I don’t think even the most avid Toronto Rock fan could have written a better opening to their 2010 season, than that which took place on Saturday night in Boston.
Facing the sophomore Blazers, the new look Rock came out, and other than a little sloppy play in the very early stages, dominated the home team blasting them by a 17-7 final score. The Rock looked as though they have immediately adopted the attitude of their new Coaches, Troy Cordingly and Terry Sanderson. They played an “in your face” style of defense, forcing Boston into many untimely errors while the offense was in motion all night, creating and capitalizing on countless opportunities.
Both teams started the contest a little rusty with some dropped passes and apparent nervousness. Toronto rookie Creighton Reid scooped up a loose ball off of a pass that perennial star Dan Dawson could not contain and ran the floor. With pretty much everyone in the TD Garden expecting Reid to turn back and wait for help from the Rock bench, he buried a shot high over the shoulder of Anthony Cosmo to open the scoring while the Rock were short handed.
Newly named Captain Colin Doyle returned to Toronto with a vengeance, scoring a goal and adding 9 assists. Rookie Garrett Billings looked like a seasoned veteran scoring 5 times, while Blaine Manning added 4 of his own. Rookie Stephan Leblanc and Josh Wasson each added 2 goals, with singles going to Reid, Kasey Beirnes, and Mike Hominuck. For Boston Dan Dawson scored three times, with Darryl Veltman adding two and singles coming from Brenden Thenhaus and Gary Bining.
Toronto starter Bob Watson I am sure welcomed the new style of defense being played by the Rock in 2010. Boston did not have many of the free lanes to the net that teams received last season on Toronto. On many of the chances they did get, Watson looked sharp. Anthony Cosmo struggled in his debut for 2010. Toronto scored a barrage of goals to start the game leading 5-1 after the first quarter. Shortly into the second, Cosmo was replaced by Mike Poulin, who did not fare much better. Cosmo would return to start the third quarter and play the remainder of the contest.
We are but one game in to the 2010 season and while it is not time to crown the Rock President’s Cup Champs just yet, this was a totally different looking team than the one Rock fans witnessed the last couple of seasons. And in tonight’s contest it was some of the players recently brought in that made a huge difference. Phil Sanderson was great in the defensive end for Toronto, and rookies Anthony Lackey and Brendan Doran looked solid. At the other end, Doyle was the floor general that fans have missed since the departure of Josh Sanderson. And if Garrett Billings over this season can regularly come anywhere near the production he produced in his first ever NLL game, scoring on the right side should be pretty solid with he and Blaine Manning.
Other Game Notes:
– Toronto was 4/6 on the PP, while Boston was 2/6
– Billings was named game MVP
– goal of the night was easily one of Blaine Manning’s markers. Late in the 2nd quarter, while running away from Cosmo and not even looking at the net, Manning threw a back hand that snuck into the low short side corner of the net.
– these two teams will hook up again next Friday night, January 16th, when the Rock officially open their Home schedule at the ACC.
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