TORONTO - The Toronto Rock take their show on the road this weekend when they make a pit stop at the Blue Cross Arena Saturday night to face the Rochester Knighthawks.
After last Saturday’s convincing 13-7 home win over the Edmonton Rush, the first road test of the season comes in an arena where they haven’t won a game since the 2003 Champions Cup.
Asked why Toronto has lost 15 straight games in Rochester over seven years, assistant coach and general manager Terry Sanderson was mystified himself.
“I’m really not sure,” he said.
Last year, the Rock were a pedestrian 3-5 on the road during the regular season. Sanderson freely admitted their record away from the Air Canada Centre was sub-par so he views the game as a crucial test for his newly constructed team.
“It’s one area that we were not happy with last year, especially in a couple of those games where we felt we were in control of things and just fell apart or the other team came back and picked us apart,” Sanderson said.
“With the new faces maybe they’re going to give us that little extra jam that we need on the road. It is something we’d like to find an answer to and that’s another reason why we are putting a lot of stock in this first road game.”
With 11 new players on the roster, the GM is hopeful the additions will change the attitude and nature of the team on the road.
“If you want to put in the fact that I think we are a way grittier team than last year,” Sanderson said. “That might be an answer in itself.”
“It’s (Rochester) a tough place to play. It’s like Buffalo and Calgary, where they’re very tough buildings to play in and maybe we need a little more sandpaper going into these places and maybe it’s a fact that we just have to compete more in the road buildings.”
The Knighthawks were just as busy as Toronto in the off-season, adding 12 new players to the 23-man roster. Assistant coach Paul Day thinks the Rock will see a more complete and cohesive team than the one that finished 7-9 last year and missed the playoffs.
“I think we’re going to be pretty good defensively,” Day said. “We’re playing a pressure type defence this year so it may be a little more exciting to watch. We want to be a more well-rounded team as far as offence goes and getting more guys chipping in.”
Sanderson knows most of the new faces on Rochester but it’s about how well the pieces in the puzzle fit together.
“Some of the faces we’re familiar with but they’re coming in from different teams so that, in itself, is going to make it a little more difficult to play against simply because you don’t know,” he said.
Game time is for 7:35 p.m., and available on TSN2.
Two Rock players win awards
Goaltender Bob Watson was named the NLL Overall Player of the Week and Aaron Pascas was named the NLL Rookie of the Week.