Category Archives: Sports

Game Review: Toronto 13 Washington 12

The Rock kept hold of first place in the East with a thrilling 13-12 overtime victory over the Washington Stealth in Toronto last night. Toronto has made it known throughout the season that they had “unfinished business” to take care of thanks to the Stealth stealing the Championship last year – not that the Stealth didn’t deserve the victory, but that they were the only team standing between the Rock and their sixth Championship. This rematch was not only important to the Rock to stay in first in the East, but as a little payback.

Colin Doyle led all scorers with 2 goals and 5 assists, while both Garrett Billings and Rob Hellyer had 5 assists. Blaine Manning was held to a single assist and was having trouble hitting the net. He had 15 shots and the scoresheet says that 10 of them were on net, but I don’t think so. Lewis Ratcliff led the Stealth in scoring with 3 and 3, while Paul Rabil (holy crap, he’s good) got a goal and four assists and Rhys Duch had two goals and two assists. Ratcliff also had a game high sixteen shots on net – nobody else had more than 11.

As I said in last week’s game report, I’ve tried to hold back on complaining about NLL refs. I’ve tried to give them the benefit of the doubt for years, but I’m starting to lose my patience, and last night’s game didn’t help. The Rock had seven power plays (scoring 5 PP goals) and the Stealth four, but a number of the calls made little sense. Craig Conn was given five for an illegal cross-check, but two would have been sufficient. Once out of the box, Conn then punched Kyle Ross in the face after the whistle right in front of the ref who called nothing. When Troy Cordingley expressed his displeasure with that, the Rock were given a penalty, leading to several beautiful Watson saves before Matt Beers buried one with 5 seconds left in the first half. There were people on Twitter saying that the refs were trying to give the win to the Rock, but that goal lands squarely in the other court. Five minutes into the third, a Jeff Moleski was approaching Stephen Hoar, who had his stick turned, ready to make a (completely legal) cross-check on Moleski’s arm or mid-section, when Moleski suddenly dropped his head and tried to go around Hoar. Hoar’s stick made contact with Moleski’s head and Hoar was given an illegal cross-check penalty. It should have been obvious what happened – I saw it from the other side of the arena 17 rows up. I just watched it again (thanks to TSN!) and it looked the same – a total accident with no intent. What’s the point of penalizing Hoar on that play?

Bob Watson had another good outing, and will be a serious contender for goaltender of the year. Only once has a goaltender ever been named league MVP, that being Steve Dietrich in 2006, but if Watson leads the Rock deep into the playoffs, that could be a possibility as well. At the other end of the floor, Tyler Richards faced 66 Toronto shots, and had a better game than the 13 goals scored against him might indicate. Not that 13 goals against is terrible, but I can think of several unbelievable saves Richards made that kept this game from being an 18-12 Rock win – particularly one on Kasey Beirnes in the second when Beirnes was right on the edge of the crease with a wide open net and Richards somehow got a hand up and deflected the ball into the crowd. Richards made another save in the 4th that actually made me and others near me applaud. Note to Richards if he’s reading this – it seemed to me that a lot of the Rock goals went in over your left shoulder. May want to look into that.

The Rock are idle for another three hours and play in Philadelphia tonight, while the Stealth head down the QEW to Buffalo for a battle (aren’t they all?) with the Bandits. Hopefully Cam Sedgwick makes it to the game – according to a couple of his teammates on Twitter, he left his passport in the hotel in Toronto and the team bus was delayed at the border.

Other game notes:

  • Early in the 4th, Cliff Smith scored a goal while falling into Watson. The goal counted and Smith was given a goaltender interference penalty. WTF? If there was goaltender interference before the goal, the goal shouldn’t have counted. If it was after the goal, unless it was an intentional punch or something, there should be no penalty. I just watched the replay again and it was a complete accident – Smith fell into Watson after a nice diving goal. Again, what’s the point of this penalty?
  • Weird rule: In the NHL, a shot on goal is loosely defined as any shot that goes in the net or would go in the net were it not for the goalie stopping it. In the NLL, a shot that hits the post or crossbar and doesn’t go in is also considered a shot on net. This is probably because of the shot clock – so they can simply say that any shot on net resets the clock. The weird thing is that in this case the goalie (who was beaten) gets credited with a save. I guess they decided that any shot on net must result in either a goal or a save, so if they’re going to make hitting the post a shot, they also need to make it a save. Still weird.
  • After goalie Tyler Richards left his net to set a pick on Jeff Gilbert (what was Gilbert doing at that end of the floor?), Gilbert pushed him down. Chris McElroy took exception and jumped Gilbert, getting two for instigating, five for fighting, and a game misconduct. Gilbert was given two for goaltender interference and five for being the recipient of several punches. Isn’t it true that you are allowed to hit the goalie if he’s out of the crease? If it’s not, it should be. The goalie has a “safe zone” where nobody can touch him and if he makes the conscious decision to leave that safe zone, he should do it at his own peril. Plus, he’s the most heavily padded guy on the floor.

Roughnecks on the move

By Loof Lirpa, special correspondent

The drama is finally over. A spokesman for the Calgary Roughnecks announced this morning that the team has been sold and will relocate for the 2012 season. Following in the league’s decisions to try new markets and to move to smaller towns outside of major cities (Hoffman Estates IL, Everett WA, Glendale AZ), the Roughnecks have been sold to a Mexican company called Ándale Arriba. The president of Ándale Arriba, S. Gonzales, has already stated his intention to move the team to Chimalhuacán, a town of just over half a million people near Mexico City. The team will begin play in the 2012 season, and will be known as the Mexico City Menudos.

NLL Commissioner George Daniel said that he is “sorry for the Roughnecks fans in Calgary who have to watch their team leave, but at the same time, very excited for the people of Chimalhuacán and Mexico City. This is a big step for our league, and we are happy for the mill— um, thous— um, dozens of Mexican lacrosse fans who will be able to watch the best lacrosse players in the world right in their own back yard. Seriously, until the arena gets built, Mr. Gonzales will be hosting the games in his back yard. Not much in the way of seating, but the tequila and burritos are really cheap. And I guarantee that snowstorms on game nights will be less of an issue than in Calgary.”

After a private meeting with the players, Menudo captain Andrew McBride issued the following statement on behalf of himself and his teammates: “We’re going where?”

In an exclusive interview with The NLL Blog, former Roughnecks owner Brad Bannister explained his financial reasoning and how he came to the difficult decision that this was the right move for the franchise: “Some dude gave me a coupla hundred grand and a bottle of Cuervo Gold. More than the Flames offered.”

The movement for next season may not be over yet. There are rumours that the NLL may become the first professional North American sports league to have a team in Iceland, as the Rochester Knighthawks become the Reykjavík Hrútspungars. We will keep you updated on this story as it develops.

Game report: Calgary 14 Toronto 9

The battle of the first place teams is over, and the better team won. On this night, anyway, Calgary was indeed the better team in a 14-9 victory over the Toronto Rock. The Roughnecks dominated the entire game and while Bob Watson is having a career year in his final season, he was outplayed by his former backup Mike Poulin.

The Rock and Roughnecks traded goals early before Kasey Beirnes scored six minutes in to give the Rock a 2-1 lead. Dane Dobbie erased that only twelve seconds later with his first of four, and the Roughnecks never trailed again. Calgary had a much more balanced attack than the Rock – thirteen different Roughnecks got points to the Rock’s seven. Dobbie and Jeff Shattler led the scoring with seven points each, while Curtis Dickson got a hat trick and Scott Ranger had four helpers. On the Rock side, Colin Doyle was the only multiple-goal scorer with 3, with LeBlanc, Billings, Manning, Maddalena, Beirnes, and Marshall all getting one each.

I thought Toronto’s transition was a big part of their downfall – far too many times a defender would grab the ball and race up the floor looking for a breakaway or 2-on-1, which almost never happened. They’d take a shot from a bad angle or through traffic, Poulin would make an easy save if the ball even got to him, and the Roughnecks offense would come back up the floor again. Rob Marshall scored one, but no other defense or transition players even had assists, a sure sign that your transition is not working.

Pro: The game was on TSN2 in high definition, which was really nice for those of us not in Calgary. Dave Randorf is great on the play-by-play and Brian Shanahan, while he needs a new haircut, really knows his stuff. My wife declared that their ties didn’t match either, though I have to say I did not notice that. I have to say, though, that the Calgary announcer needs to STFU during play. Trying to get the crowd going and announcing goals and penalties is fine, but keep the Supercuts ads for breaks in play. They also need to turn his mic down – he was drowning out the TV commentators.

Con: the game was tape-delayed at least 30 minutes so that TSN2 could continue their March Madness coverage. Now if they were covering a game that went long, and tape-delayed the lacrosse game to finish it, I could understand that. They should have put a banner across the bottom of the screen saying this. But that’s not what happened here. The game they were covering was over, and they showed half an hour of James Cybulski and Jack Armstrong talking about that game and some other upcoming ones, and then showed the first ten minutes or so of the Ohio State / someone else (Kentucky? Florida? Don’t remember, and don’t care enough to go look it up) game. No banner indicating the change in scheduling was shown. Then at the end of the coverage, they finally said that the Rock / Roughnecks game was coming up, but Cybulski added insult to injury by stating that their March Madness coverage would continue over on TSN, so you want to change the channel…. now. Right, because nobody really wants to watch lacrosse, do they? Remember that Rock owner Jamie Dawick pays to have the Rock games on TSN2, so I can’t imagine he’s too happy with how things played out last night.

Now if they had had Kate Beirness (who apparently went to the non-existent “University of Ontario”*) doing the basketball coverage, I would have been able to forgive TSN a lot easier. I’d watch half an hour of her reading the phone book. I might even PVR it so that I could revisit the subtle intricacies of her performance. Sorry, where was I?

I’m afraid I’m turning into one of those people who complain about the refs after every game. I’ve tried to be good and give them the benefit of the doubt, and I know it’s a hard job and I couldn’t do it and all that, but still. As I’ve mentioned before, Grant Spies takes every penalty he calls as a personal affront to him or to the game or something, and there were a number of phantom or “You called that? Really?” penalties on both sides. The weirdest call was a no-goal on Kasey Beirnes in the 3rd. Replays clearly showed that his goal was good, but it was waved off. Troy Cordingley immediately threw the challenge flag only to be told that the call was not reviewable. I have no idea why not, but the call stood. Another weird one had happened in the second when the shot clock whistle sounded just before a Roughnecks goal, but I have to give the refs credit on that one – it appeared to be the wrong call, but it was actually correct. The shot was taken just before time ran out and Watson made the save, resetting the clock. Dobbie then grabbed the rebound and buried it. It happened fast enough that it looked like the goal shouldn’t have counted, but it should have and did.

The game was a little chippy but not really rough until the end. Blaine Manning was getting pretty ticked by the end of the game, and according to Claude Feig, Manning wanted to go out and fight Andrew McBride but Cordingley wouldn’t let him. The coach didn’t have the same restraints on Patrick Merrill or Kyle Ross, however, and both got into completely pointless fights with under a minute in the game. Merrill took on Mike Kilby and I’d have to call that one a draw, and then Ross took on heavyweight Geoff Snider. Ross went right after Snider and even took him down almost right away. But Snider did a smooth tuck-and-roll and got back up, landed three punches, and it was over. Snider was the clear winner there.

Both teams are done for the weekend and play at home next week. The Rock host the Washington Stealth, while the Roughnecks play the Minnesota Swarm.

* – I stand corrected; there is a University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa. My bad.

Steve Toll – Hall of Famer?

Steve Toll recently announced that he will retire after the 2012 NLL season, which will be his fifteenth in the league. It’s probably for the best, since his memory is obviously going. In the story on, Toll recalls his first game, while playing with the Ontario Raiders in 1998: “It was in the old Philadelphia Spectrum. We beat Philadelphia and I got an assist.” The story then says “That was the beginning of the streak.”  But if you check the career stats page, also on, you find that Toll played one game in 1998, collecting zero points, then played one game in 1999, collecting an assist. His streak couldn’t have begun in 1998, since he only played one game in 1999. Also, according to the Spectrum’s page on Wikipedia, the Wings stopped playing there in 1996, two years before Toll started in the league. OK, so either someone screwed up their research or Toll can’t remember details from 13 years ago. No big deal.

Anyway, when I heard that Toll was going to retire, I wondered if he would be considered for the NLL Hall of Fame. My first thought was “Definitely yes!”, but then I wondered if I was just being a homer because I’m a Rock fan and he was a big part of the Rock’s success from 1999-2004. So I reconsidered and decided no, Toll was a great player but not a Hall of Famer. But I have reconsidered my reconsideration, and now I’ve decided once and for all – when Toll retires, he deserves to join his former teammates Dan Stroup, Jim Veltman, and Gary Gait (though he didn’t win a Championship with Gait) as well as former coach Les Bartley and GM Johnny Mouradian in the NLL Hall of Fame.

If you want numbers, I got numbers. Toll has played in 201 NLL games, all but the first consecutively. He’s won 5 Championships – four with the Rock during their years of dominance in the early 2000’s, and one more with the Knighthawks during their dream 2007 season. The Hawks finished the season winning 12 in a row plus 3 more in the playoffs, and became the first team to ever win a Championship in a home game over two thousand miles away from their arena (don’t ask). Toll led the Knighthawks in loose balls every year he played there (except 2005 when he only played 5 games with them after being traded from San Jose), and the only reason he didn’t lead the Rock in that category was a guy by the name of Jim Veltman. He was also was the first-ever winner of the NLL Transition Player of the Year award in 2007.

Toll had three consecutive seasons with over 50 points for the Rock, collecting 65 in 2002. He scored 15 or more goals four times, and 25 or more twice. In Rochester, the numbers tailed off but Toll was primarily a defender, so looking at the point stats can be misleading. His speed made him very effective on transition, and Rock fans got used to at least one Speedin’ Stevie Toll breakaway goal, and sometimes several, each and every game. I just checked his Wikipedia page, and found that Steve Toll is six feet tall, which I never would have guessed. He never seemed that big to me. He was never the Dan Ladouceur type of defender who would just stand in front of you and make you try to get around him because otherwise you couldn’t see the net. Toll would chase you into the corner and pound on you with his stick until you either made a desperation pass or dropped the ball, in which case he’d have picked it up and be halfway to your net before you even knew it was gone. He was also very effective at intercepting passes, a skill he learned from Jim Veltman.

They say that the mark of a true Hall-of-Famer in any sport is that you cannot describe the league during the time that that player played without mentioning him. You cannot describe the Rock and their success in the early 2000’s without talking about Steve Toll. The Knighthawks didn’t have the same kind of success in his six seasons there, but along with John Grant and Toll’s good friend Shawn Williams, Toll was a team leader there as well. Obviously Colorado isn’t having much in the way of success this year, but Toll is the oldest player on a young team – Toll is at least six years older than every D/T player on the Mammoth except John Gallant, and Ben Davies was only ten when Toll played his first NLL game. He’s no longer the fastest guy in the league – he’s probably not even the fastest guy on his team – but having a veteran like Toll around has got to have a positive impact on these young players.

It’s almost a season and a half early, but congratulations on a stellar career Steve, and I look forward to your Hall of Fame induction.

New NLL Rules

The NLL has instigated a new rule to make sure that fans sitting behind the players benches can always see the game. This came from a group of fans in Philadelphia who couldn’t see because the Calgary coaches were standing on the benches. The fans complained to the Wings, the Wings complained to the league, and bam! A new rule was instigated saying that if anyone (player or otherwise) is standing on the bench at any time during play, or if coaches or non-playing personnel are “deemed to be deliberately obstructing fans”, the team will get a bench minor.

After listening to complaints from other fans, here are some other rules the NLL is considering:

  • Teddy Jenner reported on Twitter that because of complaining in Colorado, the Mammoth will be spotted a ten-goal lead for all home games. With this rule in place, the Mammoth may be able to win a home game sometime in the next season or two.
  • There will be a $50 cover charge per person at Roughnecks home games. Ladies are free after halftime! Two drink minimum.
  • Thanks to complaints from around the league, the Minnesota Swarm are banned from wearing those awful striped jerseys.
  • No fan under the age of 18 is allowed within ten rows of the Bandits bench. They were going to make a rule preventing Darris Kilgour from swearing, but nobody wanted to tell him.
  • In order to boost attendance in Washington, the Stealth will automatically win all of their home games. If they are successful on the floor, the fans will show up in droves, right?
  • Due to complaints from Rock fans, either Stephan LeBlanc or Bob Watson will be named Player of the Week every week. Even weeks where the Rock don’t play. Sure, Casey Powell scored eight goals but if Stephan had played, he would have scored nine.
  • Hey, as long as the fans are deciding the rules, every game will have at least one penalty shot, a fight, and a penalty that the goalie has to serve himself. Or maybe get them all done at once – a penalty shot that results in a goalie fight. And games that end in a tie go to a shootout. If the teams are still tied after five shots, there will be a trick shot competition, where players like Mark Steenhuis throw their sticks in the air or flip them behind their back before scoring. Coolest shot wins, even if it doesn’t go in.
  • How about a lap dance competi- um, never mind.

Real men wear pink

Game Review: Toronto 15 Philadelphia 10

I’m pretty sure Calgary used that “Real men wear pink” line a few years ago when they had their pink jerseys, but it’s worth repeating. The Toronto Rock had their Black Out for Breast Cancer night at the ACC tonight, and wore their awesome black jerseys and bright pink helmets. A couple of the players even had pink string in the lacrosse sticks. This is an annual event that the Rock have done for a number of years, where fans can bid on the jersey of their favourite player, and the highest bidder gets to go onto the field after the game and get the actual jersey worn by that player. All the money raised (over $12,000) goes towards breast cancer research at Sunnybrook Hospital, and as the son, son-in-law, and grandson-in-law of three breast cancer survivors, I cannot think of a more worthy cause.

Anyway, the first-place Rock hosted the last-place (in the East) Philadelphia Wings tonight and beat them 15-10, but don’t let the final score fool you – the game was closer than that score might indicate. The Wings didn’t look to me like a last place team on this night, though it seemed to be a bit of a backwards night for them. It seems unusual for a team that’s 4-5 to have a goalie starting the All-Star game, but that’s exactly what Brandon Miller did. He’s been a bright spot for Philly in an otherwise unremarkable season, but he looked downright ordinary tonight. He wasn’t terrible but he did allow all 15 goals on only 46 shots. Bob Watson had another good performance in goal for the Rock, saving 40 of 50 Philadelphia shots. Both goalies made their share of great saves but each let in a few softies as well. Considering these were the two goalies in the East chosen for the All-Star game, you might have expected a better goaltending display tonight, but alas, it was not to be.

That said, defense was the name of the game early on, as the teams took turns stifling the other’s scorers. Pat Maddalena scored his first of the season six minutes in and Blaine Manning followed with another less than thirty seconds later. Shortly after that, Paul Dawson managed to get a breakaway but ran too far and didn’t shoot until he was actually in the crease. Watson made the stop, but Dawson kept going and fell into Watson, making completely avoidable contact with the goalie. That’s a no-no, and the ref sent Dawson to his room without supper and told him to think about what you’ve done, mister. Garrett Billings scored on the PP to put the Rock up 3-0, but Alex Turner scored his first of two on a one-timer after a beautiful feed from a falling Drew Westervelt, and the first quarter ended with only four goals. Philly opened the second by scoring just 33 seconds in, before the Rock scored another three unanswered goals. Philly did not give up and scored three of their own sandwiched around another Billings goal to put the halftime score at 7-5. Philly’s last goal of the second was a very nice play by tough guy Paul Dawson.

Just like they did in the second, Philly opened the scoring early in the third, with Athan Iannucci scoring his second of the night just 26 seconds in. Both teams traded goals until Matt Alrich silenced the Toronto crowd with a bullet over Bob Watson’s left shoulder to tie the game at 9. The game was tied for almost five minutes before 18-year-old rookie Rob Hellyer, playing in his first NLL game, scored his first goal – and what a goal it was. Hellyer broke towards the net from the left side, had the ball knocked out of his stick by Bill McGlone (who would have been given a holding call on the play if Hellyer hadn’t scored – the ref’s arm was already up), but recovered the ball and threw it back over his shoulder and past Miller. Not only was it an amazing effort and goal, but it turned out to be the winning goal, as it put the Rock up 10-9, a lead which they would not relinquish.

In the fourth, it was the Rock who opened the scoring early, as Sandy Chapman scored 11 seconds in. The Wings seemed to run out of gas in the fourth, only scoring one goal while the Rock added another four. Toronto extended its home winning streak to 6 games this year, and nine going back to last year. The last time the Rock lost at home was an 11-10 OT loss to the Bandits on March 12 last year. They have the next two weeks off while the Wings travel to Calgary to play the Roughnecks tomorrow night.

Other notes:

  • There were a bunch of really nice goals tonight by both teams. Both of Alex Turner’s were one-timers – kind of the alley-oop of lacrosse – and he missed on a third. Dawson had a nice one as I mentioned, Iannucci had a couple, and Hellyer’s was awesome.
  • Pat Maddalena has put the ball in the net four times this season. Three of them have been challenged, and two of those resulted in disallowed goals.
  • As soon as Rob Hellyer scored his first-ever NLL goal, Pat Maddalena ran to the ref to grab the game ball for him. Classy.
  • Stephen Hoar had a shorthanded breakaway. Awesome.
  • Athan Iannucci is a very good lacrosse player. Yup, you heard it here first, folks. I’m still not sure he’s back to the level he was at during the 2008 season, but even if he’s 80% of that guy, that’s still pretty damned good. He had a ton of shots and four very nice goals.

By the numbers

Some interesting stats about the NLL at the halfway point of the season.

Number of face-offs taken by the Calgary Roughnecks: 214
Number of face-offs not taken by Geoff Snider: 12

Geoff Snider’s league-leading face-off percentage in 2010: 75.6%
Second-highest face-off percentage in 2010: 57.5% (Stephen Peyser)
Snider’s face-off percentage this year after implementation of the “Snider rule”: 64.9%
Highest face-off percentage this year: 70.9% (Bob Snider, Geoff’s brother)
Highest non-Snider face-off percentage this year: 60.1% (Jamison Koesterer, who has retired)

Players in the league with 5 or more points per game (>1 game): 10
Players on the Toronto Rock: 3 (LeBlanc, Manning, Billings)
Players in the entire west division: 3 (Benesch, Ratcliffe, Duch)

Penalty minutes for Scott Self in Buffalo’s Jan. 22 loss to Toronto: 30
Players in the league with more than 30 penalty minutes total: 7
Penalty minutes for Scott Self since that game: 2

Goal differential for Toronto in the 3rd quarter: +14
Goal differential for Boston in the 2nd quarter: +13
Goal differential for Colorado in the 1st quarter: 0
Goal differential for Colorado in the 2nd quarter: –16

Total goals for/against for Calgary: 91/89
Calgary’s record: 5-3
Total goals for/against for Minnesota: 91/88
Minnesota’s record: 4-4

Number of games where Toronto opponents scored 0 goals in a period: 5 (one of those games had 2 such periods)
Number of games where that period was the third: 4
Next closest team: Buffalo, with 2

Highest shooting percentage (goals/shots, at least 10 goals): Andrew Watt, 45.48%
Number of players over 25%: 3 (Watt, Chad Culp – 32.5%, Ryan Benesch – 26.6%)

Number of players with >10 loose balls per game: 4
Number named Snider: 2

Best home attendance average: Colorado, 15,745 per game
Total attendance for all four home games in Washington: 15,974

Number of eastern division teams allowing more than 11 goals/game: 0
Number of western division teams allowing less than 11 goals/game: 0
(Thanks to Casey Vock at the NLL Insider for that one)

The NLL Skills Competition

By Graeme Perrow

2011NLLAllStarLogo The NLL will hold the 2011 All-Star game at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York on February 27, 2011. The game itself is getting some buzz around the league, but what is getting less fanfare is the skills competition the night before. Here are some of the events taking place:

Coaches Cursing: Troy Cordingley and Darris Kilgour are the heavy favourites. Lucky for them Bruce Boudreau is not an NLL coach.

Guess The Next Team Move: Players attempt to guess the next NLL franchise to move or vanish. You get double points if it happens before the end of All-Star weekend.

We are Family: All the players in the league who also have brothers, nephews/uncles, or cousins in the league will be put together for one big lacrosse game. The seven other players in the league will watch.

Random one-on-one: Forwards and defenders are chosen randomly one at a time for a one-on-one. The forward has to get by the defender – the defender that that keeps the forward away the longest wins. Last year’s competition featuring Josh Sanderson against David Morgan had to be cancelled after thirty-six hours, when Sanderson complained that he wasn’t even sure that the net was still there since he hadn’t seen it all day.

Why are you still here? A two-part competition. Part 1: Players guess at the next time one of the Gait brothers re-un-retires. Part 2: Players attempt to determine why. Part one is worth five points, part two is worth five thousand.

Hairball: Players attempt to stop a Paul Rabil shot with only their hair. Bandit Mark Steenhuis is the current record holder, but Edmonton Washington’s Ian Hawksbee will put up a good fight. NLL newcomer Connor Martin might jump into the fray as well, if he can overcome his shyness. Former Mammoth and Albany Attack head coach Bob McMahon will be judging. Brandon Miller declined an invitation to participate.

Goalie 100m dash: Goalies attempt to run 100m in full equipment. A time of less than an hour and a half is considered outstanding. The race is usually won by the cameraman running backwards.

Game Report: Toronto 13 Rochester 6

I was not at the Blue Cross Arena for tonight’s Rock-Knighthawks rematch, so I watched it on I’ve said it before, but major kudos to the NLL for streaming every game live. The picture and audio quality was great, and there were only a couple of network interruptions. The Rock – Knighthawks game is now over and I’m watching the Boston – Minnesota game, and the picture quality is just as good. It ain’t HD by any stretch, but certainly watchable and you can’t beat the price.

Anyway, the Rock have definitely thrown off whatever curse may have been on them in Rochester. After winning only one game in Rochester ever, they’ve now won twice there this season. Once again, the Hawks just couldn’t get anything going. They scored a single goal in each of the first three quarters before “exploding” for three in the fourth. Matt Vinc was downright average, looking even less like the reigning Goalie of the Year than last night. Given that Cody Jamieson seemed pretty pissed in the first quarter and that Shawn Evans tried to pull helmets off both Watson and Phil Sanderson in the fourth and the fact that the Hawks were in danger of getting blown out by the same team two nights in a row, there was surprisingly little chippiness. The Rock took advantage of penalties on both sides, scoring four power play goals and two shorthanded goals – with both shorthanded goals coming less than 40 seconds apart on the same penalty. The Rock’s two shorthanded goals were two more than Rochester scored during Toronto penalties.

Nice to see Mike Hasen and Jeremy Hollenbeck inducted into Knighthawks Hall of Fame before the game.

First quarter

  • Stephen Hoar on a breakaway – didn’t look like that hard a shot but froze Vinc. 1-0 Toronto
  • Rochester fans starting the “Watson… Watson… Watson…. you suck!” a few minutes before their first goal. At that point, no Knighthawk had scored on Watson in well over 30 minutes going back to last night.
  • Shawn Williams scores with less than a minute remaining in the quarter to tie it at 1
  • Rochester fans get Knightingales. Toronto fans get Iggy.

Second quarter

  • Nice passing resulting in a power play goal by Leblanc – 2-1 Rock
  • Jarrett Davis goes five hole to tie it up at 2
  • Kasey Biernes dives across the goal mouth to put the Rock back up by 1. Leblanc is given credit for the goal, though I was sure it was Biernes. Perhaps I was mistaken. Update: I was, but so were they. The goal was later awarded to Billings.
  • Kasey Biernes on the PP with a one-timer past Vinc – Rock 4-2
  • Manning passes from behind the net to Leblanc who buries it to put the Rock up 5-2
  • Jeff Gilbert scores on an empty net, beating Matt Vinc sliding into second base across the crease right at the end of the half – Rock up 6-2

Third quarter

  • Mike Hobbins scores on a shorthanded breakaway. Awesome. 7-2 Toronto
  • Another defender shorthanded goal, this time by Stephen Hoar. 8-2 Rock
  • Mike Accursi from Shawn Evans – 8-3 Rock
  • Garrett Billings goes to his favourite place – top shelf. 9-3 Rock
  • Pascas scoops up a loose ball, feeds to Manning who has all kinds of time to decide how to score. Rock ahead 10-3
  • Rochester fans starting the “Watson… you suck” chant again right after their goalie lets in a goal. Um, it’s 10-3 people.
  • Nice goal by Pascas called back, presumably because his toe was in the crease. Awfully close, but I can’t say they were wrong
  • Another nice diving-across-the-crease goal by Leblanc – 11-3

Fourth quarter

  • Former Rock Scott Campbell with a transition goal opens the scoring in the fourth – 11-4
  • Another Rochester goal – Mike Accursi hits the top corner. 11-5
  • Creighton Reid answers for the Rock – 12-5 Toronto
  • Shawn Evans tries to start something with a Rock defender (Sanderson I think) and they both end up in the crease in front of Watson. Evans ends up grabbing Watson and pulling his helmet off before dropping on top of Sanderson and trying to pull his helmet off. He gets 2 for facemasking and 2 for roughing. No penalty for being a douchebag.
  • Garrett Billings scores Toronto’s fourth PP goal of the night. 13-5
  • Shawn Evans comes out of the box and scores after a nice move on Bryan. He’s still a douchebag. 13-6 Toronto.