Rock forward on comeback trail

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:05 AM ET

Now that his bad days are behind him, Nick Trudeau is ready to prove he can play in the National Lacrosse League again.

Tonight, the talented Toronto Rock forward will begin his much-anticipated comeback attempt.

Trudeau, out of the NLL last season after a difficult breakup with his longtime common-law wife, will make his Rock debut tonight when Toronto (2-0) opens a home-and-home series against the Rochester Knighthawks (1-2) at the Air Canada Centre. The rematch is tomorrow night in Rochester.

"It was tough to swallow (sitting out last season)," said Trudeau, 28, who scored a career-high 38 goals with the Albany Attack in 2002 and played in the NLL final against the Rock. "I was staying at home (in Windsor with his two young sons) and I couldn't really go anywhere ... But I'm ready to play (now). Everything has come full circle."

Mentally and physically, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Trudeau struggled after the breakup. He ballooned to 237 pounds and when the Attack moved to San Jose last season, the team wanted players to re-locate. Trudeau couldn't do that with two boys to bring up and he wasn't flooded with other offers.

"I was only 26 and I didn't really know how to go with it," Trudeau said. "I didn't really do well with it."

It was the second time Trudeau didn't have an NLL job. Trudeau, who began his NLL career in 1998 with the Buffalo Bandits, returned to the NLL with the Columbus Landsharks in 2001. He had a reputation as a bit of a party guy, though Trudeau feels it was an unfair billing, and teams seemed hesitant to commit to him.

But he made his mark in Albany, scoring a combined 69 goals in 2002 and 2003. This summer, Trudeau led an 0-18 Windsor Warlocks major team in scoring, raising the eyebrows of Rock general manager/coach Terry Sanderson.

"I talked to a lot of people to get some information and the people who played with him endorsed him," Sanderson said.

So Trudeau went to mini-camp with the Rock, notched a hat trick in the first exhibition game and earned a roster spot.

"I'm really grateful for this opportunity," said Trudeau, who has worked for a furniture delivery company for the past year. "I've got to run with it."

BRIEFLY

Rock captain Jim Veltman (hamstring) and defender Glenn Clark (knee) also will make their season debuts tonight ... The Rock-Philadelphia Wings game that was snowed out last Saturday will be played April 2 in Philly.

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UPDATE

After two one-goal losses to open the season, the Rochester Knighthawks broke an 11-11 tie with the final four goals of the game to beat the host Anaheim Storm 15-11 last week. Hawks star John Grant scored the first three goals in the four-goal run ... Tonight is a homecoming for Hawks assistant coaches Ed Comeau (head coach with the Rock last season) and Sean Ferris (head scout for the Rock) and Hawks forward Ken Millin (1998-2004 with Rock) ... Tonight's game is especially important for the Rock -- the NLL's only undefeated team -- as Toronto never has won a regular season game in Rochester.

INJURIES

Rock: none. Hawks: D Marshall Abrams (ankle) is questionable.

LEADING SCORERS

Rock: Blaine Manning 6-9-15, Josh Sanderson 3-12-15, Aaron Wilson 8-5-13. Hawks: John Grant 11-10-21, Mike Accursi 6-9-15, Shawn Williams 5-8-13.


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