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Game Preview: Rock @ Knighthawks

 

The Rock dropped to 1-1 on the season after losing 12-10 to the Buffalo Bandits in Week 3 of the NLL season.

Captain Colin Doyle had 3 goals, the first of which was his 400th tally in a Rock uniform. Lefty Stephan Leblanc added 3 goals, bringing his total to 8 on the season. Garrett Billings had 4 assists to add to his league leading total of 13.

Defenceman Craig England has been placed on the Suspended List and will serve one game.

Rookie Eric Law has been moved to the Active Roster and will make his NLL debut in Rochester this week.

Veterans Patrick Merrill, Bill Greer and Chris White are still on the Injured Reserve.

Offensive Coach Blaine Manning says this week’s matchup will be a big test.

“They’re the two-time defending champions. We expect a very tight game with little room to make mistakes. We just have to come and play the game we want to play.”

The Knighthawks meanwhile, sit atop the East Division and are one of two unbeaten teams in the NLL (Edmonton being the other). They opened the season with an 8-6 win over Minnesota before topping the Philadelphia Wings 13-9 last week.

Knighthawks Coach Mike Hasen said even with the unbeaten record, they have to be ready to play the Rock.

“They’re going to come out hungry and even more passionate to beat us in our barn. There are still issues and things we need to get better at, we went through a period in the third quarter last week against Philadelphia, where we didn’t score any goals and we got caught on the back of our heels. That’s something that we have to look to improve on.”

 

Here’s A Look At How The Two Teams Match-Up:

Toronto Rock

Offense:

Stephan Leblanc and Colin Doyle continue to have the hot hand for the Rock. Leblanc has 8 goals in two games including 5 in the home opener vs. Calgary. Doyle is second on the team with 5 goals. Garrett Billings leads the NLL with 13 assists.

Defence:

Sandy Chapman continues to be a model of consistency on the back-end for the Rock. He currently leads the defence in loose balls. Damon Edwards also seems to be finding his groove and rookie Ethan O’Connor has showed well in his first two NLL games.

Between The Pipes:

Nick Rose had a strong showing last week in Buffalo shutting out the Bandits in the first quarter and only allowing 2 goals in the second. One of the premier netminders in the league, Rose will be counted on to carry the bulk of the minutes this season.

Who to Watch:

Rookie Eric Law makes his NLL debut. He’s only played a handful of box lacrosse games, but managed to find the back of the net 3 times in two pre-season games with the Rock. Josh Sanderson needs only 1 goal to reach 400 career NLL goals.

 

Rochester Knighthawks

At The Helm:

A longtime Knighthawk player, Mike Hasen has made the transition to coach and led Rochester to the past two NLL finals capturing back-to-back Champion’s Cups.

Offense:

Dan Dawson leads the Knighthawks on offense with 5G-7A-12PTS. Cody Jamieson trails Dawson by 1 Point picking up 3G-8A-11PTS through the first two games.

Defence:

Scott Self has 11 loose balls for Rochester. Veterans Ian Llord and Paul Dawson are both keys out the back door and are counted on to shut down the opposing offense’s top guns.

Between The Pipes:

Matt Vinc leads the NLL in both GAA (7.50) and Save Percentage (.837). He will likely get the start against the Rock.

Who To Watch:

Besides Dawson and Jamieson the Knighthawks will count on offense coming from Joel McCready, Johnny Powless and Stephen Keogh.

 

Toronto Rock