Crease Dives – Let’s Get It Started
By Mike Hancock
A New Beginning
With the appointment of a new commissioner in Nick Sakiewicz, every NLL fan has a renewed sense of optimism when it comes to the growth of the league. In his media teleconference on Thursday, he focused on several key growth areas including TV, a digital platform and a greater online presence and developing grass roots programming that will help grow the sport’s fan base for years to come. These are all things NLL fans are craving. And for those people who aren’t fans yet, Nick is comin’ for ya!
For fans wishing to get to know the new league boss a little better, he will be one of my guests on the first episode of Toronto Rock Total Access which will air on Tuesday night at 11pm on TSN 1050 Toronto. The podcast will also be available at torontorock.com and on iTunes.
There is no doubt that Colin Doyle is the leader of this team, serving as the captain. On Saturday night, when the NLL season begins he will pull on his Rock jersey for the 209th time in the regular season. That number is significant as he will surpass Rock all-time great Bob Watson for the most games played as a member of the Toronto Rock. Another accolade for one of the best the game has ever seen.
In the Rock’s final pre-season matchup against the Georgia bees, it was no secret that 2015 NLL first round draft choice Chad Tutton was deeply embedded under the skin of several Toronto players. It wasn’t until late in the game that Rock pest controller Billy Hostrawser tried to engage Tutton in a fight. By that time, the game was over as the Swarm had already booked a 17-12 win. Despite all of their new toys on offence, a big reason why the Swarm are tougher to play against is the addition of Tutton.
Rock head coach John Lovell has stated that it will be a game day decision as to whether he dresses six or seven forwards in Saturday’s Rock season opener. If there’s seven forwards in the lineup, that means we’ll see the regular season debuts of both Turner Evans and Dan Lintner. Even if we only get to see one of these two it’s only a matter of time before we see both in action. These two are just going to be fun to watch. Whether it’s the floor vision of Evans moving the ball with incredible ease or Lintner’s filthy finishes in tight on the run, it’s going to be delightful to watch these two dynamic and highly skilled players mature.
Spark plug Billy Hostrawser has 2 career goals on just 6 career shots. Yes, that means he’s scored at an incredible clip throughout his career given the number of shots he’s taken, so I say, let the kid shoot! He’s also been super clutch with one of those two career goals being a game-winner, coming in a 20-11 win over Vancouver in 2015. Or, maybe Billy can stick to doing what he does best and that’s antagonizing the opposition to no end with his in your face and in your head brand of defence.
In relation to the verdict on whether or not to dress six or seven forwards in Saturday’s opener, in the coming weeks there will be even more decisions. Forward Kevin Ross is targeting a return in the coming weeks and defenceman Scott Johnston also could be back before the season’s quarter pole. There’s also the arrival of defender Bradley Kri who played 14 of 18 regular season games last year with the Stealth. He’s currently one of four players on the Rock’s practice roster. I think Martha Stewart said it best when speaking about having depth on your roster, it’s a good thing.
What Does The Fox Say?
Toronto Rock fans looking to watch the season opener can find the game online on FOX Sports GO. Fans do not need a subscription, nor will they need to create an account and login. All you need to do is visit foxsports.com/foxsportsgo and you’re in the game!
That’s all for now, muse amongst yourselves…