The Toronto Rock are set to open up their season against the Calgary Roughnecks for the third season in a row. Toronto swept the season series with the Roughnecks last season, winning 13-11 in Calgary in the 2013 season opener. The Rock took the second meeting by a score of 17-12 at home in February. Garrett Billings led all runners with a combined 15 points in the two meetings. Shawn Evans led the way for the Roughnecks with 9 points. Both teams finished first in their respective divisions. The Roughnecks led the West with a 9-7 record. The Rock sat atop the East with an NLL leading 10-6 record.
Here’s A Look At How The Two Teams Match-Up:
At The Helm:
The biggest change for the Rock this season will be behind the bench as former Assistant Coach John Lovell was named Head Coach by GM Terry Sanderson this off-season. Recently retired Rock great Blaine Manning will run the offense while former Rock defender Dan Ladouceur will lead the defence and Pat Campbell will work with the goaltenders. Veteran Coach Matt Sawyer was also retained as an Assistant to Lovell.
The Rock will look to a number of familiar faces to lead them back to the top of the East Division Standings. Key returning players include Captain Colin Doyle, 2013 leading scorer Garrett Billings, Kasey Beirnes, Stephan Leblanc and Josh Sanderson. Nick Rose is back between the pipes, as well as backup Zak Boychuk.. Joining O’Connor on the defensive side of the floor will be veterans Stephen Hoar, Patrick Merrill, Scott Johnston and Rob Marshall.
Among the new faces are 2013 first round pick Ethan O’Connor (9th overall). Also making the team out of camp were Defenders Craig England and Dustin Dunn. Dunn was activated from the Practice Roster, when Chris White was placed on Injured Reserve on December 29th (lower body).
Who To Watch:
Forward Garrett Billings is fresh off his second straight 100-plus point season and is always an offensive threat when he’s on the floor. Kasey Beirnes led the Rock with 31 goals last season. Josh Sanderson and Colin Doyle are the veterans on the team, but still can be counted on to make big plays and score timely goals.
At The Helm:
Curt Malawsky is entering his second season as head coach for the Calgary Roughnecks and also serves as the team’s Assistant GM. Malawsky will be assisted by Bob McMahon as offence coordinator and Bruce Codd as defence coordinator. It’s the fourth season for McMahon on the Calgary coaching staff, while Codd is entering his second season with the Riggers.
Captain Andrew McBride leads a group of 16 returning players on Calgary’s roster this year. Joining McBride on defence for another season is Dan MacRae as well as the brother combinations of Mike and Scott Carnegie and Greg and Jon Harnett. Back from last season at forward are Jeff Shattler, Shawn Evans, Curtis Dickson, Daryl Veltman, Dane Dobbie and Matthew Dinsdale. Geoff Snider and Curtis Manning return as transition players for the 2014 season. Mike Poulin will once again be the starter in between the pipes, while Frankie Scigliano will be counted upon as one of the back-up goalies.
The four new faces on the Roughnecks roster came from the 2013 NLL Entry Draft. Transition players Tor Reinholdt (1st round, 6th overall) and Karsen Leung (2nd round, 10th overall), defenceman Garrett McIntosh (3rd round, 24th overall) and goalie Peter Dubenski (4th round, 34th overall) all made the squad out of training camp.
Who To Watch:
Shawn Evans was named last season’s NLL MVP after posting a league leading 112 points. Curtis Dickson led the team in goals with 42 and Dane Dobbie wasn’t far behind with 40. Jeff Shattler finished second in team scoring with 74 points.