Toronto – The Toronto Rock made a bold move at the 2012 NLL trade deadline by essentially going back to the drawing board with their goaltending situation. The Rock released veteran goaltender Matt Roik, acquired in the off-season to be the successor to first ballot NLL Hall of Famer Bob Watson, subsequently making a trade to acquire young netminder Nick Rose from Calgary.
The trade seemed to pay off instantly with the Rock going from last place in the East Division to regular season division champions as Rose went 5-1 down the stretch.
This summer, the 24-year old Orangeville, ON native is playing for the Coquitlam Adanacs of the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA). The WLA is one of two Canadian amateur summer lacrosse leagues that many of the NLL’s brightest stars participate in during the NLL off-season. The winner of the WLA will face the winner of Ontario’s Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) for the Mann Cup, emblematic of the Canadian Senior “A” Championship.
The goaltender that wears number 66 to honour his father’s memory (his dad Tony wore number 6 so Nick put two of them together) has been playing lights out this summer and it hasn’t gone unrecognized by his peers in the WLA.
Recently, the WLA announced that Rose had been named the league’s top goaltender and then on Friday, he was given the WLA’s highest individual honour being named the Most Valuable Player. Rose also earned the nod as a WLA first team all-star.
“Winning an individual award is great and I really appreciate the honour but at the same time I’m just trying to win games and I hadn’t even thought about the award,” said Rose who with a stingy 7.53 GAA and a .825 SV%. “We went through a stretch where we could have missed the playoffs, but we ended up playing our best ball to get in. I know it’s a cliché, but our defence has been unbelievable this summer, just letting me see a lot of outside shots. I’m ecstatic about the award, but I’m not looking to stop there.”
Rose’s Adanacs didn’t get off to a great start this season losing four of their first five games. Early season struggles in the WLA and MSL can often be attributed to fluctuating rosters as the summer teams work on getting their NLL stars back in the lineup as many players take time off at the end of the pro calendar or play the league minimum number of regular season games to qualify themselves for playoff action.
“After starting slow we had to play catch up,” said Rose of the Adanacs 1-4 start to the WLA season. “We got on a roll and won 9 of our last 13 games to make the playoffs.”
After that rough start, Rose and his Adanacs saw their turnaround lead them from out of the playoffs to a third place regular season finish and a ticket to the post-season dance. Coquitlam is tied with Victoria at 2 games apiece in their best-of-7 first round WLA playoff series with the winner advancing to face Garrett Billings and the Langley Thunder who swept Burnaby to advance to the WLA finals.
“I’m not looking forward to playing against him as much as I am looking forward to playing with him this winter,” said Rose, talking about the chance of facing his Rock teammate Billings. “The possible matchup is an exciting challenge, but we have to finish the job against Victoria before I can even start to think about facing Garrett and the Thunder.”
In many cases, the WLA and MSL provide players with an opportunity to develop their game for the NLL and also audition for a potentially larger role come the winter when the best league in the world hits the turf in January.
“Every night I’m seeing an NLL offence,” said Rose. “I’m a big believer that the more shots you face from the top talent in the world, the better you’re going to get.”
Since suiting up for the Rock and finally breaking through as a starter after backing up for the better part of four seasons, Rose has certainly begun to map his route towards becoming one of the top netminders in the NLL. It’s something that isn’t at all shocking given his play at the Junior A level with the Orangeville Northmen capturing a pair of Minto Cup Canadian Junior A titles in the final two years of his junior lacrosse career.
“Getting traded to Toronto was the best thing that could have happened to me,” exclaimed Rose. “I was just going through the motions being a backup in Boston and Calgary and not getting much playing time. The trade was good for playing time, but going to such a great group and having some success gave me the confidence I needed to find my game again. The opportunity in Toronto got me going again, I carried it over into the summer and I want to carry it over into the NLL season in January.”
The news of the individual honours bestowed on Rose started a flurry of activity on Twitter from Rock fans excited about the upcoming 2013 season and what level of success could be on the horizon with the young goaltender in the Toronto cage.
“I’m so excited and I like the group we have,” expressed Rose. “From ownership down to the coaches and management it’s just a great place to play. It’s a great opportunity to compete for a championship and any time that’s a possibility it brings with it a level of excitement. I’m not a guy who likes to lose and that’s the same with everyone in our group. That playoff loss to Rochester will fuel us. Putting it together early and getting a good start is important. We have a bunch of guys who want to win and put in the hard work to achieve success. I couldn’t be more excited.”
Toronto Rock 2013 Season Tickets will go on sale to the general public in the coming weeks. Last week, the lacrosse club announced the details of the OLA Registration Rebate program that offers a kickback of up to $25 per season ticket purchased. That amount will be applied directly to the season ticket holders’ child’s 2013 minor lacrosse registration reducing the costs for players to participate in Canada’s national summer sport. For more info on the OLA Registration Rebate program, please visit www.torontorock.com/olarebate.