Oakville, ON – The Toronto Rock (10-3) travel west to face the Calgary Roughnecks (3-8) on Saturday night at 9pm ET at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Rock won the first meeting of the season in Toronto on January 31st by a narrow 12-11 margin on a late goal by Josh Sanderson. Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on tsn.ca and TSN GO.
The Roughnecks have won 3 of their last 5 games after starting the season 0-6 and boast one of the most dangerous offensive groups in the NLL. The evidence of that scoring prowess was on full display in their 20-9 victory over New England last week.
“I still believe Calgary is one of the best teams in this league,” said Rock Head Coach John Lovell. “They present an unbelievable challenge in terms of their offence. They have 4 or 5 top players and I think the acquisition of Sean Pollock compliments that group. They’re always a major challenge to defend. It’s always difficult to play in Calgary and we’re looking forward to it.”
Rock forward and NLL leading scorer Rob Hellyer was moved to the Injured Reserve and rookie forward Brandon Benn was placed on the Active Roster from the Practice Roster. It’s a significant loss for the Rock, but it’s one that the offensive group is confident they can overcome.
“Robbie has been fantastic this year,” said Rock forward Kevin Ross. “Losing him is obviously a big hole for us. We’re not an offence that’s going to rely on one guy on any given night to get the job done. We’ve got a great player in Brandon Benn stepping in and I think he showed in preseason that’s he’s an NLL caliber player. We don’t expect him to replace Rob, but we expect him to have a good showing. We’re expecting to and hoping to not miss a beat this weekend.”
Calgary forward Shawn Evans (83 points) is hot on the heels of Hellyer (85 points), sitting just 2 points behind him in the league scoring race. The Roughnecks sniper has played two fewer games than Hellyer and will likely take over the scoring lead this weekend. Alongside Evans, Curtis Dickson is second among the league’s goal scoring leaders with 33 tallies.
Even without their top gun, the Rock have a very deep offensive group with each of the other 5 Rock forwards having scored 40 points or more already this season. Brett Hickey’s 33 goals have him tied with Dickson for second spot in the NLL and Josh Sanderson leads the league in assists with 66. The NLL record of 82 assists, currently held by Garrett Billings, is sure to fall with 5 games remaining on the schedule. It should be noted that Billings set the record in a 16-game season, 2 less than Sanderson will have a chance to play this season.
The Rock are 19-9 all-time against the Roughnecks and are 8-5 in 13 encounters in Calgary. Toronto’s last visit to Calgary wasn’t so successful. The Roughnecks posted a convincing 19-13 win over the Rock last March in Toronto’s most recent trip to cowtown.
Toronto’s next home game will be Friday, April 3rd against the Rochester Knighthawks on Toronto Rock Alumni Night. For the BEST ticket in town and more information, please visit torontorock.com or call 416-596-3075.