The Toronto Rock play twice again this weekend against Canadian counterparts the Edmonton Rush and Calgary Roughnecks. On Friday, February 12 the Rush visit the Air Canada Centre at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, February 14 the Rock head to Calgary to face the 2009 NLL Champions for a game that will be shown live on TSN2 at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Before Friday’s game the Rock will honour Captain Colin Doyle. Last Saturday in Toronto’s 14-10 win at Buffalo Doyle recorded an assist on Josh Wasson’s goal for his 1,000th regular season career point.
“Colin will go down as one of the great ones to play, no doubt,” said Rock GM and assistant coach Terry Sanderson. “He is able to keep a lot of guys loose, but knows when to step up. A few guys have those capabilities, but he has them.”
Doyle now joins John Tavares and Gary Gait as only the third ever NLL player to accumulate over 1000 points in regular season play.
“To get in that company, it’s a pretty outstanding feat,” added Sanderson.
After coming off a double-win weekend, with triumphs over Philadelphia and Buffalo, the NLL announced yesterday that Toronto’s Blaine Manning was named overall and offensive player of the week, and Stephan Leblanc received rookie of the week honours. The pair combined for 31 points over the two games.
Toronto’s first challenge this weekend is the Edmonton Rush (3-2).
“They are going to be aggressive, hungry,” said Troy Cordingley, Toronto’s head coach. “They are coming off a loss and in this league you’re always trying to prove yourself and you get to do it the following week.”
Leading the Rush into Toronto is Brodie Merrill, 2009’s NLL Transition Player of the Year.
“Brodie is a phenomenal defender who pressures the ball well, and transitions the ball better than anyone in the league,” said Cordingley. “He’s a very smart defensive player, a good leader.”
Both Cordingley and Sanderson coach Merrill on the Brampton Excelsiors in summer MSL play.
“Terry and Troy are both very passionate, enthusiastic coaches, they demand a lot from their players,” commented Merrill. “They’ll be ready to go and prepared, we have to be ready to match that.”
“We’re going to try to limit the guys around Colin (Doyle),” added Merrill. “If he goes off on one of his one goal, eight assist games we’re in trouble. We have to try to shut him down and limit the guys around him.”
In Sunday’s Valentine’s Day matchup there will be no love lost as the Rock head to Calgary with their old coaches leading the Toronto charge. The Roughnecks sit in the middle of the NLL West Division pack with a 2-3 record to start the 2010 season.
“Records only say so much; in my opinion Calgary is still the best team in the league,” said Sanderson. “I thought that was the best lacrosse team I’ve ever been on and they are only getting better from last year with their new additions. I still think they are the team to beat.”
Though Toronto will not be looking past Edmonton in preparation for Sunday’s game, Sanderson still believes there will be plenty of time to get ready for last year’s champs.
“The short turnaround is no different than last week. The guys have done it so often they can regenerate energy and switch focus in no time,” he said. “We fly out on Saturday so we’ll have time to sit down and go over strategies ahead of time. That’s a plus for us.”
Single game tickets for Friday’s game are available through Ticket Master at www.ticketmaster.ca. Fans can watch Sunday’s game live from Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary on TSN2 at 6:30 p.m.