Toronto, ON – This Saturday night the Toronto Rock travel to Buffalo for the most pivotal game of the season for both teams. At stake is sole possession of first place in the NLL Eastern Division, and more importantly, the season series. A win will give Toronto a 2-1 edge over the Bandits, which could become a deciding factor as playoffs approach.
This match-up promises to be another classic between familiar rivals. In a storied history, the Rock and Bandits have faced each other 14 times since 1999. On the surface, the Rock have the upper hand, with a 10-4 record that includes wins in 7 out of 8 on home turf. That being said, the Bandits upset the Rock in the Playoffs last year and beat them again 14-12 just 3 weeks ago to take temporary hold on first place in the Eastern Division.
“The last game we played against this team was a classic lacrosse game,” says Toronto Rock Head Coach and GM Terry Sanderson. “Buffalo played well and we threw everything we had at them and still came up short.”
The Bandit offense is more multi-dimensional than in past seasons. Although the focus remains perennial all-star John Tavares, teammates Jason Crosbie and rookie Delby Powless are now contributing with more consistency. However, injuires have nagged Buffalo all year. Rich Kilgour, Kyle Couling and Clay Hill are all hurting to some degree and this might open the door for the Rock offence.
Off-season moves by the Rock have allowed its offensive production to be spread more evenly. Colin Doyle, Blaine Manning and Josh Sanderson — the three top producers – are supported by the likes of Aaron Wilson (46 points on 28 goals and 18 assists) and Matt Shearer (22 points on 10 goals and 12 assists). One thing is certain. Familarity breeds contempt. These teams don’t like each other. “Neither team has the element of surprise in this match up and this is going to be another tight game this weekend,” warns Coach Sanderson.
Catch all the action live from Buffalo on the Score Television Network at 7:30pm, or on AM 640 Toronto radio. Pre-game coverage on 640 begins at 7:00pm with Joe Bowen and Blair Campbell.