Friday’s game between the Toronto Rock and Halifax Thunderbirds at Scotiabank Arena will be the first of many classic matchups between the new North Division rivals. Although they are separated by 1790 km and about 17 hours, Halifax joins Toronto as the NLL’s only Canadian teams in the eastern part of the country. For those unfamiliar with Canadian geography, that’s about the same amount of time it would take to drive from New York City to Florida, and the equivalent mileage from NYC to Denver.
The Rock are hard to beat on home floor but the Thunderbirds are undefeated with a 6-0 record. Toronto sits in third in the division with a 3-2 record, their most recent game a 10-8 loss to Buffalo. This will be the Rock’s fourth divisional game in a row after back-to-back wins over Rochester.
Against Buffalo, a five-goal run for the Bandits and an anemic Toronto power play was the difference, though the Rock outhustled them in shots and loose balls. Rob Hellyer led all shooters with 16 shots on goal – five found their way in.
Halifax is coming off a 15-12 win over the Calgary Roughnecks. Clarke Petterson, Steven Keogh and Ryan Benesch combined for a six-goal run in the third quarter to take down the defending champions. Jake Withers won 27 of 32 faceoffs in the game and led with 12 loose ball scoops as the Thunderbirds peppered the Roughnecks with 64 shots.
Cody Jamieson (10G/16A), Mike Burke (6G/20A) and Ryan Benesch (11G/13) lead the Thunderbirds in points, though Steven Keogh leads in goals with 15. Rob Hellyer (15G/10A), Dan Dawson (8G/11A) and Dan Craig (8G/10) lead the Rock. Offensive stars Tom Schreiber and Adam Jones remain on the IR.
Warren Hill has played every minute in goal and boasts an impressive 8.67 GAA and a .827 SV%. Like Hill, Nick Rose has played every minute for the Rock earning a 9.80 GAA and .806 SV%.
Friday’s game begins at 7:30 p.m. and can be watched on BR Live.