rock was “You will not touch our captain.” I am not a fan of fighting in lacrosse or hockey, and I think starting four fights was a bit extreme, but I did stand and applaud as the Rock players headed to the dressing room after standing up for their teammate and captain.
As rare as a Colin Doyle fight is, there were a number of things in that game I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a lacrosse game before – and I’ve seen every Rock home game but one in the last nine years:
- Four separate fights on the floor at the same time
- Eight players ejected at once
- Coincident facemasking penalties (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen facemasking penalties at all, actually)
- Goaltender leaving the crease penalty
- Unsportsmanlike diving penalty
- Dan Dawson fighting – Dawson pounded the snot out of Pat McCready, who’s a decent fighter himself. I suppose being 6-foot-5 and consistently punching downwards helps
The first quarter alone must have taken 45 minutes to play. Things settled down after that, mainly because neither team could afford to lose more players. Losing Dan Dawson really hurt the Blazers offense, while the Rock defense was decimated – all four Rock players tossed were defenders. There were times when both Doyle and Manning were playing D – I figured that they just got caught on the floor during a quick transition, but then realized that they had to play defense because almost half of their defenders were in the dressing room.
Bob Watson now has a GAA of less than 7.00 after two games, which is pretty unbelievable. He made some pretty key saves in OT, but throughout the game, Cosmo was even better. If not for some of Cosmo’s acrobatics, this game would have been over long before it was.
So the game was pretty weird, but in actual fact, the whole Rock experience was a little different too. Two for the Show were not there (sorry, have to dry my tears before continuing… (snif) OK, I’m better now), and for the first time ever, none of the players (save Whipper) had nicknames. The attendance was only about 11,000 – I was surprised at how low that was. I was expecting 14-15,000 or so. They did have the same “hostess” as last year – the pretty girl who gives stuff away, and she had a helper this year. I question the wisdom of asking fans trivia questions for prizes during play, which caused me to miss a goal, but then I suppose that’s my own fault for not watching the game. The fact that I let that draw my attention away from the game it itself a little weird, considering it was a really good, albeit weird, game.