Players to watch in the Champion’s Cup

  • Fri May 14th, 2010 11:49pm
  • Sports

By Mark Nelson Herald Writer

Washington

Lewis Ratcliff, forward — Part of Washington’s high-powered offensive unit, Ratcliff placed second in the league with 97 points. The Victoria, B.C., native scored a league-leading 46 goals and earned sock-tricks (six goals in one game) three times this season, including twice at home. Ratcliff came to the Stealth last December when he was the main component of Toronto’s trade for Colin Doyle.

Rhys Duch, forward — Duch was crowned the 2009 Rookie of the Year with an 89-point season (35 goals, 54 assists) and followed that up with an 86-point year with the Stealth in 2010. Duch, who scored 33 goals and 53 assists this season, took his game to a new level late in the season when he scored a sock-trick in consecutive games. The second-year pro from Victoria, B.C., scored six goals in the season’s final game against the Rochester Knighthawks and added another six goal game in the West Division semifinal against Minnesota as an encore.

Paul Rabil, transition — The man they call “The Beast” came into his own in his second year in the league. Rabil, arguably one of the best one-on-one players in the league, sent the Stealth into the Champion’s Cup with a game-winning goal eight seconds into the overtime period in last week’s West Division final against the Edmonton Rush. The Gaithersburg, Md., native scored 11 goals and 26 assists this season while grabbing 84 loose balls. Rabil, a Johns Hopkins University graduate, had 16 goals, 18 assists and 60 loose balls last season.

Eric Martin, defenseman — Martin is the enforcer for Washington. The Norfolk, Va., native collected a team-leading 113 loose balls and is closing in on the Stealth franchise record in the same category. An active and big defender, Martin is known as much for his fiery attitude and passion as for his prowess on defense.

Tyler Richards, goaltender — Second-year goalie Richards split time in the net with fellow goalie Matt Roik this season, but Richards has established himself in the postseason with two straight wins, 84 saves and an .800 save percentage for the Stealth. Richards went 5-4 in the regular season with a .771 save percentage and 11.40 goals against average.

Toronto

Colin Doyle, forward — The 13-year NLL veteran has a commanding resume. The Kitchener, Ontario native is a five-time champion, three-time Champion’s Cup Most Valuable Player, 2005 league MVP and ranks third all-time with 1,049 career points. Doyle, who played three seasons for Washington before being traded to Toronto last December for Ratcliff and others, led Toronto with 84 points this season (22 goals, 62 assists). He is revered just as much for his lacrosse I.Q. and leadership as his scoring abilities.

Blaine Manning, forward — A three-time champion with Toronto, Manning scored 82 points (35 goals, 47 assists) for the Rock this season. A consistent performer, Manning has never scored less than 20 goals in his nine NLL seasons. The 2002 NLL Rookie of the Year, Manning tied the Rock single-game record for points by recording 13 (five goals, eight assists) in a game against Buffalo in 2003.

Stephan Leblanc, forward — Recently named the 2010 NLL Rookie of the Year, Leblanc, a Langley, B.C., native came close to breaking Rhys Duch’s league record for points in a season by a rookie (89). Leblanc, 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, scored 82 points for Toronto with 36 goals and 46 assists. The rookie leads the Rock with 12 postseason points (seven goals, five assists).

Garrett Billings, forward — Leblanc wasn’t the only Toronto rookie to challenge Duch’s rookie record. Billings, also of Langley, B.C., scored 83 points (33 goals, 50 assists) as the league’s highest-scoring rookie this season. The University of Virginia graduate has scored five goals in a game twice this season and scored two goals in Toronto’s East Division finals win over Orlando on May 8.

Bob Watson, goaltender — Watson led the league with a 9.31 goals against average and ranked fourth with a .789 save percentage this season. A five-time champion with the Rock, Watson has helped guide Toronto through the postseason with a 9.75 goals against average and 64 saves. A two-time goaltender of the year, the 40-year-old netminder has been an essential piece of all the Rock’s championships.