January 21, 2011
Blazing into the ACCBoston visits the Rock in a battle of the NLL's only undefeated teams
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Toronto Rock has been the National Lacrosse League's best team through the first two weeks of the season, but that could all change this weekend.
On Friday at the ACC, the 2-0 Rock take on the only other undefeated squad, the Boston Blazers, and a trip to always tough Buffalo for a meeting with the 1-1 Bandits awaits on Saturday night.
The Blazers boast one of the top three goalies in the league in ex-Rock standout Anthony Cosmo and have some of the most dangerous attackers in league history.
Casey Powell, the 2010 NLL MVP is joined by 2009 MVP Dan Dawson and former Champion's Cup MVP and former Rock star Josh Sanderson.
While Dawson has not yet found his scoring touch (he has 48, 47 and last year's 36-goal seasons under his belt), he leads the Blazers with 12 points--11 of them assists.
Powell has seven goals and four assists so far and is the most lethal open-floor player in the loop.
How much secondary scoring the Blazers can manage will likely determine how far they can go this season.
The Rock's offence has been even more explosive with sophomore Stephan
Leblanc and Garrett Billings picking up from where they left off as rookies.
Billings has 12 points so far -- the same as veteran Blaine Manning -- while Leblanc has six goals and has notched at least one in every game of his career.
Rookie Aaron Pascas has notched four goals of his own, allowing the man who has had to carry the bulk of the scoring load throughout his illustrious career -- captain Colin Doyle -- comfortable in a supporting role with seven points.
Doyle needs two goals to pass Paul Gait for fourth on the all-time list.
Toronto has also benefitted from taking just eight minutes in penalties through two games -- less than half as many as the second-least penalized squad.
There won't be many sur-p rises coaching-wise on either side, since the Blazers are helmed by long-time Rock assistant Matt Sawyer, who has extensive ties to Rock general manager-assistant coach Terry Sanderson and head coach Troy Cordingley.
Not that Sanderson is worried.
"We are not changing anything," Sanderson told nll.com."No other coach knows the Rock better than Matt but it's up to Boston to find a way to stop that. It's more about execution on our part than what Matt and the Blazers are going to try to do to us."
Added Sawyer: "It remains to be seen as far as if it gives us an advantage.
"You can have all the schemes, the game planning and preparations you want but in reality it comes down to the players on the floor. This is about the two teams and the players on the floor."
Buffalo traditionally is excellent at home and will be another handful for the Rock to deal with on Saturday.
The Rock and Blazers pulled off a trade ahead of their game this week.
The Rock sent 2010 5thround selection Ryan Dilks to Boston for Boston's 3rdround pick in the 2013 draft ... The NLL announced on Thursday that nine games will be aired in the U.S. on Versus. The all-star game, playoffs and Champion's Cup final will also be included.