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Game Preview: Rock vs. Knighthawks

Toronto, ON – On Saturday night, the Toronto Rock (3-3) face the Rochester Knighthawks (4-2) at Air Canada Centre at 7pm.  This East Division matchup has serious playoff implications.  Here’s a closer look at this week’s matchup.

Toronto Rock:

The Rock offence exploded last Friday night for 20 goals en route to a 20-10 drubbing of the Philadelphia Wings at Air Canada Centre to bring their overall record to 3-3 on the season. Leading the way was Garrett Billings who equaled a team record for most goals in a game with 6. Billings also posted 6 assists on the night for a 12-point performance, which sent him all the way to the top of league scoring leaders (44PTS) heading into Saturday (John Grant Jr. has since retaken the lead with 45PTS).

Many other players had big nights as well. Rob Hellyer quietly put up 1G-7A-8PTS. Captain Colin Doyle had 3G-4A-7PTS and Stephan Leblanc and Kasey Beirnes each had 4G-2A-6PTS.

Defender Scott Johnston not only scored his first goal of the season, but also took the majority of the face-off’s filling that role after the release of veteran Stephen Hoar earlier last week.

The Rock were outshot for the first time this season against Philadelphia, but received stellar goaltending from Nick Rose who recorded his team leading 3rd win of the season. He will be counted on to continue his strong play for the Rock.

This week presents another pivotal matchup for the Rock who take on another East Division rival in the two-time defending NLL champion Rochester Knighthawks. The Rock are currently one game back of Rochester for second-place in the East and will be looking to avenge a 12-8 loss at the Blue Cross Arena on January 18th south of the border.

Defenceman Patrick Merrill will make his season debut tonight after being placed on the Injured Reserve to open the season.  Mike Lum-Walker has been moved to the practice roster and Jeff Swift has been released from the practice roster.

Injury Report :

D Chris White (Lower Body)

Rock Fact: The Rock have beat the Knighthawks 3 times to capture the Champion’s Cup. (1999, 2000, 2003)

Rochester Knighthawks:

The Knighthawks are coming off a huge home win against the East Division leading Buffalo Bandits by a score of 9-6 last Saturday night. Cody Jamieson led the way with 5 points. The Knighthawks are 4-2 on the season and a half game behind Buffalo.

Offence:

Cody Jamieson leads the Rochester offence with 12G-18A-30PTS. Dan Dawson is close behind with 8G-19A-27PTS. Other offensive threats include Stephen Keogh, Cory Vitarelli and Mike Accursi who rejoined the club two weeks ago.

Defence:

The Knighthawks defence isn’t flashy, but gets the job done.  Scott Self has 31 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 offence’s top guns.

Between The Pipes:

A former NLL Goalie of the Year, Matt Vinc leads the league in save percentage at .821 and sits second behind Edmonton’s Aaron Bold among the league leaders Goals Against Average.

Who To Watch:

Besides Dawson and Jamieson, the Knighthawks will count on offense coming from the always dangerous Cory Vitarelli and Johnny Powless.

Joel McCready will not play Saturday night as he is serving a one-game suspension.

Toronto Rock