TORONTO – The Toronto Rock may be on a five-game winning streak, but will face a tough test against the surprisingly talented Minnesota Swarm at the Air Canada Centre March 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre.
Rock head coach and general manager Terry Sanderson said the Rock is not taking the Minnesota game lightly. Sanderson said the Rock is aware of the talent on the young Swarm squad.
“(The parity) is typical of our league,” said Sanderson. “People ask if you’re surprised at how close these games are and I’m not. It’s something you get used to.”
“There’s a lot of names there that a lot of people may not be familiar with,” he added. “(But) we had the luxury of scouting them live in Edmonton and in Buffalo so we know we’ll have to spend some extra time going over some of the things they do… some teams may be surprised with their success but we’re not taking them lightly.”
“They’ve got our attention and the rest of the league’s.”
One of the Swarm’s goalies, Nick Patterson has caught the attention of the league with his hot play as of late.
“Young Patterson has played very well, there’s no question, (but) we’ve gotta prepare the same for this game as we do the rest, regardless of the goalie,” Sanderson said. “All the goalies in the East are great. We’ll just stick to what we do well and what we’re good at.”
The Rock won the last meeting between the teams, 19-15, at the ACC last January.
The Swarm, who will travel Friday after Rock game to play against the Bandits on March 4, have been in town since Wednesday. Head coach Adam Mueller hopes to begin the weekend with a win and end the Rock’s five-game winning streak.
“It would be a tremendous confidence boost for us (to get a win over Toronto),” Mueller said. “I figured they would get on a roll after losing the first four and unfortunately we caught them on their roll.”
Mueller said getting an early lead and protecting it will be key.
“Last year (Toronto) controlled the fourth quarter well and came back and won lots of games,” Mueller added. “They’ve been doing it since they’ve been in existence.”
The Swarm will likely go with Nick Patterson in net on Friday night against the Rock, it’s a nice luxury they have with two capable starters in net.
“We’ve got (Matt) Disher and Nick and this weekend we’ll play each one in a different game. I still think we have two starting goalies. We’ve been going with Nick more so lately just because he’s been so hot. He absolutely just stood on his head for a while.”
“Even though we gave up 14 goals against Buffalo, (Nick) helped us to avoid a laughery. Nick stopped just about every transition play.”
“A lot of our players are from Toronto so hopefully we can put our ‘A’ game out there. We’ll see where we come out.”
Despite leaving the game late in the fourth quarter last Friday Feb. 24 against Philadelphia, Sanderson said defenceman Dan Ladouceur will be ready to go March 3.
Unfortunately for the Rock, the same cannot be said for forward Matt Shearer, who is out for about a month with a broken arm.
“Matty’s going to be a 4-5 week project here,” Sanderson said. “He broke his arm and had plates and screws inserted. It’s an unfortunate situation for Matt. We’ll miss him quite a bit.”
Stephen Evans will see his first game action with the Rock this weekend after being signed to the Active Roster on Feb. 24.
“This will be Steve’s first game with us and obviously the move was made before Matt Shearer went down,” Sanderson noted. “We’re lucky to bring in someone with league experience. He played for us (Sanderson and Rock assistant Matt Sawyer) in Ottawa. His role (with the Rock) took on a little more importance with Matt going down.”
“… And maybe he’ll baby-sit his younger two brothers next time we meet Rochester.”
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