The losing streak is over. Finally.
The expansion Edmonton Rush competed hard but fell 14-8 to the Rock last night at the Air Canada Centre.
Several problem areas for the 1-4 Rock were corrected in the team's first victory of the season.
For one, the team's much-maligned power play -- the NLL's best last season, but only middle of the pack in 2006 -- finally came through with a 4-for-8 effort. The improvement came largely because the team was passing the ball more crisply and because Rock coach/general manager Terry Sanderson moved savvy captain Jim Veltman to the point on the power play for the first time this season.
Rock forward Blaine Manning wasn't surprised the move worked so well.
"(Veltman's) the smartest guy in the league by a mile and he makes little decisions out there that make our lives a lot easier," Manning said.
Besides the power play, the fine performances of Manning and goaltender Bob Watson, two key Rock players who had not been playing up to expectations so far, were crucial in leading the Rock to victory.
Manning collected ten points and Watson, with 48 saves, was back to his old form, particularly in a first quarter that saw the Rock outshot 17-11.
Josh Sanderson with 11 points, league-scoring leader Colin Doyle with 10 and Aaron Wilson with five goals also were at their explosive best as the Rock finally moved the ball for long stretches on offence like the championship teams of old.
The Rock got things started early as Josh Sanderson and Doyle connected in the first minute of the game. Chris Driscoll followed seconds later. Edmonton replied, but Wilson made it 4-1 with a power-play marker. Driscoll's second made it 5-2 after a quarter. The five goals were the most the Rock has scored in a quarter since their opening night loss to Arizona. The team took an 8-5 lead at the half.
The Rush have competed extremely hard this season, but have had all kinds of problems finishing in their short existence and last night was no different.
The Rush battled and were only outscored 6-3 the rest of the way by the Rock, but the talent gap between the two teams was apparent.
Terry Sanderson was happy with the win, but said his team has played better in some of their losses and still have a long way to go.
"We're all going to have to grab our shovels to get out of this bad boy," Toronto defender Dan Ladouceur said.
The Rock get a Super Bowl-sized test next Sunday when they travel to Calgary to take on the Roughnecks.