TORONTO – The Toronto Rock may be out of their slump, but things don’t get any easier thanks to a tough first-half schedule.
Tonight, the Rock will test their might against the Rochester Knighthawks, a team that has more trouble performing in the friendly confines of the ACC (3-7 all-time at Toronto, 10-0 in regular season home games at the Blue Cross Arena). The K-hawks won the first meeting between the teams, handing the Rock a lopsided 14-9 defeat at the Blue Cross Arena on Jan. 14.
But Toronto came off a tough game just one night before, a grueling 13-10 loss to the Buffalo Bandits. Toronto will come into this game five days rested after an impressive 14-10 win over the Calgary Roughnecks on Feb. 5. Blaine Manning led the Rock with 5 goals in that game, while Bob Watson made 39 saves, several of the spectacular variety and proved he is back in top form.
Doyle, Sanderson top League
Both Colin Doyle (14 G, 26 A) and Josh Sanderson (12 G, 28 A) are tied for the NLL lead in points and they are on pace for 107 points (6.67 points per game). Sanderson, who set the NLL all-time record for assists in a season at 71 helpers, is on pace for 75 assists, which would be a new record. He enters the game with 28 assists (4.67 assists per game average).
On the flip side, Bob Watson is at the bottom of the stats pile with a league-high 12.40 goals against average. However, he has the third highest number of saves this season with 201 and is improving every game, with two consecutive wins over Edmonton and Calgary.
Special Teams to Be Huge Factor
Rochester’s power play is the top in the league entering tonight’s game with a 47% ranking entering the game. Toronto’s power play is 4th in the league at 41%, and the short-man unit, which held the Calgary powerplay scoreless five times on Feb. 5, is ranked 6th in the NLL with a 62% efficiency.
Right after tonight’s game, the Rock will return to their beds to rest before an early flight to Edmonton prior to tomorrow night’s 10:30 p.m. tilt against the 0-5 Rush at Rexall Place in the Alberta capital.
Former Rock youngster Sandy Chapman will make his return to the Air Canada Centre tonight after being acquired by Rochester in the off-season. Chapman, left unprotected by the Rock, was drafted by the Edmonton Rush in the Expansion Draft this summer and then part of a packaged trade to the Knighthawks for standout defenceman Andrew Turner.
Oh Brother, where art thou?
Brothers Scott and Shawn Evans, a pesky pair from Peterborough, will be in the lineup tonight for Peterborough. In the first encounter between the teams, rookie Shawn Evans tallied his first career goal and hat-trick against the Rock before being ejected for a scrap with Rusty Kruger as the teams stepped on the floor to begin the second half.
Saturday Feb. 11 – Toronto Rock at Edmonton Rush (0-5) 10:30 p.m. Eastern (Live Rogers Sportsnet West, tape delayed until Midnight Rogers Sportsnet East and Ontario); Live Fan 590 AM; Live B2 Networks (www.b2networks.com)
Friday Feb. 24 – Hall of Fame Game
Philadelphia Wings (3-1) at Toronto Rock, Air Canada Centre, 7:30 p.m.