The Toronto Rock are showing no signs of slowing down. On the heels of two consecutive NLL Championships, the Rock finished the Regular Season on top with an 11-3 record. In the semi-finals, the Rock silenced any remaining critics by beating the Washington Power 10-9. The victory was especially sweet after losing to the Rock twice during the regular season.
"We did not play with discipline during our first two matchups with the Power," said Les Bartley, Toronto's Head Coach and General Manager. "This time around, we were the ones who got off to a fast start. We set the tone and tempo of the game. Most important-we shut down their transition game."
The Rock's only other regular season loss came in Rochester, where a red-hot K'hawks goalie Pat O'Toole led Rochester to a 12-7 victory over the Rock. Toronto avenged that loss late in the season, beating Rochester 11-4 at the Air Canada Centre.
Defense and goaltending are the backbone of the Rock's style of play. In nine of their fourteen regular season games, The Rock's opponent scored fewer than ten goals. In three of those games, the opponent scored five goals or less. Rock goalkeeper Bob "Whipper" Watson led the NLL with an 8.89 Goals Against Average. Watson's efforts led to a First Team All-Pro selection and Goalkeeper of the Year Honors. Beating Watson with a shot is hard enough; the defense that plays in front of him makes it even harder.
"Our goal from day one of this franchise was to build a strong defense around Watson," said Bartley. "I can't say enough about the play of guys like Terry Bullen, Pat Coyle, Dan Ladouceur, Craig Gelsvik, Steve Toll and Glenn Clark. They transition the ball for us and get the offense in position to score."
The Toronto Rock are led on offense by Colin Doyle (26 Goals 33 Assists=59 Points), Kim Squire (26 30=56) and Kaleb Toth (23 22=45). Bartley deos not want the Championship Game to turn into a shootout. "For us to be successful, we have to make the game a good defensive battle. We don't score a lot of goals. Defense and goaltending is our game. We have to dictate the style of play."