Georgetown resident Peter Veltman (right) of the Arizona Sting chases Aaron Wilson of the Toronto Rock during the teams' National Lacrosse League season opener at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto Saturday. Photo by Liesa Kortmann
Helps Arizona `Sting' Rock in NLL opener
Veltman relishes time in the desert
near-capacity crowd at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday was treated to a thrilling night of lacrosse and Georgetown's Peter Veltman played a key role in helping the visiting Arizona Sting start off the season with a 14-13 overtime victory. The 23-year-old defensive forward scored two of the Sting's eight second-quarter goals on the National Lacrosse League's reigning champs, the Toronto Rock, to give Arizona a 9-3 halftime lead. Yet the Sting had to win the contest in extra time after the Rock rallied to tie the score late in the fourth quarter. "We have a relatively young team and our enthusiasm got the better of us after scoring all of those goals," said Veltman from his parents' Georgetown home on Monday. "(The Rock) changed their gameplan a little in the second half and it's something we'll learn from. It was a great way to start though." Veltman and several of his Ontario-born teammates will move to the Phoenix area this week as Arizona has three consecutive home games coming up. In his second year with the Sting, Veltman is excited about the fledgling franchise's prospects in
what is basically a virgin lacrosse market. Arizona is owned by the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes, a group headed up by Wayne Gretzky, and the club averaged about 7,000 fans at its home games last season. Toronto defeated Arizona in last May's Champion's Cup final at the ACC. "Our season ticket base is up this year and it helps that we've got a young exciting team," Veltman added. "Some of the players will be going into the schools to talk to kids about the sport and there are also some lacrosse camps that we're involved with. We've just got to find ways to get people into the seats." There is also the dilemma about how he'll spend his off days, what with so many golf courses in the Phoenix area. On the floor, Veltman is an important defensive cog in the Sting lineup, but is also contributing offensively, albeit not as often as his Jr. A career, when he scored 148 goals in 118 games. Arizona used its quick transition game to burn the Rock during line changes for a few scores in Saturday's opener.
"Our strategy is to keep running on the other team and push the ball up the floor as much as possible," said Veltman, who had 16 goals and 16 assists in 24 games with the Sting last year. "As a defensive player, it's hard for me to set goals for offensive totals because my first obligation is to stop the other team from scoring. It is nice to know that I do have the green light to jump up into the play if the opportunity is there." The Sting finished 8-6 last year and was a heavy underdog in the 2005 championship against Toronto, but after making some acquisitions during the off-season, a rematch with the Rock and Veltman's uncle Jim in the spring is a strong possibility. "That's the way it usually is. Everyone knows you'll probably have to go through Toronto to win it all and we'd love another shot at it," Veltman continued. "Most of our players are from this area and everyone's always excited to play in Toronto in front of 18,000 fans."