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Rock hold off Attack for NLL title

by Campbell Blake
April 14, 2002 - National Lacrosse League (NLL)

Winning back the NLL championship after last year's disappointment is what the Toronto Rock wanted to do and that is exactly what they did. Saturday night against the Albany Attack, the Rock won their third championship in four years with a 13-12 victory that was a hard fought battle right to the end.

"It is a great feeling, it is wonderful," said Rock captain Jim Veltman. "This is what lacrosse is all about, a one goal game. It really sucks to lose but it sure feels great to win."

The game was a complete team effort with Colin Doyle, who was named MVP of the game, leading the way with three goals and one assist. The Rock got goals from players one would never expect, including several from the all-important defensive unit. Ten Rock players found the back of the net on the evening. Daryl Gibson scored two against his former Albany teammates while Drew Candy, Steve Toll, Blaine Manning, Ken Millin, Dan Ladouceur, Ian Rubel, Glenn Clark and Dan Stroup each had one. Blaine Manning who was just named rookie of the year this week had four assists on the night.

"We were playing well, their goalie was playing great. We were down by a goal at the half. We just went in there and said we have a half to play, you know its win or lose," said Manning. "Our defence just stepped up, guys stepped up and started scoring and things worked out for us."

Leading the way for the Attack was Josh Sanderson with his five goals and five assists, including four in the second quarter. Dan Teat and Mike Regan added two each while Gary Rosyski, Nick Trudeau and Phil Sanderson each had one.

It was a battle between the two goaltenders. Toronto's Bob Watson and Albany's Rob Blasdell were kept busy all night fending off shot after shot. If it was not for their outstanding play, the score could have been much higher. Watson was especially spectactular in the last 30 seconds of play with the Rock holding on to a 13-12 lead. Toronto out-shot the Attack 55 to 49 on the evening.

In front of 9,289 fan, including several hundred who made the trek from Toronto, the Rock led 2-0 after the first quarter on goals from Candy and Toll. Even thought they had the lead, Albany out-shot them 12-8 in the period.

After Sanderson opening up the second quarter with a goal, the two teams traded power play tallies. Albany then caught fire with Sanderson scoring three in a period of two minutes 44 seconds. The Rock got one back with a goal from Manning to close out the scoring in the opening half with just over three minutes left.

Albany jumped out with two early goals in the third period from Trudeau and Teat to take a 7-4 lead. Trudeau was left unchecked in front of the Toronto net and put it right past Watson. Teat scored with a low shot from the middle of the zone.

The Rock got back within one with two similar goals from Millin and Ladouceur. They each took shots that missed the Albany net only to get the rebound. Both scored on their second chance. The teams then exchanged goals to cap off the third quarter. The Rock found themselves down 8-7 heading into the all-important final quarter.

In the final period of play and after an early Attack goal from Phil Sanderson, it was all Rock as they scored six of the next seven goals to take a 13-10 lead with less than four minutes left in the game. Toronto's offensive output was led by two goals from Doyle and Gibson. Clark and Stoup rounded out the Rock's fourth quarter offensive firestorm.

Regan then put a long shot past Watson before Josh Sanderson found the top corner yet again to get the Attack within one with only 50 seconds left. Albany then pulled its goalie and sent out an extra attacker. With 16 seconds left and with one last rush, Teat had a shot deflected and it was over.

With the victory, the Rock achieved the goal they set out for themselves back in October when training camp opened, to win back the championship after losing it the previous year. With Colin Doyle, Blaine Manning, Daryl Gibson and Bob Watson at the forefront, they were successful in their effort to win it all despite having to go on the road for the first time. Even though they were playing the final in Albany, the Rock did not let that get in their way and because of it they are now champions once again, something no one can take away from them.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central.

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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