Rock date with NLL sniper is buried

RYAN WOLSTAT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

Nobody has been able to contain Philadelphia Wings forward Athan Iannucci this season.

However, the Buffalo Bandits showed last Saturday that Iannucci's team, at least, can be stopped.

The Bandits pasted the previously unbeaten Wings 21-12 in that game, handing them their first National Lacrosse League setback of what has become a surprisingly dominant season.

The Toronto Rock (5-3) was to get its first of two cracks at the 6-1 Wings this afternoon at the Wachovia Center in Philly. However, the snowstorm that lashed the Toronto region late yesterday afternoon prevented the Rock from flying to Philadelphia, forcing a postponement of the 1 p.m. start.

No makeup date was announced.

While Toronto boasts the NLL's top defence, Philadelphia, led by Iannucci, possesses the most potent offence.

How dominant has Iannucci been so far this season? The 25-year-old New Westminster B.C., native has scored 35 goals in just seven games and is on pace for 80, which would decimate Gary Gait's league record of 61, set in 2003.

Rock coach Glenn Clark said Iannucci, who recently became the first player since 1996 to win back-to-back player-of-the-month awards, is the kind of offensive threat on the floor that requires a team effort to control.

"Like all great players, you don't do it with one guy," Clark said.

"He is a lights-out talent, there's no doubt. It has to be the job of a few guys, and the group as a whole, to make it a little more predictable as far as where his shots are coming from."

Earlier this week, Wings general manager Lindsay Sanderson acquired A.J. Shannon from the Edmonton Rush and Clark expressed dismay that Philadelphia was adding yet another scorer to its attack.

"They picked up more offence, which doesn't seem fair," Clark said in mild jest.

Shannon had 22 points in seven games for Edmonton.

This afternoon's match will be one of contrasting styles.

First-year head coach Dave Huntley has the hungry Wings -- who were edged out of playoff spots by tiebreakers with the Rock the past two seasons -- playing an aggressive, attacking style.

Toronto, with four wins in five games, relies on a much more conservative approach and goaltender Bob Watson.

"Bobby Watson is playing as well as he's ever played in his career," Huntley said.

Rock captain Jim Veltman turns 42 today and was looking to play for the final time in one of his favourite haunts.

Beyond the makeup of today's cancelled game, the two squads are scheduled to meet again in the regular season finale next month.


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