Langley sniper Garrett happy getting top Billings in Toronto
Veteran sets assists record in 114-point season
Top billing apparently suits Garrett Billings.
The right-hander from Langley became the centrepiece of the Toronto Rock’s offence early in the season when veteran sharpshooter Colin Doyle was hampered with a leg injury. The go-to guy status never went, and Billings produced 114 points, which tied Paul Gait’s 2002 effort with the Washington Power for the third-highest total in the National Lacrosse League’s 26-year history.
Billings’ performance trails only the 116 points John Grant Jr. put up this season with the Colorado Mammoth and the 115 that John Tavares totalled with the Buffalo Bandits in 2001.
Billings’ 82 assists in the 16 games was a new league standard for the pro winter loop, too, bettering the previous high of 74, set by both Dan Dawson of the Boston Blazers and Josh Sanderson of the Calgary Roughnecks in 2009. He also broke Doyle’s Rock record of 111 points, set in 2005.
There aren’t many nicer neighbourhoods for your name lacrosse-wise than to be next to Gait, Grant, Jr., Doyle and Tavares in the NLL record book. “That’s the coolest part of it,” said Billings. Billings had 75 points last season with the Rock, including 31 goals. He had been tagged as more of a scorer than a playmaker in the past, something he says stemmed from field lacrosse, where he totalled 125 goals and 206 points in 69 games over four seasons with the University of Virginia.
“It’s always irritated me,” said Billings, whose most successful summer regular season came in 21 Junior A games in 2005 with the Burnaby Lakers, when he had 52 goals and 104 points.
“I’ve always believed that you have to be as good at one as the other.”
The Rock, the reigning league champions, won five of their final six regular season games to finish 9-7, which was good enough for the East Division crown. They open the one-game, single-knockout playoffs Saturday, hosting the 7-9 Buffalo Bandits in the division semifinals.
Billings has had success against the Bandits this year. He was in on every Toronto goal — four goals, 11 assists — in a 15-9 win at Buffalo on March 31.