Last night's game between the Toronto Rock and the Rochester Knighthawks had a great deal of drama attached to it. Playoff implications were everywhere. After the dust had settled, the Rock had scored an important 15-7 victory, guaranteeing a playoff appearance. At last, a Toronto sports team made it into post-season action. Everyone was happy, and the Rock certainly were the dominant team.
But the game was also interesting for a couple of the veteran warriors on the floor. John Grant Jr. of the Knighthawks and Bob Watson of the Rock, were key players. In a sport of young men, it was refreshing to see two wily veterans have a vital role.
Watson recently celebrated his 40th birthday. Forty year old athletes are no longer a rarity in sports, but for the difficult and demanding position of goaltender, being on the wrong side of 40 is usually not an ingredient for success. Watson certainly has had his ups and downs this season, but then again, so has the entire team. When he is on form, Watson is one of the most athletic goaltenders in a sport where size and bulk usually are what the goalies rely on. Last night, Watson made some incredible saves, showing speed and agility of a much younger man. One scoop save in particular stood out, denying Rochester any chance of getting back into the game.
Grant's story is even more dramatic. He missed the entire 2009 season because of a serious knee injury that became infected. Reports said that the infection destroyed the ligaments in his knee and almost took his life. A cadaver's ligament was eventually placed in the joint and a year of fierce rehab and re-conditioning followed. His return to competitive lacrosse is nothing short of a miracle. To be sure, Grant has lost speed and agility, but he made two plays reminiscent of the Grant of old. On one, he was in close on Watson and unleashed a wicked behind the back shot that rang off the goalpost. On the other, he scored while on the ground under a pile of Rock defenders. The strength of Grant's shots, based on uncanny wrists and hands, is legendary and he has not lost any of that.
I enjoy seeing ageing stars continue to shine in any field where younger people are supposed to be the center of attention. Well done, Bob and John.... long may you rock, long may you roll !!!