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With the Toronto Rock’s disappointing 9-7 loss to Boston last Saturday things have gotten a whole lot tighter in the National Lacrosse League. The Rock find themselves in a slim 0.5 game hold of 1st place in the East division with only one game seperating number one and last.
The visiting Calgary Roughnecks are riding a two game winning streak following a bye week, which came after they swept arch rival Edmonton in a home and home. However, they too are only holding on to top spot by a half game. This evenings battle will determine who will have the best record in the league and with the standings so close the action should be intense.
The Roughnecks and Rock know one another quite well as Toronto Head Coach Troy Cordingley and GM/Asst. Coach Terry Sanderson led Calgary to the 2009 Champions Cup before departing for their present club at the conclusion of that season. There is a mutual respect between both squads, “We have tight ties with the management team in Toronto and will give them the respect they deserve. We’ll do that by bringing our best game Saturday,” explained Calgary Head Coach Dave Pym. He continued, “the Rock are the #1 ranked team and are expected to win it all this year, it will be a huge step for us if we can beat them.”
With the bye, Calgary has been able to rest some weary bones, “We took a break during the off week, no practice, just lots of video analysis,” said Pym. On the other hand, Toronto turned up their practice regimen to try and refocus the struggling power play and sputtering offense. Rock GM Terry Sanderson explained on the NLL coaches call, “It is a concern, we have a pretty good offense here. Guys have to work every shift. This will be a true test for us against Calgary to see how we bounce back against one of the best defenses in the league”. In regards to the power play Sanderson commented, “We are working on it, we were one of the best last year and one of the worst this year. We need to get better ball movement.”
One of the weapons Toronto must try to contain is upstart rookie Curtis Dickson who was named January Rookie of the Month for his 10 goals and 15 points. Coach Pym said, “He brings his lunch pail everyday and has an incredible work ethic like all our players. Curtis is picking up good habits from his teammates. He’s a phenomenal kid.”
The NLL East and West All-Star lineups were released this past week with both Toronto and Calgary being well represented.
Calgary: Starters- Scott Ranger and Andrew McBride; Reserves- Geoff Snider and Jeff Shattler
Toronto: Starters- Colin Doyle (record breaking 9th All-Star selection); Reserves- Bob Watson, Garrett Billings, and Sandy Chapman
The action starts at 7pm at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Tickets can be purchased on the Toronto Rock website or in person at the ACC. I’ll be calling the game from the Gondola on the NLLNetwork.
Rock Tweets of the Week:
@Shakes1: “#NLL lack of scoring is an issue, how can the Rock improve on that after last weeks loss?”
- “need to change things up a bit. They were scoring 15 now 8. And last game 7.”
@KungPowLau “I enjoy the new ‘Rock Tweets of the Week’ section, Andy. Great way to engage fans”
@shankell “I know how!! More goals no, not the answer?! Ooook.” – in response to Rock’s lack of scoring
Tweet your Toronto Rock or NLL comments to @AndyMc81 and be included in the next “Rock Tweets of the Week”.
News from around the National Lacrosse League:
Overall Player of the Week: Rochester Knighthawks forward Shawn Evans
Transition Player of the Week: Rochester Knighthawks Jordan Hall
Rookie of the Week: Rochester Knighthawks Cody Jamieson
Defensive Player of the Week: Washington Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards
Offensive Player of the Week: Boston Blazers forward Dan Dawson
Games around the NLL:
Friday Feb. 11- The Edmonton Rush pick up their 1st win of the season against defending league champion Washington at home 14-12
Saturday Feb. 12- Buffalo @ Philadelphia, Colorado @ Boston, Minnesota @ Rochester, Edmonton @ Washington
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @: http://twitter.com/AndyMc81, keep an eye on the “Inside The Rock” blog, and visit NLL.com for all the latest Toronto Rock and National Lacrosse League action.
Andy McNamara is a sports broadcaster for the Toronto Rock lacrosse on the NLL Network, along with collegiate and minor league hockey, baseball, basketball, football, volleyball, and OCW pro-wrestling across the GTA on Rogers TV, Cogeco, and Durham College/UOIT.