Getting It at the End: A Win the Rock Needed

TOsports.caCorrespondent IApril 21, 2009

TORONTO - APRIL 4:  Geddy Lee, lead vocalist and bassist of the rock band Rush, watches as the Toronto Blue Jays play  against the Boston Red Sox for the Blue Jays' home-opener at the Rogers Centre April 4, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

With no season on the line and talent evaluation at the forefront, the Rock showed up. It was Saturday, Apr. 18, and night at the Air Canada Centre.

The visiting San Jose Stealth had already punched their playoff ticket. The Rock, with nothing to play for but pride, showed coach Jamie Batley that they do listen and they are getting better with a resounding 15–11 victory. The difference was the transition game.

It proved to be where the Rock were most effective, something Batley brought to the team and has been working on all year.

“I think it’s really the way this game should be played at the pro level,” Batley said. “I think they finally learned it. You don’t just run up the floor you’ve got to be in a certain position and you’ve got to make a certain decision.”

Batley’s coaching seems to be sinking in. The Rock are no longer the crackerjack team from whom former coach Greg Clark had a tough time getting a consistent performance.

“I think you saw the team that I’ve seen at practice all year, the team we thought we had,” Batley said. “This is the team we think that we have, that buries the ball on offense, that plays decent defense.”

For former Rock stalwart Colin Doyle, this game was a chance for the single season points record, needing nine points to break John Tavares’ record of 115. And he made a valiant effort. He got his fifth point of the night with one minute to go, and cherry picked the rest of the game. But it was not to be: He finished with 111 points.

“We didn’t talk much about that (the record) before the game,” Stealth coach Chris Hall said. “You don’t want to get away from your team strategy. Certainly at the end there, when we knew the game was lost, that our mission was to try to get him the ball.”

In the Stealth’s first trip to the ACC, Lewis Ratcliff and Luke Wiles rolled out the welcoming mat by scoring a combined six goals and 11 points. Ratcliff had four goals and Wiles had two. Josh Wasson, Craig Conn, and Rob Marshall added two goals each, while Bill McGlone, Blaine Manning, and Jason Clark had a goal each

In just his fourth game, Wasson had two goals and an assist, bringing his season total to five goals and nine points. But he’s part of a logjam at his position, right side forward, with Jason Crosbie and Craig Conn also capable there.

“I’m just excited to be back in the lineup, happy to be out there running around,” Wasson said. “Getting a chance to play and just trying to make the most of it.”

“We tried to get some guys in the lineup, you know Wasson who we’ve been trying to get in the lineup all year,” Batley said. “We know he’s a great player and he shows it every time he plays. We had to get him in the lineup.”

With the box lacrosse season now at a close in Toronto, attention shifts to the newly formed Toronto Nationals, who start training camp on May 3.

But Batley won’t be there. He’s got his own summer job, and he’s been very successful at it. He’s heading back to his hometown of Peterborough to coach the Lakers.

“I’d like to take all the best players,” Batley said about whom he wants with him in Peterborough. “I don’t care that I have John Grant or if I have Scott Evans, those guys know that I want hard workers too. I want guys who work hard."

The other question has to do with the future of Rock goalie Bob Watson, the 39-year-old. The elder statesman of the team had one of his rougher seasons, allowing 191 goals.

“I think I’m still in good enough of shape, mentally I just got to figure out if I want to do this grind again,” Watson said. “Summer’s off, I’m coaching a young son, no plans to play.”

The Rock managed to pack the house like they hadn’t all season, as 15,252 fans made a last ditch effort to see the team this season.