Tomorrow will mark the beginning of a new season for the Toronto Rock, one being touted as the season of the “New Look Rock”. Toronto will travel the HSBC Arena to take on the Buffalo Bandits in their first game of the 2005 Regular Season schedule. These teams have a long standing history that fans look forward to experiencing each year and last year was no exception. Toronto and Buffalo faced off 4 times in 2004, with the Rock walking away with a 3-1 record. Despite Toronto’s regular season performance, the Bandits came on strong in the playoffs and ended the Rock’s 6th run at the Champions Cup. Following the disappointing end to the 2004 season, Head Coach Terry Sanderson used the off-season to make a number of changes to the lineup. The desired goal was to improve the team on both ends, with a concentration on the Rock’s defense.
NLL veterans Phil Sanderson, John Rosa, and Brian Beisel will join Rock familiars Dan Ladouceur, Glenn Clark, Pat Merrill, Ian Rubel, and Derek Suddons on the back end. Rookie Luke Forget, who had 4 assists in last week’s exhibition game against Philadelphia has also been added to the lineup.
Both NLL MVP Jim Veltman and Chris Driscoll will both maintain their positions as fierce transitional players, posing a threat at both ends of the floor.
Between the pipes, Bob Watson will return as the number one goalie for the team in 2005. The seasoned goaltender finished with the 4th lowest Goals Against Average in the League (11.14) and recorded the 6th highest save percentage in the League (0.755%) in 2004. Watson will be backed up by John Preece who spent the 2004 season playing Senior B lacrosse with the OLA Ajax-Pickering Rock.
Out front, Rock favorites Colin Doyle, Blaine Manning, Aaron Wilson, Sandy Chapman and Matt Shearer have returned for another season. Adding more fuel to the Rock’s fire power will be Josh Sanderson, Rusty Kruger, Nick Trudeau and rookie Jimmy Quinlan who shined this summer playing for the WLA Coquitlam Adanacs.
Friday’s game against the Bandits is sure to be an action packed rematch as the Rock seek retribution for the loss in last year’s semi-finals. The game will not be broadcast on television but fans can catch the action as it is broadcast on The New 640 Toronto. Live game coverage begins at 7:00pm with a pre-game hosted by Joe Bowen and Blair Campbell.