Rock Report: Matt Roik Feature

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By Jordan Maxwell

The day before a game, Toronto Rock goalie Matt Roik tucks himself in at night with thoughts of the next game on his mind. ‘What can I do to help my team win?’ — just one of the many questions that goes through his mind before he takes his place as the Rock’s most important defender.


ust hours before the game gets underway, he puts his left shoe on before his right, gets the rest of his gear together and keeps to himself in the dressing room as he visualizes what awaits him when he steps on the battlefield in front of thousands of screaming fans who either hope to see the Rock fail to all avail or thrive to stay alive. Nevertheless, after 12 years in the league, his aspirations on the lacrosse field have never changed, never wavered — his goal is to win. “I want to win championships and I’m salivating for the chance to get to the playoffs. There’s nowhere else I’d want to play,” said Roik. “The guys in that room are unbelievable and you can’t count how many rings they have on their hand. It’s always a pleasure to walk into that room and play with those guys. I feel really privileged to be a lacrosse player right now. “To have an opportunity to play with the players in that locker room and this coaching staff is great. I just can’t say enough about the ownership in Jamie Dawick and how he treats the players. It’s been a long time coming but I feel very blessed and very grateful to say the least to be a part of that room,” he said. It’s easy to forget that Roik is already a champion having won with the Washington Stealth in 2010, a Minto Cup with the Burnaby Lakers in 2000 and a Mann Cup with the Victoria Shamrocks in 2003. However, most recently as a backup for Stealth standout Tyler Richards, Roik feels that the opportunity to shine as a number one goaltender in the NLL has finally arrived. “I’d like to be that guy,” said Roik. “Any guy who’s been in a supporting role like that, you just don’t feel as if you’ve earned it. I had a good regular season but



Roik is only the second starting goaltender in the 14 year history of the Rock to earn your colours, you’ve got to be in the game. You’ve got to sweat with these guys and that’s what I strive for. “And who better but with then the Toronto Rock,” he added. They are one of the most storied franchises in the NLL with six titles to their credit. If that wasn’t enough of a pressure-filled legacy to uphold, the legacy of Bob Watson certainly tops it off. When the Rock acquired Roik in a trade with the Stealth for defender Kyle Ross on July 25th of last year, he immediately became the guy that was going to be tasked with the responsibility of filling Watson’s


“There’s nowhere else I’d want to play … I feel really privileged to be a lacrosse player right now.” — Matt Roik

shoes. But he’s quickly shown that the Rock made the right choice in Roik. “He shows up to practice and games ready to work and go at it,” said Terry Sanderson, General Manager of the Rock. “He’s delivered everything that we thought he would going into this. You need veteran leadership and he’s been in the league for quite a while but he’s a completely different team guy and he’s a more well-rounded player than he was in Philadelphia when I worked with him before (in 2007).” However, with just his drive alone, it’s clear that the pressure doesn’t buckle him — he’s the one handling the strap. “Obviously what Bob’s done goes without saying,” Roik explained. “He’s etched himself in the game of lacrosse. But the only pressure that comes through (is what I give myself.) I am my biggest critic no matter what. I have a job to do and the accolades and accomplishments of Bob make it that much more important to get the job done.” “I can’t ask for a more ideal situation. The teammates I have make the game comfortable for me and that makes it much more rewarding to be in a position like this,” said Roik. Coming from Dunnville, Ontario — 45 minutes west of Niagara Falls — who knew that the former baseball and hockey player would be in such a position, after such a long career? Roik became a goalie at the age of 12 when he was recruited to play peewee lacrosse in Dunnville. “I remember watching and saying that you had to have a screw loose to want to jump into that position but next thing I knew I was in it,” he said. Eventually, he would dedicate himself to the game of lacrosse and developed the passion along with the camaraderie with players and coaches that have kept up his unyielding love for the game. “I ended up loving it — loving the camaraderie and the game. It was just the fast-pace of it and I loved being a goalie because you never get to take a shift off,” he said. “It was something that you look forward to and you didn’t have the spectacle of having to be

At 6’5” Roik is the tallest Rock player on the roster. in the limelight like hockey. You were able just to play something that you love.” And that he does, Toronto Rock head coach Troy Cordingley said about his starting tender, who talked about his goalie’s drive to win. “He’s been asking for video on the shooters and he’s working closely with (goalie coach) Steve Dietrich,” Cordingley said. “That tells me all about him right there. He’s still a student of the game and still wants the team to do well, but he knows the more prepared he is, it’s going to help our team out.” “I think he’s been our best player to be honest. In the first game against Calgary, he’s the one who kept us in the game when they were dominating us and beating us at every aspect of the game. He doesn’t say much, but you can tell that he’s focused and he wants to do well for our team,” he added. That’s all that matters for Roik; being on a team that doesn’t rely on the power of speech for motivation fits nicely with his personality as a player. “When it comes to this dressing room, I don’t think that there has to be a lot to say. I think that words kind of fall on deaf ears, especially with this group. Actions definitely speak louder than words and right now I think it’s about getting wins and getting the final product of what we want,” Roik said. •



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