The Toronto Rock are ready to honour one of their all-time greats.
Jim Veltman captained the Rock for 10 seasons, winning five championships. And on Friday, his number 32 will join Colin Doyle’s number seven and Bob Watson’s 29 on the rafters at Scotiabank Arena prior to the team’s final regular season home game against the New England Black Wolves (7:30 p.m.).
Nicknamed ‘Scoop’ during those early days when Rock players all got nicknames, Veltman earned his rather easily. Veltman still holds the NLL career record for loose balls with 2,517 and led the league in that category 14 times in 16 seasons. He also won three titles with the Buffalo Bandits. His greatness is not lost on the current captain.
“He’s obviously one of the best to play the game and one of the best to put on the Rock jersey,” Challen Rogers said. “It’s a big night for him but it’s also a big night for us to go out there and perform.”
The Rock could use a boost against the Black Wolves, who beat Toronto 13-11 in Uncasville, Conn. in February and at 8-7 still have a chance to knock Toronto (10-6) back to fourth in the East.
“We’re striving to play a full 60,” Rogers said. “We need to put a full game together before the playoffs.”
The Rock split their two games last weekend, winning 12-11 over the Buffalo Bandits before losing 12-10 to the Rochester Knighthawks in a game which they fell behind 7-3 in after 30 minutes.
“Our first-half performance did us in,” Rock head coach Matt Sawyer said. “You see the push we had in the second half. If we came out and played like that for 60 minutes, the result would have been different.”
New England is led by Callum Crawford, currently tied for second in NLL scoring with 93 points, trailing just Calgary’s Dane Dobbie who has 99.
“There a big team. They’re physical. They have a big smart offence, a lot of tough checks,” Sawyer said. “We’ll have to be good in all areas and we’ll have to find a way to get to (goaltender) Doug Jamieson who has been playing really well for them.”
“With Crawford and Joe Resetarits up there, they move the ball well,” Rogers added.
Tom Schreiber leads the Rock with 79 points with Rob Hellyer close behind at 77.
By Richard Mauntah
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019