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The Toronto Rock are the class of the NLL with a league leading 7-2 record as they soar into enemy territory at Philadelphia on Saturday. The Wings are currently last in a very crowded East Division, yet sit a mere 2.5 games back of the first place Rock.
Each club is coming off a successful week as Philadelphia got back to .500 following an impressive 10-9 win over Buffalo, while Toronto swept a home and home pair of matches versus Rochester.
Wings head coach John Tucker is pleased of his squad’s fourth victory of the season, but knows there is still work to do. “We’ve been inconsistent on our home turf. At 4-4 we’d like to be a bit better; it’s good that we’re in the mix.” He continued, “Toronto has so many weapons and are very unselfish. Our 5 guys will need to be on guard the whole time.” Philly and Toronto will get to know one another quite well. Following this evening’s encounter they will square off again on March 4 on the Rock’s turf at the Air Canada Centre.
Despite their hot streak, Toronto general manager/assistant coach Terry Sanderson will not be taking Philadelphia lightly, “we won’t be over confident against this very athletic club who beat both Boston and Buffalo this year.” The Rock’s offense finally came back around last weekend, getting into double digit scoring and the power play showing signs of life. “All special teams are important down the stretch. Good to see our guys get rewarded a bit with the man advantage,” explained Sanderson.
Both teams are playing for success this year, however, each possess young stars who are turning into building blocks for the future. Philly defenceman Dan Hardy has impressed coach Tucker, ”He’s a young kid, but incredibly gifted. You can’t coach his size and soft hands. It was good to see him break out in the Buffalo game.” The Rock’s Terry Sanderson also has praise for his upstart rookie Aaron Pascas who twice was named NLL Rookie of the Week. “The staff is very pleased with Aaron’s work to this point. He’s scoring a bit more then we thought he would. He’s doing a lot of good work on the left side that sometimes goes unnoticed too,” said Sanderson.
The Wings will have to find a way to penetrate Toronto’s stingy defense and the stellar goaltending of Bob “Whipper” Watson. Game time is 8pm at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Rock Tweets of the Week:
@Shakes1 “great to see the Rock get into double digits the last 2 games with stellar defense #NLL #Rock”
@rawcomputers “@shankell hahaha i’d love to see that! Are you going to do another interview at the Rock game with @AndyMc81?”
@briguy100 “WOO I MADE IT IN! RT @AndyMc81: #Rock Tweets of the week on my @FAN590 blog”
@LAXUNLIMITED “@AndyMc81 Reppin’ the Canucks”
To have your tweets on the Rock or lacrosse included send me a tweet @AndyMc81
News Around the National Lacrosse League:
The NLL holds their All-Star game this Sunday at the Event Center in the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, presented by the Oneida Indian Nation. The battle of the league’s best starts at 2pm and will be captained by John Tavares of the Buffalo Bandits for the East and Colorado’s John Grant Jr. for the West. The Toronto Rock’s Colin Doyle will serve as assistant captain for the East All-Stars.
Overall Player of the Week: Toronto Rock goalie Bob Watson (two low scoring wins over Rochester)
Offensive Player of the Week: Toronto Rock forward Garrett Billings (6G, 3A, 11 loose balls in the pair of victories vs. the Knighthawks
Defensive Player of the Week: Washington Stealth defender Jeff Moleski (3G, 4 loose balls, 1 forced turnover)
Transition Player of the Week: Boston Blazer’s Ryan Hotaling (23 loose balls, 64% on faceoffs)
Games Around the NLL:
Saturday Feb. 26: Edmonton @ Rochester
Sunday Feb. 27: West vs. East All-Star Game
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. He will also be the play-by-play voice of the 2011 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships in Prague, Czech Republic this May.