The Blue Cross Arena has a history of not being kind to the Toronto Rock.
Toronto is 11-19 all-time against the Rochester Knighthawks. The Rock will look to get their first win against the Knighthawks in Rochester on Saturday.
The Rock defeated the Edmonton Rush 13-7 last week while the Knighthawks squeaked out an 11-10 victory over the Minnesota Swarm, thanks to Craig Point’s overtime, game-winning goal.
Rochester will be playing their first home game of the season, meaning Knighthawk fans will get their first in-person look at Cody Jamieson, the first overall pick in the 2010 NLL Entry Draft.
In Jamieson’s first NLL game last week against the Swarm, he made himself known on the floor, firing nine shots, getting seven penalty minutes and scoring two goals.
During Wednesday’s league teleconference, Knighthawk assistant coach Paul Day agreed that Jamieson will be one of the next superstars in the National Lacrosse League.
“He can score from a lot of different areas on the floor and he can create for himself and is a great passer,” Day said of Jamieson’s talents. “He will continue to improve. He is very, very good.”
Toronto general manager and assistant coach Terry Sanderson agree that Jamieson will likely become one of the great NLL players, but what impressed them early on about the No. 1 overall pick is his ability one-on-one.
“It is no secret that he is a real handful to check one-on-one,” Sanderson said.
“I think that is the toughest part and it will be the toughest part for us, to stay away from those one-on-one situations because the kid is so strong. He shoots the lights out; anybody just has to check his stats to see what he’s done during his summer career to know that. He is going to be a handful.”
Jamieson played last summer with the Six Nations Chiefs in the Ontario Lacrosse Association Major Series, playing with many of his current teammates. Day said with his experience in summer indoor lacrosse with those current teammates, it will take a lot of the pressure of him being “the one” off his shoulders.
“I think it is a great opportunity for him to come to a team like ours and play with players like Shawn Williams, Shawn and Scott Evans, and Craig Point—guys who he has played with in the past,” Day said.
“There is quite a good group around him and to grow with him as well. I think there are situations where if he went to other teams, he would have been ‘the guy’. I think with our team he is going to be one of many.”
Luckily for the Rock, Jamieson is only one player and the Knighthawks feature 10 new faces on their squad, giving the 2010 NLL runner-ups a chance to finally get a win in Rochester.
However Toronto needs another solid night out of Stephan Lablanc, Garrett Billings and Kasey Beirnes, all of whom had four point performances against Edmonton, and more great goaltending by Bob Watson, the NLL Week 1 Player of the Week.
Saturday’s game will get underway at 7:35 p.m. EST at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. The game will be televised by TSN for Canadian viewers and on the NLL Network at NLL.com in the United States (Canadian blackout).
Here is a look at the other four National Lacrosse League games this weekend.
Minnesota Swarm at Washington Stealth – Friday Jan. 14, 11 p.m. EST
For the defending league champions, the Washington Stealth, the 2011 season began the way that they had hoped, with a road victory against the Colorado Mammoth last Saturday.
Unfortunately for them, the Roughnecks spoiled Washington’s home opener and championship banner ceremony on Sunday.
The Stealth (1-1) will now stay at home in Everett, Washington where they’ll host the Minnesota Swarm on Friday night for their third game in seven days, but they will be without one of their best players.
Washington head coach Chris Hall said during Wednesday league teleconference that forward Jeff Zywicki has a lower body injury and is being placed on injured reserve.
“We expect to have him back in six weeks, but probably no sooner than that,” Hall said. “In the meantime we’ve signed Craig Conn, subject of league approval. We’ve signed Craig and he is going to slide in there and take Jeff’s position until we get him back.”
Zywicki didn’t play Sunday against Calgary, but he did have a big Saturday game against Colorado, finishing with three goals and two assists.
Minnesota (0-1) will look to break even at 1-1 on the season after losing in overtime to Rochester on Saturday. The Swarm would also like a little pay back on Washington for the early exit they gave Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Edmonton Rush at Boston Blazers – Saturday Jan. 15, 7:30 p.m. EST
Matt Sawyer’s coaching debut with the Boston Blazers was a successful one last Saturday, with a 10-6 win over Philadelphia.
Casey Powell finished with five goals and two assists for Boston (1-0) while Josh Sanderson had two goals and four assists against the Wings. Dan Dawson was held scoreless by Philadelphia, but he did contribute eight assists.
On Saturday at TD Garden in Boston, Edmonton (0-1) knows they need to keep those players under control to have a chance to win.
“You just have to try and take away time and space it is as simple as that,” said Edmonton head coach Derek Keenan on stopping the Boston offense.
“I don’t think you can be running and chasing guys all over the place, but you need to take away time and space and get into shooting lanes. You have to keep them at the perimeter and try and be physical with them as well. They are very good players and they are going to get their shots and they are going to get their points, but you want to try and not let any one of them have a huge night or let a group of them have huge nights. That will be the objective.”
The Rush will be making their second trip in as many weeks out East, but they’ll need to play a full 60 minutes to get the win in Boston as they only scored once in the second half last Saturday against Toronto.
Who will win this weekend?
In his first game back in a Wings’ uniform, Athan Iannucci had a quiet game, scoring one goal while adding two assists in a loss to the Blazers.
However Philadelphia head coach John Tucker said he knows Iannucci will play better and be more productive as the season goes on.
“I don’t think Athan or myself was happy with his production,” Tucker said of Iannucci’s performance last week.
“To have one goal late in the game was not his normal style. I think he was pressing a little bit. In his first game back to the NLL after a year off—I think it was sort of finding ourselves a little bit. I don’t think it was his best game but I’m not disappointed by his effort. I think he is a great guy and will be playing really hard this weekend.”
Both Philadelphia (0-1) and Buffalo (0-1) will be looking for their first wins of the season after Buffalo lost last week in Calgary.
This game is especially important for the Buffalo Bandits because a loss to the Wings would mean that they would be 0-2 on the season and heading into two games against Toronto to close out January.
Being 0-4 or 1-3 would not be the fast start they wanted for the year and may put head coach, Darris Kilgour, on the hot seat.
Who will win the NLL Western Division this season?
Colorado Mammoth at Calgary Roughnecks – Saturday Jan. 15, 9:30 EST
After Week One of the NLL season, the Calgary Roughnecks are atop of the West Division.
With wins at home against Buffalo on Saturday and on the road at Washington on Sunday, the Roughnecks’ start is one of the surprises in the early season.
Even with the Roughnecks (2-0), head coach Dave Pym has his guys thinking of another NLL championship, like the one they earned in 2009.
“When we go to play a game we expect to win and that is the way we are going to approach it,” Pym said. “Nothing is going phase this group of guys and they are just going about their business with them bringing their lunch bags to the rink and getting on with business.”
The Colorado Mammoth (0-1) lost a heartbreaker on Saturday as they almost upset the defending NLL champs, the Washington Stealth at home, but instead lost in overtime.
John Grant Jr. had four goals and two assists in his Mammoth debut, and after a slow start, head coach Bob Hamley was pleased with his performance on and off the floor.
“It took a quarter or two to get going but John was as advertised,” Hamley said.
“He was great on the bench for us and obviously on the floor. We look for that leadership and we look for him to help us on our power play and on 5-on-5.”
These two West Division rivals will square off in Calgary at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the late game on Saturday.
All of this weekend’s National Lacrosse League games can be viewed on the NLL Network at NLL.com. Some blackouts may apply.