TORONTO – Winning a championship is certainly easier than defending it, so the Toronto Rock are learning early in the 2006 season.
The Rock, despite solid offensive production and gutsy comeback bids, are winless to start the `06 campaign as they enter the HSBC Arena tonight looking to rebound from the shaky start.
Head coach and general manager Terry Sanderson said he is happy with the effort he’s receiving and feels he has the right players on the team in the Rock’s quest to win an unprecedented sixth title in eight seasons.
As the talk of the league with the unexepected start, the Rock coaches are exercising patience.
“The only message you can give (the players) at this time is to keep working hard and doing the things we’re doing,” Sanderson said in the weekly NLL media call. “We had a good game against Buffalo, we played well. Things just didn’t turn out how we wanted… In Rochester we were sluggish… The guys know they maybe need to bring a harder work ethic. We’re happy with the effort we’re receiving from these guys, hopefully this weekend we’ll get out of this funk.”
Sanderson said the only area he would like to see improvement in is on offence.
“I would just hope that offensively we start making a few more of our chances. If there is a sore point it’s that we’re generating a lot of shots but not finishing with regularity. If anything I’d hope we can get a little crisper in that area.”
While many pundits have questioned the goaltending of Bob “Whipper” Watson, Sanderson is sticking with him.
“Bobby’s our guy,” Sanderson said. “We’ve got all kinds of guys questioning that. But we’re going with that guy. Everyone in that room believes in him. He had his nay-sayers last year, but he proved them wrong.”
History on Rock’s side
In 10 meetings at the HSBC Arena, Toronto has won eight times. The last five games between Buffalo and Toronto have been won by the visiting team.
“I don’t think we go into Buffalo any more confident than we do with any other rink,” Sanderson said about going in the cozy confines of the HSBC. “If you’re not confident, you’re not going to be successful, you’ll get into a bad start right away… [But] I don’t think there’s any magic with that, it seems to be one of the buildings we do seem to play a lot better in but I don’t put a lot of time into thinking about that.”
Toronto hosts the Edmonton Rush on Proline Night, Friday Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen live on Rogers Sportsnet Ontario/East/West. Fans can also listen to the game on the Fan 590 (www.fan590.com) or watch live on B2 Networks. There will be a number of prizes for fans courtesy of PROLINE, where anything can happen, anyone can win.