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Knighthawks face Rock for primetime game on TSN/ESPN3

03/11/2014, 12:00pm EDT
By Rock beat writer Justin Millerson & Knighthawks beat writer Jeremy Pike for NLL.com

Rochester at Toronto live on TSN (Canada) & ESPN3 (U.S) on Saturday

Toronto Rock (4-6) host Rochester Knighthawks (7-3) at Air Canada Centre, live on TSN/ESPN3, Saturday 7pm. (Photo: Graig Abel)

The Rochester Knighthawks (7-3) travel to the Air Canada Centre for a Week 12 matchup against the Toronto Rock (4-6) on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on TSN in Canada and on ESPN3 (nll.com/espn) in the United States.

The Knighthawks are coming off a decisive 13-8 win over the Philadelphia Wings at the Blue Cross Arena last Saturday night.

Rochester and Toronto last played on Feb 15, where the Knighthawks exercised some demons and earned their first road win in a 17-9 victory. The Knighthawks and the Rock also faced off on Jan 18 at the BCA, with the Knighthawks also winning that game 12-8. Playing at the ACC is always a very tough task for the Knighthawks, who are looking forward to the battle.

“We’ve just got to come in to Toronto ready to play,” Knighthawks defenseman Jon Sullivan said. “It’s always a tough barn to get a win in… Just coming in, trying to keep it as simple as possible, sticking to our principles and being ready to play.”

“That’s one that we’re really primed and getting ready for,” Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen said. “We know going in there… it’s going to be a huge battle as it is always. We’ve got to make sure we’re at our best in all facets because… they can shoot, they can score, they can run, and [goalie Nick Rose] in net there will stop the ball on us if we’re not good. It’s going to be tough… it’s one that we’re waiting for.”

This game is the third and final regular season meeting between these two teams this season.

After a not-so-kind winless Week 10 in Alberta with losses to Edmonton and Calgary, the Rock retained idle status last week while enjoying what Toronto Rock head coach John Lovell called a much need bye week. With not much time to rest on on a sub .500 record, the Rock are faced with yet another back-to-back weekend – their second in three weeks.

The Rock will start the climb back to .500 when they host one of the East Division's top squads on Saturday before embarking on the road to Minnesota the following day for a 6 p.m. ET game.

“Hopefully we can put a pretty good lineup on the floor on Saturday night. This is a critical game, we have to try to get back on the winning track,” said Lovell.

The Rock will try to avoid a season sweep against the Knighthawks for the first time since 2008. Toronto, in two tries, failed to reach the ten-goal mark against Rochester and much reason has to go to opposing goalie Matt Vinc. In games against the Rock, Vinc carries a 8.50 goals against average while posting an .830 save percentage over the two-game stretch.

“We got to try to get a lot of shots through and create shooting lanes,” said Rock forward Josh Sanderson. “When get our chances, we got to bury them because [Matt Vinc] is so good. You don't get a ton of quality looks, so the big thing is taking advantage of them when you get them.”

The Rock will also get a chance to avenge their only home loss of the season. On Feb. 15 with a then 3-0 home record, Toronto allowed 15 goals over a two quarter stretch en route to a 17-12 loss. Rochester forwards Dan Dawson and Cody Jamieson each posted double-digit point totals and Rock goalie Nick Rose was yanked from goal for the first time this season.

“When we played them last time, I think we played pretty well for the most of it,” said Sanderson. “We let up and they went on a huge run.”

Toronto will be happy to welcome back three key defenders to the lineup on Saturday night. Rob Marshall, Patrick Merrill and Bill Greer, who were all absent during the Rock's 19-13 defeat to the Calgary Roughnecks, have been cleared to suit up against the Knighthawks.

In other roster news, the Rock have released backup goaltender Zak Boychuk and signed 23-year-old Steve Fryer to take his place. Fryer, a third-round draftee in 2011, served as the Philadelphia Wings' backup in 2012.

“I think we wanted to change the look back there,” said Lovell. “It's silly to think that our problems fall at the feet of a backup goalie, we got bigger issues to deal with than that. Bottom line is we have to be prepared to play for 60 minutes and prepare to battle.”

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