Rock aren't taking Knighthawks lightly

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:54 PM ET

As Garrett Billings fought with a cold this week, the Toronto Rock forward couldn’t help but think of the battles that will await him Saturday night.

Billings, the Rock’s first pick (sixth overall) in the 2009 National Lacrosse League draft, has had a couple of big games, helping the Rock start 2-0 with six goals and five assists.

The 23-year-old native of Langley, B.C., got the overtime winner last week against the Boston Blazers after scoring five times against the Blazers in the season opener, and as such expects to catch the attention of the Rochester Knighthawks at the Air Canada Centre.

“Colin Doyle takes a lot of focus from everybody else, but if I can’t fly under the radar, I have to prove I can show up,” Billings said. “I didn’t have any preconceived notions coming in. You kind of get used to (being checked).”

Rock general manager Terry Sanderson is happy with Billings’ production. Billings spent four years at the University of Virginia, graduating with an economics degree, and had 38 goals in 18 games as a senior.

“He is learning what the NLL is about,” Sanderson said. “We expected him to grab points, but we don’t want to throw too much on him.”

Like the Rock, the Knighthawks have started 2010 with victories in each of their first two games, but Rochester coach Paul Gait wants to spread his offence around a little more. Of the Knighthawks’ 23 goals, 14 have been scored by John Grant Jr., Craig Point or Gary Gait.

“We’re trying to create an offence that will react to pretty much any defence that is thrown at them,” Paul Gait said.

“It’s going to take a little more time. Our offence is only half buying into the system.”

Sanderson and Rock coach Troy Cordingley have stressed to their players the importance of putting pressure on the Knighthawks forwards.

“It’s a work in progress but we’re sticking with it,” Sanderson said. “We’re confident with it.”

Rochester has made a habit of putting a crimp in the Rock’s plans to be perfect. In 2005, the most recent season Toronto started 2-0, the Knighthawks beat the Rock in the third game.

Ten years ago, the Rock began 3-0 before losing to the Knighthawks. Overall, Toronto is 9-18 in franchise history against Rochester. The teams meet again next Saturday in Rochester.

Meanwhile, the NLL announced yesterday that there will be no further action taken against eight players, including the Rock’s Pat McCready, Sandy Chapman, Jeff Gilbert and Creighton Reid, who were ejected for fighting in last Friday’s game between Toronto and Boston.


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