Toronto, ON – With Toronto Rock training camp just a couple of days away, it’s time to focus on the last line of defence and examining the three-way dance that is the competition for playing time guarding the Rock goal this season.
All three candidates come with varying levels of experience on their resume and are all at various stages of their careers.
Brandon Miller is the most established and accomplished of the group as he enters his 15th season in the NLL. Nick Rose has some time under his belt in this league as a starter with a record of 22 wins and 15 losses, and has paid his dues with stops in Boston and Calgary before arriving in Toronto in 2012. Steve Fryer has seen very limited playing time in the NLL, just 61 minutes in fact. He only saw 13 minutes of relief work in 2014 with the Rock, but had a very impressive summer with the Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks of Ontario’s Major Series Lacrosse (MSL).
The one thing they all have in common, however, is they are all still looking for their first Champion’s Cup title.
“It’s going to be a battle to see who is going to be the starter,” said Rock Head Coach John Lovell. “The advantage we have is that we have three legitimate goalies coming to camp and they are going decide who will be the starter. They are all going to get a chance to play. We don’t have that designated number one guy like Rochester or Buffalo, they have one guy to ride as much as they can. We will have 2 guys. Do we run with the hot guy or do we give them both a chance, we are in a good situation where we will always have a solid guy in there.”
When Miller came to Toronto via trade in March, he lost his first start against Edmonton and then won his next two decisions beating Vancouver and Philadelphia. He played well in all three games but Lovell went to Rose for the Rock’s next game, a must win at home against Buffalo, and Rose responded with a great performance and earned the win. Miller finished out the regular season with a win at Minnesota, allowing only 6 goals.
“It’s a gut feeling sometimes,” explained Lovell. “You have to play a hunch a bit when you have two guys that can play and just trust your gut.”
But if one guy emerges this year as a number one, will he become the guy?
“If someone is playing like that, that he is the number one guy and you can’t get him out of the net, we’ll run with that. Sometimes it’s a matter of keeping guys ready so they are ready to go when you need them. We have two guys that can be starters, but they can also come in off the bench. Fryer has also shown that he can do the same,” Lovell said.
There are only nine starting jobs in this league and with the rate at which starters play, goaltending is arguably the most competitive spot on a roster.
Goalie (3): Steve Fryer, Brandon Miller, Nick Rose
Toronto Rock training camp will open on Saturday at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre with players hitting the floor at 2pm for a 2-hour session. Toronto Rock training camp is open to the public to attend.
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