There are benefits to not being a National Lacrosse League all-star, even for players with deserving numbers. Just ask Toronto Rock forward Aaron Wilson, who had yet another big-time performance in a 15-9 win over the Rochester Knighthawks last night at the Air Canada Centre.
"I get to have fun (last night)," Wilson said after scoring five goals before 16,372 fans on the eve of the NLL all-star game today in Calgary (2 p.m., NBC; tape delay, 7 p.m., The Score). "I don't have to worry about going to the airport."
Instead of hopping aboard a charter at 12:30 a.m., this morning, Wilson got to celebrate as the Rock (5-2) vaulted into top spot in the 10-team NLL with its third win in a row.
The Rock moved ahead of the Buffalo Bandits (5-3) for first place in the East Division after Buffalo lost 14-8 against the visiting Philadelphia Wings last night. The Rock plays host to the Bandits next Friday.
Wilson has 11 goals in his past three games, giving him a team-leading 21 this season. He was signed by the Rock in 2003 after spending the previous season buried on the Albany Attack practice roster.
"I work hard away from the rink," Wilson said. "I knew I could play in this league. It was just a matter of time before I got my chance. I took advantage of it."
Another Rock non-all-star who has stepped up recently is goalie Bob Watson, who has held the opponents to 10 or fewer goals the past three games. Watson, who has rebounded after a slow start to the season, outplayed the East Division's starting goalie, Rochester's Pat O'Toole, by a large margin. In fact, O'Toole was pulled temporarily after the Rock went ahead 5-0. Toronto never trailed last night.
"I'd be lying if I said (facing) O'Toole wasn't a motivating factor," said Watson, who made a sliding stop on Shawn Williams and a great shoulder save on Steve Penny in the second half. "I know he's a good goalie so I've got to be on top of my game to try to get a win."
The Rock did a fine job against NLL scoring leader John Grant Jr., who had a quiet two-goal, four-assist game.
"If you want to look at somebody who destroyed John Grant, Chris Driscoll and (Brian) Beisel did a great job on him," Rock general manager/coach Terry Sanderson said.
The Rock exacted some revenge on the Hawks (5-4), who swept a home-and-home series last month, including a stunning 15-6 win in Toronto.
Blaine Manning, who had a game-high eight points, Jim Veltman, Glenn Clark and Colin Doyle will represent the Rock at the all-star game.