Toronto Rock Home Opener
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, December 8, 2019
Rock vs New England Black Wolves
The National Lacrosse League as opposed to field Lacrosse provides their entertainment in hockey arenas aka box or indoor lacrosse. The Rock play at Scotia Bank Arena the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Rock may play in the same arena but they and the Leafs play a completely different style. The Rock like the rest of their competition in the National Lacrosse League play a very physical game. Slashing is legal and hitting is all over the floor. If you like a physical game the NLL is for you. The music plays all game without stopping always carrying a thumping beat keeping the energy level on high.
On this night the 7 thousand plus fans were disappointed by quick 2- 0 lead by the Rock which turned into a 7-3 lead for the Black Wolves. Glenn Clark the NE coach advised his players prior to the game that the Rock would come out strong and “we need to weather the storm” and they did coming out with a New England 12 – 8 victory.
Rock Coach Matt Sawyer felt the Rock needed to generate more offense but when they did the Rock players were hitting goaltender Doug Jamieson too often. Dan Dawson an Oakville native was playing his first game for Toronto. Dan was dangerous all night but unfortunately the lack of same from his teammates, caused the Rock to chase the game. Dan did not blame his teammates saying only “these games in December are too important to lose and now we have to hit the road to San Diego”.
The Black Wolves 9 and 9 and the Rock 12 and 6 last season lead the NLL with the most championships, 6. The favourite Rock could not keep up with the opportunistic Black Wolves the underdog. Penalties slowed the pace of the Rock game and seemed to untrack them.
A quick turnaround meaning little time to dwell on this loss for the Toronto Rock. The road will give the team a chance to bond and get to know each other better. The chemistry for the Rock needs some work, sometimes starting at home is a bit of a handicap since you feel the need to perform in front of your fans before you get a chance to understand your game. On this night the road game plan of the Black Wolves was too difficult for the Rock to deliver a consistently effective effort.
The normally dependable goaltending of Nick Rose of the Rock was not there on this night while at the other end of the floor Doug Jamieson held the Black Wolves in and then ahead making the scorers on the Rock look not so sharp. The stops looked easy, but many were not for Jamieson while Rosie at the other end did not look sharp. The lack of sharpness may have had something to do with all the open looks the Black Wolves had even while penalty killing.
The NLL added 2 teams this year creating a new division, the North Division with Toronto, Buffalo, Halifax, and Rochester. In the East Division we find Georgia, New York, Philadelphia, and New England and in the West the defending Champ Calgary along with Colorado, San Diego, Saskatchewan and Vancouver.
A very interesting playoff format new this year means winning early this season is a necessity. The Rock see themselves as a legitimate contender for the Cup and they cannot play these kind of games moving forward. Winning in the National Lacrosse League is harder and the Rock were given a firsthand example tonight losing 12 to 8 to the New England Black Wolves.