The Toronto Rock have swept the National Lacrosse League player awards for January. Bob Watson was named Overall Player of the Month and Garrett Billings was named Rookie of the Month.
“Though none of our guys are out looking for individual accolades, I’m sure Bob and Garrett will be quite happy that the other coaches and GM’s have given them the nod for their great play last month,” said Toronto Rock general manager and assistant coach Terry Sanderson.
The NLL Monthly Player Awards are determined by a vote of the General Managers & Head Coaches of the league’s eleven member clubs.
Bob Watson, now in his twelfth year with the Rock, leads all league goalies with a 6.67 goals against average and a 0.846 saves percentage.
“Bobby came into camp in great shape; willing and ready to go,” said Sanderson. “He’s been really receptive of the changes we made on defence and caught onto them big time.”
In Toronto’s home matchup with the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday, January 23, Watson earned game MVP honors and was named NLL Overall and Defensive Player of the Week after holding the ‘Hawks to only 3 goals, the franchise’s lowest single-game goal total. He completely shut out Rochester in the first and fourth quarters.
At 39, Watson is one of the most veteran goalies in the league. Toronto’s head coach Troy Cordingley does not see age as a weakness, rather a strength.
“Experience, experience, experience,” repeated Cordingley. “You cannot buy experience, it only comes with age.”
In Watson’s three January wins he held the opposing team to seven goals or less.
Garrett Billings, a two-time NLL Rookie of the Week, leads Toronto in goals with 13. So far in this four game professional career, he has twice registered five goal performances, and scored the game winner in overtime against Boston on January 15 in the Rock’s home opener.
Cordingley and Sanderson drafted Billings as their first pick in the 2009 NLL Entry Draft knowing he was a strong player.
“He’s gone above what we have expected, but we knew he was a good ball player,” said Cordingley. “Garrett has performed as we hoped, and even done more. He fits very well into our team and fits in to our systems.”
“I’m going to be lying to you if I thought he’d have 13 goals at this stage,” added Sanderson of Billings’ performance. “Garrett is going to continue to be a very valuable piece for us.”
Thanks to Watson and Billings Toronto went 3-1 in January and began their season 3-0 for the first time since 2000. The Toronto Rock are at the top of the NLL East Division standings.
The Rock hit the turf twice this weekend. First they host the Philadelphia Wings at the Air Canada Centre on Friday, February 5, then travel to Buffalo on Saturday, February 6 to battle the Bandits at HSBC Arena. Both games are at 7:30 p.m. ET.