The Thunderbirds get the Friday night game when the Toronto Rock come to Halifax. After handing the T-Birds their first loss of the season just two games ago, the Rock will face a different Thunderbird team with a different style of play, desperate for a win.
After starting the season 6–0, the Thunderbirds have lost their last two games, one of them being in Toronto. Getting a revenge win this weekend would set the team back on track. A hard loss on Saturday to the Saskatchewan Rush in overtime gave the Thunderbirds their second straight loss, but the 4th quarter showed promise for the offense, putting 8 goals on the board.
While the final quarter of play showed some of the best offense in the NLL, in order to win big games Halifax will need to play that way all game. “We need to play with urgency for 60 minutes, plain and simple,” claimed Austin Shanks after notching 5 goals on Saturday, including the equalizer with 25 seconds left. “We have been playing with effort, but for a full 60, we need the urgency we play with in the 4th quarter for the entire game. We know we are capable and know what we can do; now it’s time to show it.”
Toronto comes into this game on a 3-game win streak that started with the win over Halifax. They are playing cohesive offense and rock-solid defense (pun intended). Wins over the Warriors and the dangerous Bandits have given the Rock a lot of confidence and experience, and will be tough to knock off their current streak.
And in the world of streaks, the Thunderbirds will be looking to break theirs. After losing 2 back to back games, to get the team back on the winning track, someone has to step up. “I believe there is a bunch of guys who have stepped up, from the entire 24 guys on the roster, top to bottom,” said Shanks. “We have been playing good lacrosse. Both losses were within our grasp and winnable games, but we can’t dig ourselves a hole in the first half.”
Both teams will have a tough time getting the upper hand on the other. With weapons on all ends of the field wearing both colors, this game will be packed with action and star power from the opening draw. Shanks, Cody Jamieson, and Ryan Benesch run the Thunderbird offense and defensive phenoms Graeme Hossack, Scott Campbell, and Nonkon Thompson will be a tough task for the Rock offense.
On the other end of the field, Rob Hellyer, Dan Dawson, and Challen Rogers dominate the offense for Toronto, while Nick Rose between the pipes has been as good as any goaltender in the league so far. This game will certainly be one of the best all-around matchups in the NLL this season.
Faceoff starts at 7pm AST/6pm EST on Friday, February 21st in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The game can be streamed online through B/R Live.