Edmonton Rush (0-3) @ Toronto Rock (0-4), Air Canada Centre, Jan. 27, 7:30 p.m.
Television: Rogers Sportsnet East, Ontario, West / Radio: The Team 1260 in Edmonton
Broadband: B2 Networks, ITVN
TORONTO – The Toronto Rock and Edmonton Rush didn’t have a lot in common entering the season. While the Rock was focused on defending a championship, the Rush was merely looking for a way to build a strong team to compete in a high-parity National Lacrosse League.
Now both teams have mirrored each other in starts, losing a string of close games and determined to get their first win in tonight’s game at the Air Canada Centre.
Both teams admit they have to convert on power plays and cut down on uncharacteristic turnovers to rebound.
Manning on a Mission
For Rock forward Blaine Manning, tonight is an opportunity to play against some old friends and teammates. Manning, a native of Sherwood Park, Alta., just west of Edmonton, hopes to get the Rock back on track with a win against his hometown Rush.
“It’s time for us to grab a win, it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to get back on track,” said Manning. “And I grew up with some of those guys, so I am excited to play against one of my best friends, Darren Hillier.”
Manning was Hillier’s best man this summer and the two have been friends for years. They began their Jr. A careers together in Victoria.
But Manning will be leaving the friendship off the floor. Along with his teammates, Manning is more determined than ever for victory.
“What can I say, we need a win,” Manning said. “We had one of the best practices I’ve ever had.”
“We worked extremely hard, there was lots of intensity, and by far the best practice of the year.”
Quickstick Quinlan looking for victory against former team
Former Rock forward Jimmy Quinlan leads the Rush in scoring entering tonight’s game and is hoping for a victory in his return to Toronto.
“They’ve got a great coaching staff in Toronto, I’m sure they’ll be ready to play,” Quinlan told the Fan 590 on last night’s Rock Report. “But our coaching staff does a great job preparing us for every game. We’ll be ready to go.”
Quinlan leads the Rush in scoring with 14 points. Toronto’s Colin Doyle leads the Rock in scoring entering the game with 24 points.
Rock transition player Chris Driscoll, who has been a defensive leader for the squad, knows the team will pick it up against Edmonton. He went as far as guaranteeing a win when put on the spot by Jeremy-John on SUN TV’s The Grill Room on Wednesday night.
“There has to be a challenge, a sense of urgency, going into this game,” he said earlier in the week. “Edmonton’s going to want to beat us, they’re just like everyone elese gunning for us as the defending champs.”
“They have a great defence and some great intensity, so we can’t take them lightly.”
Toronto travels to Calgary to play the Roughnecks at 3:30 p.m. at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Sunday Feb. 5, in a pre Super Bowl Battle of Canada. Fans can listen to the game joined in progress on the Fan 590 (www.fan590.com) or watch live on Rogers Sportsnet.