After a thrilling overtime victory over the Philadelphia Wings last weekend, the Toronto Rock will move on to another challenging matchup against the Colorado Mammoth.
The Mammoth have had the luxury of playing every game to open the year at home. However, they’ve come out of the gates slow, losing both of their opening games of the season.
Colorado was handily beaten by the expansion San Diego Seals in the season opener before losing to the offensively shorthanded Calgary Roughnecks last weekend.
The Rock and Mammoth went head to head once last season, with Colorado taking the matchup by an 11-7 score in Toronto.
Colorado excels at scoring in transition, something the Rock had trouble defending last week against Philadelphia. Of their 10 goals on the night, seven of them came off the rush.
This game will also come down to play in between the pipes as two of the league’s best goaltenders will go head to head. Rock starter Nick Rose has gotten off to a strong start, with an 11.10 goals-against average and an 80.1 save percentage. On the other side, Dillon Ward has faced under 50 shots – 49, to be exact – in two games. He was pulled in the season opener after allowing 13 goals on 34 shots. He’s no slouch, though, as Ward – when at regular form – is one of, if not the, best goaltender in the league. He can steal games for the Mammoth, so the Rock have to make sure to keep him out of a groove.
The all-time series has not gone in Toronto’s favour, with the Rock going 7-13 overall and 2-8 when visiting the Pepsi Center. They’ll have history against them on Saturday, not to mention a team that will be hungry for its first win of the season. But good teams find a way to win, regardless of the circumstances.
Players to watch
The trio of Schreiber, Jones, and Hellyer are going to be grouped into one for this week. They are all over 20 points through the first three contests of the year. Defence’s can’t hold down all three for an entire game – someone is going to break out. To truly become a potent offence, they need to start getting the other forwards going. Schreiber and Jones accounted for 10 of Toronto’s 11 goals against Philly, with the other coming in transition.
He started the season with nine points in two games, but McArdle had a quiet night against the Wings – due, in part, to the big game from Jones.
The offseason acquisition had a solid opening performance for the Rock, potting four points against Buffalo. He’s only managed to put up two points in as many games since. With McArdle and Jones serving as the primary shooters on the left-handed side of the floor, Powless has to get some points through the pick and roll game. This is a big game for him.
Lintner is in the same situation as Powless. Schreiber and Hellyer do most, if not all, of the ball handling on the right-handed side. Lintner has gotten chances – including a goal that was waived off last week – he just has to get some of those to go in the net.
The former member of the Rock puts in a shift every time he plays Toronto. They don’t have to see him as often after his move to the Western Conference, but the Rock defence will need to find a way to keep Benesch quiet to win this one.
He never played for the Rock, but like Benesch, Keogh always likes to pot a goal – or three – against them. He used to give Toronto nightmares as a member of the Rochester Knighthawks, but now that he’s out west, the Rock only have to worry about him once a year. Keogh only has
The reigning NLL Transition Player of the Year is a threat every time he has possession of the ball. The momentum in this game could hinge on how efficient he and Challen Rogers are at pushing the ball up the floor. The pair of two-way stars will be the marquee matchup to watch in this game.
The second-year man has yet to score a goal. He’s a high-energy player who always manages to get a fair share of solid looks on goal. Kiel Matisz got his first of the year against the Rock. He scored an absolute gem last year against Toronto. Bet on Ruest to have a solid outing.