It’s been a lengthy journey for Nick Rose as he prepares for 2013 NLL season in Toronto

Nick Rose has been a backup for some of the game's best. Now it's his turn to shine as Toronto's goalie. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
Nick Rose has been a backup for some of the game's best. Now it's his turn to shine as Toronto's goalie. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)

Nick Rose will tell you, lacrosse is in his blood. Growing up in the lacrosse hot bed of Orangeville, Ont., the game has contributed to his growth and maturity as a professional athlete and human being. Rose, whose father passed away when he was only 2, spent a lot of time playing lacrosse at the Tony Rose Memorial arena, named to honour his father, who died in a car accident while on his way to pick up his son from the babysitters. Rose doesn’t have many memories of his father but spoke of a special occasion, when he visited his father’s gravesite, when he first won the Minto Cup in 2008. “That was pretty special”, said Rose, who credits the strength of his mother Kendra and his friends, and coaches for helping him on his journey. “I always had people looking out for me and when I was younger that was something key for my growth.”

Rose first started to play lacrosse at the age of 3.

“Everyone in house league, had to take a turn in goal,” he said. “I remember the first time they put me in net I was crying after the game because I hated it so much but the next time I tried it, I got into a groove and loved it and stuck with it ever since.”

One of his greatest memories, comes from his midget days, when his team came from behind to win the provincials championships with his best friends and head coach Josh Sanderson.

“We were kind of counted out after the first day,” admitted Rose after his team opened the tournament with three losses and had to win its way back into it. “We had to beat Brampton by 9 or 10 goals on Saturday and we beat them by 11. We just found a way and battled back and we won it.”

Orangeville went on the beat Whitby in the finals. Instead of making the jump to Jr. A and backing up Mike Poulin, Rose decided it would be In his best interest to hone his skills at the Jr. B level instead.

“It was huge for my development,” said Rose. “A lot of my buddies were playing Jr. B and I got a chance to take a lot of shots against some pretty good shooters.”

Rose made the Jump to Jr. A in 2007, where the Northmen came close to making the Minto Cup but lost to a powerhouse Six Nations squad in Game 6 of the OLA finals. The loss was both disappointing and motivating. Rose believes you have to lose first before you can win. That attitude has helped shape his career. Rose then won back-to-back Minto Cups in 2008 and 2009.

Coming out of Jr., Rose was drafted by the Brooklin Redmen but he has spent the last three summers on loan playing for the Coquitlam Adanacs in the WLA. While playing for the Boston Blazers in the National Lacrosse League, Rose’s teammates and fellow Orangeville Northmen graduates, Daryl Veltman and Gary Binning, talked him into coming to Coquitlam. Rose had to go through an excruciating appeals process with the CLA before Brooklin GM Wayne Colley eventually agreed to lend Rose to Coquitlam.

“I wish that appeal went a bit better than it had,” said Rose. “But as long as I want to go out west I still can. When I come back though I am still Brooklin’s property, which is alright.”

The 2012 season was Rose’s best out west, starting 17 games, picking up 10 wins. Rose led all goalies with a 7.53 goals-against average, .875 save percentage and 607 saves. Rose was named the 2102 WLA player and goalie of the year.

With the NLL training camps set to begin Rose is still looking to prove himself at the professional level.

“Goalies don’t seem to step right into the NLL from Junior,” said Rose. “There are a lot of good players in this league who have paid their dues and I think you just have to stick with it and get better every chance when you get on the floor.”

Initially drafted by the Rock in 2008, Rose was released after three weeks of training camp, but with the help of Jon Harnett, Rose got a try-out with the now defunct Boston Blazers. Rose had the chance to backup Mike Poulin and Anthony Cosmo.

“These are the two guys who have shown me the ropes in pro,” said Rose. “For me my first two years were about getting better and taking as many shots as I could get.”

Rose lived in Boston with a handful of guys in a house that was close to the rink.

“It was pretty much like living in a frat house with a bunch of lacrosse guys, said Rose. “We were close to the rink so I got a lot of shots in.”

The Blazers suspended operations before the 2012 season and Rose was left wondering where he would go next. The Calgary Roughnecks acquired Rose from the dispersal draft and once again he found himself backing-up Poulin again, this time splitting backup duties with Frankie Scigliano.

It was around mid-season the Toronto Rock were without a starter and looking for help in goal. Rock GM Terry Sanderson, familiar with Rose from his playing days in Orangeville, saw the opportunity to acquire and up-and-coming goalie. Rose, who still hadn’t started a game in the NLL, was told by Sanderson he had four days to get to Toronto; he was going to be the starter next game.

“I was almost glad it was so hectic,” said Rose. “It didn’t give me that much time to think about things. So I just went in there and played.”

Rose won his first game and finished the season with an impressive 5-1 record, helping the get the Rock into the semifinals, before losing in 17-13 to the eventual NLL champion Rochester Kighthawks. Rose and the Toronto Rock will have another shot at the Knighthawks as the teams will faceoff for an exhibition game set for Dec. 8th at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec.

Even though his stellar record since coming over to Toronto, Rose has not been promised a starting position.

“The coaches told me I have to go out and earn it,” said Rose. “For some people that might be something to worry about, but for me that is something that I want to hear from my coaches and they are not just handing out jobs to anybody and that means the rest of my team have to earn their spots as well.”

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