TORONTO – The Toronto Rock are set to begin their quest for 6 in 06. The defending NLL champs hope to win their sixth title in the franchise’s short eight-year history, but the road to repeat as champions not an easy one.
Head coach and general manager Terry Sanderson knows full well the Rock are in a new position this season, despite being pegged as the fifth-best team in the league in preseason polls last season, the Rock won the championship boasting a league best 12-4 record, the league’s best power play and three of the top five in points along the way (Colin Doyle 111 pts, Blaine Manning 105 pts and Josh Sanderson, 101 pts on 71 assists and 30 goals).
Tickets for tonight’s contest (Jan. 7 Sting @ Rock, 7 p.m., Air Canada Centre) are still available online at ticketmaster.ca or in person at the ACC box office between 9:30 a.m. and gametime today.
Coach Sanderson said he tried to get a little tougher this year to protect the Rock’s top offensive players.
“We saw a few times last year that some guys on the other teams took advantage of some of our top offensive guys so we tried to address that in the off-season,” said Sanderson, whose son Josh and nephew Phil play for the team. “We added guys who could not only play tough but add in other ways and contribute to improving our club on the whole.
Among them is former Calgary Roughnecks defender Brad MacDonald, a tenacious player who can play well defensively but who also has a decent touch around the net.
Joining MacDonald as a defensive acquisition is former Minnesota Swarm defender Scott Campbell, who was acquired by the Rock in a trade with Edmonton (the Rush picked Campbell up in the Expansion Draft) for Jimmy Quinlan.
The Rock also added J.J. “Judge ‘n’ Jury” Dickie as a free agent signing. Dickie is ranked fifth on the LaxMag fight club rankings entering the season.
On the offensive side of the ball, Mat Giles comes over from Rochester.
The Peterborough, Ont., native will add some scoring touch, size and experience to the Rock’s left side.
Also joining the team will be forward Jason Henhawk, a standout in the Ontario Lacrosse Association Sr. B circuit this summer when he led the Mohawk Stars to the President’s Cup tournament.
Other newcomers are forward Matt Taylor (Brock University) and Chet Koneczny (York Univeristy). These two students are both studying in kinesiology and both hope to use their experience on the practice roster to eventually land a spot on the Rock’s 23-man active roster.