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Rock set to open at home with a clean slate

01/15/2013, 2:26pm EST
By Justin Millerson, Rock beat writer for NLL.com

Toronto hosts Philadelphia on Saturday in matchup of unbeatens

The Toronto Rock (2-0) host the Philadelphia Wings for their 2013 NLL regular season home opener on Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET at Air Canada Centre. (Photo: Graig Abel)

After a two-win weekend in Alberta, the Toronto Rock (2-0) are preparing to host a much-different looking Philadelphia Wings team when they play their 2013 National Lacrosse League home opener on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET at Air Canada Centre.

In Canada, the game will air live on TSN 2 and TSN Mobile while fans in the U.S. can watch on ESPN 3. In Philadelphia, the game can be seen on Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia. Watch the game live on the NLL on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network outside of North America.

The Wings (1-0) traded away Dan and Paul Dawson, Dan being their top scorer in 2012, to the Rochester Knighthawks just over a month ago. In return, the Wings acquired Paul Rabil, Joel White, Jordan Hall, Robbie Campbell and a 2014 second-round draft pick. Widely considered as one of the biggest NLL trades in recent memory, Philadelphia will now look to the likes of Kevin Crowley and newly-acquired Kevin Buchanan to carry the load this season.

“Really looking forward [to the matchup]," said Rock general manager Terry Sanderson. "I like what [Philadelphia] has done with the changes they've made. We've got to keep everybody honest and I think you have to prepare a little differently for these guys.”

Hall and Buchanan made a great early impression by scoring a combined 13 points in the 13-8 Wings win against the Buffalo Bandits last week.

“Every team has their stars and they are going to make you pay if you make mistakes,” said Toronto goaltender  and Week 2 Defensive Player of the Week Nick Rose. “It's hard to get a read on every team. It's so early, but I think [Philadelphia] has a speed and size mismatch, so we are going to have to strategize for that.”

The Rock come out of their back-to-back weekend with a 13-11 win against the Calgary Roughnecks and a 10-9 victory over the Edmonton Rush. Rose, who was peppered with shots in both games, was an integral part of those two wins, boasting an impressive .817 save percentage on 109 shots during the stretch.

“I was feeling fairly confident,” Rose said. “I felt our defense gave me the shots we want to give up and I think we executed [how we wanted to] defensively.” 

The 24-year-old Orangeville, ON native bumps his career regular season record to a relatively clean 8-2 since being acquired form the Roughnecks in March of last year.

Last weekend marked the first time the Rock opened a season on a back-to-back note and Sanderson said it's not something he'd like to do again. He said his guys were feeling the effects of the quick turnaround out the gate against the Rush. However, subsequently, the Rock persevered with a second-half comeback win.

“Obviously very pleased with the effort the guys put forth,” Sanderson said. “It's a pretty tough run to go back-to-back like that in a short period of time. I got to hand it to our guys, they were full measure for it and played two excellent teams.”

The Rock however, did not exit the weekend unscathed. Defenseman Damon Edwards went down while chasing a loose ball, injuring what appeared to be his hamstring in the first half against the Roughnecks. Edwards left the game and did not return. He also did not play in the Rock's game against the Rush the following day.

“I believe it was [a hamstring],” Sanderson said. “We will find out more [Wednesday night], we hope it's not too serious. It was more precautionary when we didn't put him back in the game.”

Offensively, the Rock had a balanced attack in Week 2. Colin Doyle, Garrett Billings and Kasey Beirnes each had nine or more points during the two-game stretch. Doyle (0+10) and Billings (2+8) are tied for the team lead in points , while Beirnes is the team's leading goal scorer (5) after the weekend. Toronto's top offseason acquisition Scott Evans is having a decent start on the scoresheet with three goals thus far.

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