Toronto Rock Season Preview
Professional lacrosse has been absent since the MLL’s championship game on September 14. That was ages ago. Thankfully, the NLL season rapidly approaches. With three new teams (two if you don’t count Rochester) we are in the midst of unprecedented NLL popularity. This season comes loaded with questions. Will Calgary repeat? Will an American team finally win it all? How will the new franchises perform? With all these questions, it’s time for my NLL franchise previews so fans are informed before opening faceoff on November 29. I started with the Vancouver Warriors. We are staying in Canada with the Toronto Rock.
Toronto figures to have another successful season. Last year, the Rock finished third in the east at 12-6. They knocked off Georgia, 16-14, to advance to the eastern conference finals where they ultimately lost to Buffalo 8-12. Home fans were spoiled with an 8-1 record at Scotiabank Arena. To win it all, Toronto must improve upon their 4-5 road record.
Everything runs through Tom Schreiber. Captain America looks to build upon a stellar 2018/2019 season that included 33 goals, 71 assists, and 67 loose balls. Schreiber will be ready after dominating in the Premier Lacrosse League’s inaugural season.
Fortunately, Toronto needn’t only depend on Schreiber. Plenty of old and new faces have impressed since training camp. One only needs to look at Toronto’s 16-11 preseason win over Colorado.
Offensively, Toronto looks unstoppable. Adam Jones (32 goals, 40 assists, and 68 loose balls last season) had his way with Colorado’s defense. Jones led the team with four goals. Zach Manns, Toronto’s second round draft pick, looked ready for NLL play. Manns tallied two goals and three assists. He is a force to be reckoned with. Toronto’s biggest offseason acquisition, Dan Dawson (29 goals, 59 assists, 49 loose balls las season) from San Diego, was as advertised. Dawson looked better than ever with one goal and six assists. The thought of Dawson and Schreiber feeding each other must give defensive coordinators nightmares.
While watching the film, I noticed Toronto scored in a multitude of ways. The Rock offense looked incredibility versatile. Toronto burned Colorado on transition, inside, and outside shots. A couple beauties came from shooters using defensemen to screen the Mammoth goaltenders.
Veteran goaltender Riley Hutchcraft impressed with fourteen saves (allowed six). Rookie goalie Troy Holowchuk looked NLL ready with twelves saves (allowed five). Somewhat concerning is how Colorado scored their goals. The Rock goalies had no chance on most. In the highlight video linked below, you will notice Toronto’s defense breaking down. This led to easy Colorado goals.
It’s a scrimmage, so fans shouldn’t be too worried; however, it’s still worth noting. Speaking of defense, Toronto fans should be excited with the squad resigning both Alec Tulett (2 assists, 26 loose balls last year) and Sheldon Burns (4 assists, 44 loose balls last season) to two-year deals. Both players hold a key role in keeping Toronto’s defense stout.
With such a strong roster, I expect Toronto to be a legitimate title contender. The Rock open with New England, at San Diego, at Rochester, and Rochester again. Toronto should win those four games, which sets them up for a massive showdown against division rival Buffalo. Whoever wins that meeting, will be in prime position to win the newly founded north division.
With multiple returning veterans, and the addition Dawson, I would be shocked if Toronto settles for anything less than an eastern conference finals appearance. With lacrosse being so unpredictable, it’s hard to predict anything more. Yet, the pieces are in place for a special season. Toronto residents may see another championship banner raised in Scotiabank Arena this summer.
Do you agree with my Toronto preview? Disagree? Is there something I missed? Whatever your thoughts, let me know by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can also subscribe directly to my website to comment directly onto this article. By subscribing, you’ll be notified whenever I publish a new article. Stay tuned for more NLL content as the preseason continues to wind down. Thank you for reading and good luck to Toronto!