Toronto – The Rock will open their regular season in the Windy City this weekend when they take on the Chicago Shamrox at the Sears Centre at 8:00 p.m. EST on Saturday January 5th. Saturday evening’s game will be the debut of a revamped Rock team geared up to begin their run to a Champion’s Cup in 2008.
The Rock, who will be looking to fire up their tenth year in the NLL with a road win, split their two games with the Shamrox during the 2007 season. The Rock won the first game at home 11-10 while losing the second on the road in Chicago by a score of 15 -13. Both games saw Toronto’s Ryan Benesch, Aaron Wilson, Blaine Manning and Josh Sanderson have great offensive outings, each averaging four points. For Chicago, Mat Giles was the difference maker versus Toronto recording seven goals and four assists in the two games.
The 2008 edition of the Rock have a very experienced and exciting core group of returning players from the 2007 campaign. The Rock will be led by Toronto mainstays Manning, Wilson and Sanderson as well as goalie Bob Watson and long time captain Jim Veltman, who is playing in his final NLL season this year before his retirement. Starting forward Ryan Benesch also returns with his first season under his belt alongside the NLL Rookie of the Year honours from 2007.
Joining this year’s returnees are a few experienced newcomers: 2007 NLL All Star Peter Lough, formerly of the Arizona Sting, former Shamrox captain Cam Woods and Kasey Beirnes, who was acquired in a draft day trade with the Minnesota Swarm. Lough and Woods bring a seasoned presence to Toronto to compliment the already tough defensive rotation. Beirnes, a league-wide known skilled shooter will add to the equally potent Rock offensive line having scored 23 goals accompanying 20 assists last season for the Swarm.
Aside from the new veteran presence, the Rock added three fresh rookie faces to the roster this season. Rock’s first pick in the 2007 NLL Entry Draft Mark Scherman (2nd round, 21st overall); Orangeville native Nate Sanderson and free agent defenseman Jay Winder.
The Rock were in good shape during the preseason, beating the Minnesota Swarm in their first game before the holidays by a score of 17-12 in Oshawa, while dropping a fourth quarter comeback heart breaker to the Rochester Knighthawks, 14-13 last weekend in Barrie, Ont.
The Rock vs. Shamrox game will be available online live via the B2 Network with coverage beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST. The live webcast can be purchased online for $7 USD. A high-speed internet connection and a current version of Microsoft Windows Media Player will be required to watch the game. Fans can access the webcast by clicking the B2 icon on the home page of the newly designed and re-launched Toronto Rock website, www.torontorock.com.