Toronto, ON 05/14/05 – In front of an NLL record crowd of 19,432 fans and a national television audience on NBC, the Toronto Rock captured their fifth NLL Champion’s Cup by defeating the Arizona Sting, 19-13 on Saturday afternoon.
The atmosphere inside the ACC was electric as team introductions were made. By the time Michael Burgess had finished the national anthems, you could feel the excitement and apprehension of the sell-out crowd, all waving white cheer towels in support of the hometown Rock. In a one-game final anything can happen and early on the Sting took it to the Rock, grabbing a 2-0 lead on goals by Craig Conn and Chris Seller. The Rock did not lack for scoring chances and before long had countered by scoring four of the next five goals to take the 4-3 lead. Josh Sanderson, spurred on by the fact his coaching father Terry had never won an NLL Championship, potted back-to-back goals to push the Rock further in front. But NLL playoff scoring leader Conn finished his first half hat-trick to tie the game at 6-6. Toronto blew the game open in the last 5:15 of the first half, building a comfortable halftime lead. Doyle captured his own team’s rebound and buried the ball past Sting goaltender Miron and Aaron Wilson followed with back-to-back goals, giving the Rock a 9-6 lead.
Jonas Derks came out of the locker room for the second half on fire. Derks scored Arizona’s first three goals (all power-play), cutting the lead to 11-9. However the veteran-laden Rock would not be denied, kickstarting a run of their own with Colin Doyle’s late third quarter goal, followed by four of the first goals in the fourth quarter, giving Toronto a 17-11 lead.
Cue the Whipper, Bob Watson, experienced netminder for the Rock.
Watson shut the door on Arizonia most of the final frame, allowing only two late Sting goals. The crowd held their collective breath in fear, but Rock Captain Jim Veltman potted two empty net markers to put the win on ice. The final two minutes was marked by a standing ovation from the hometown fans, as they raised the roof on a packed ACC!
Colin Doyle was named Vonage Most Valuable Player, leading the Rock with five goals and three assists.
Blaine Manning (3g, 5a), Josh Sanderson (3g, 4a), and Aaron Wilson (3g, 3a) also recorded hat-tricks for Toronto. Jim Veltman (2g, 4a), Matt Shearer (2g, 1a) and Sandy Chapman (1g, 2a) rounded out the scoring. Bob Watson recorded 32 saves, improving to an amazing 5-1 career record in the Champion’s Cup Final.
The Toronto Rock Lacrosse Club would like to thank all of the fans, as well as all of the employees and volunteers with the club. Without the support from all sides that this club receives, the road to this championship would have been much more difficult. Well done, and we look forward to seeing you all for another great season in 2006.