At times it seemed the Toronto Rock were toying with the Vancouver Stealth.
Early in the second quarter, the Rock went ahead 11-0, matching Vancouver’s 11 shots on goal up to that point. By the time halftime had rolled around, the Rock were up 17-1 and were well on their way to a ridiculously easy one-sided affair, beating the Stealth 24-7 on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.
The 17 goals in the first 30 minutes set a new National Lacrosse League record. “I have been playing lacrosse for a long time and I don’t think I have been a part of an explosion like that before,” said Toronto sophomore sensation Tom Schreiber, who led the onslaught with five goals and a dozen points.
After their record-setting first half, the Rock scored three times in the first 3:11 of the third quarter to go ahead 20-1. At that point, the league record for goals in a single game seemed seriously in danger.
Alas, Toronto took their foot off the gas pedal and settled for 24 goals — the 24 would have beaten three of the four NFL teams playing in wild-card Saturday.
The NLL record 32 goals scored by Montreal back in 2001 still stands.
Rock head coach Matt Sawyer was part of that team’s coaching staff as well. “I thought we played well and put them in some tough positions — a lot of those shots were bar and in,” he said. By his estimation, only one of the goals came in transition, with the rest a result of good offensive execution. “The way their team plays defence and the way we want to play offence, we thought it was a good match up for us,” he said. “You don’t anticipate that. You never think you are going to put that number on the board, but we will take it.”
Adam Jones (four goals, 10 points), Rob Hellyer (three goals, nine points), Kieran McCardle (three goals, nine points) Dan Craig (three goals, five points) and Brett Hickey (two goals, five points) all had multi-goal games while Challen Rogers, Sheldon Burns, Billy Hostrawser and Reid Reinholdt each had one goal. Reinholdt also had a pair of assists.
The Rock, after an 0-2 start, now sit at 2-2, and have scored a combined 44 goals in the victories. “We have played desperate the last two games,” Schreiber said. “We have played hungry … and we didn’t overcomplicate it. We just stuck to the game plan and not got too rattled with the bad performances in the beginning.”
The loss dropped the Stealth to 0-4 on the season and in search of answers. The team held a closed-doors meeting for 40 minutes following the loss. Head coach Jamie Batley declined to share what he said to his team. “Obviously we are not happy with the game,” Batley said. “We will learn from the mistakes (and) try and correct some of the chronic errors. It is basically throw it away and move on.”
The Stealth have a myriad of problems right now: their offence isn’t scoring, their goaltending can’t come up with a save and the team is playing without any confidence. “We are gripping our sticks,” Batley said. “Our expectations were really high and we are 0-4.”
Both Stealth goaltenders were bombarded by the Rock attack, taking turns in getting fired upon as Toronto finished with 75 shots on goal. Tye Belanger got the start and surrendered 15 goals on 43 shots. Brodie MacDonald allowed nine goals on 36 shots as the net minders took turn getting ventilated by a ruthlessly effective Rock offensive attack.
The Stealth were led by Logan Schuss’ two goals and five points while Corey Small had a goal and four assists. Tony Malcom (one goal, two assists), Evan Messenger, Peter McFetridge and Ryan Fourier had the other goals. “Our expectation is our offence is going to score more than seven goals,” Batley said. (But) tonight we weren’t winning the game. (Toronto) played a great game tonight they ran really well and they shot the ball really well, They could have beat any team in the league tonight with that effort.”