Soft Rock roll over in shocking defeat

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Remember the impressive new-look Toronto Rock? The positive early reviews, apparently, were a tad premature.

The Rock (2-1), the only undefeated team in the National Lacrosse League entering a home-and-home series against the Rochester Knighthawks, set a franchise record for fewest goals in a game and struggled defensively in a 15-6 loss at the Air Canada Centre last night.

The rematch is tonight (7:35, The Score, 640 AM) in Rochester, where the Rock is 0-7 against the Hawks (2-2) in regular-season play.

"We're better than this ... everybody knows it," said Rock captain Jim Veltman, who made his season debut in front of 16,087 fans after recovering from a pulled right hamstring.

"We'll come up with a better effort (tonight). We don't want to wait a few weeks to play them again. It's gratifying to know we'll play them again (tonight)."

The Rock's previous record-low goal total was seven. The nine-goal loss equalled the worst loss at home in the team's seven seasons -- Toronto lost 19-10 in a semi-final game against the Buffalo Bandits last year -- and was the largest margin of defeat in the NLL this season.

It was so bad that sharp Hawks goalie Pat O'Toole, who stopped 44 of 50 shots, had more points (four) through three quarters than the Rock had goals (three).

Needless to say, the Hawks dominated the transition game.

Dominant on offence and average on defence in the first two games, the Rock was awful in both departments last night, especially in the first half as Rochester carried a 9-3 lead into the dressing room.

This time, Rock goalie Bob Watson, way off his game earlier this season, couldn't be singled out. A traditional defensive powerhouse, the Rock is the worst defensive team in the NLL this season.

"Teams before, you knew the guys and you knew the adjustments they were going to make," Rock defender Dan Ladouceur said. "We're still learning and feeling each other out, but we' have to make adjustments quicker, especially against a team like Rochester. They just kept burying it and burying it."

Rochester's Scott Evans, sporting a deep cut under an eye after a fight with Ladouceur, led the way with four goals. Hawks star John Grant Jr., who blew by new Rock defender Phil Sanderson for a goal that pretty much summed up Toronto's defensive problems, had two goals and four assists. Blaine Manning and Josh Sanderson has two goals apiece for Toronto.

Rock general manager/coach Terry Sanderson said he'll make three or four lineup changes tonight.

"We had a lot of weak goals and it was stuff we talk about all the time," Sanderson said. "Not naming guys, but a couple of guys I'm disappointed with their efforts. And when you're not scoring and going that long without getting goals, it's tough for the D to try to get stops."


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