offence that carried them to a 16-11 victory over th

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offence that carried them to a 16-11 victory over th

Notapor Dogcat250 » Mar Sep 10, 2019 8:18 pm

TORONTO -- Defence has been a Toronto Rock trademark but it was the offence that carried them to a 16-11 victory over the Calgary Roughnecks in the National Lacrosse League season opener for both teams Friday night. "It was the way we wanted to start the season," said forward Stephan Leblanc, who led the way with five goals. "We were fired up and the goals were dropping for us." Toronto finished first overall last season so general manager Terry Sanderson saw no need for drastic change. The offence clicked for five goals on its first nine shots and the defence and goalie Nick Rose limited 2013 scoring champion Shawn Evans to one goal. Rob Hellyer, at 21 the youngest player in a veteran-laden attack, looked good on the right side as he assumed the bulk of the playing time that had previously been committed to the now-retired Blaine Manning. Hellyer popped three goals in his enhanced role. "With only six offensive guys out of 16 runners youre going to be out there all the time," said Hellyer, alluding to the leagues reduction to 16 from 18 runners. "Ive had a good three years with this team and Ive learned a lot. I think now itd be nice to step up and make a bigger contribution." Colin Doyle and Josh Sanderson have been amazing for a long time. They each scored twice. "We stuck to a game plan and it certainly worked," said Doyle. "I dont think we saw their best. Thats for certain. But, as far as starts go, that was a pretty good start for this team." Jesse Gamble, Kasey Beirnes, Garrett Billings and Ethan OConnor added one each for the Rock, who held quarter leads of 7-3, 9-4 and 12-6. "It was special," said new head coach John Lovell. "Our guys worked really hard for this." Billings had nine assists in front of an Air Canada Centre crowd of 11,120. "Its a credit to the chemistry we have up front," Billings said of his 10-point night. "It was a great game for Blaine Manning, who as offensive coach was behind the bench for the first time. "Its great to put up numbers like that. Ive been with this core group for four years now so Ive got good chemistry playing with Steph going back to our junior days and ever since Josh Sanderson put on a Rock jersey for the second time weve had great chemistry, too. It helps knowing where all the guys are going to be on the floor. "Its fun. Id have liked to have scored a couple more goals. But what can you do?" Jeff Shattler scored four goals, Dane Dobbie had two and Evans, Daryl Veltman, Geoff Snider, Curtis Dickson and Matthew Dinsdale one each for the Roughnecks, who were outshot 61-51. Toronto led by six entering the fourth quarter but Calgary scored four of the next five goals to close within 13-10. Biernes broke the run with his goal at 11:41 and rookie OConnor scored his first pro goal into an empty net to seal the victory. Gamble supplied repeated transition thrusts all night. "It was a great way to start the season, to know that were competitive and that we have the right guys," he said. "We can compete in this league. That wasnt a bad (Calgary) team. Theyve got a lot of skill and they are going to compete for the Champions Cup so this win gives us a lot of confidence." The Rocks seven-goal first quarter proved to be the difference in the end. "We got a big lead but they didnt go away," said Rose. "We knew that about them. Theyre going to be tough to beat all year. But we earned the win tonight. Any time your O puts up seven for you in one quarter, its a nice feeling. That takes the stress off making the next save. The O was awesome." Calgary coach Curt Malawsky gave Shattler and Poulin an A for effort. But his teams goals-against numbers were poor last year and they were again Friday night. The first quarter put his players in too deep a hole. "Yeah, no question," he said of a deficit his club couldnt overcome. "Youre down 7-3 to a team like that in their building. Its tough to battle back. They went on three three-goal runs and a five-goal run and we only answered back with a four-goal run. We didnt do a very good job of controlling momentum." NOTES: On power plays, Toronto was 4 for 8 and Calgary 3 for 3 . . . Veteran Rock defencemen Pat Merrill and Chris White sat out with what the team described as lower-body injuries . . . Unavailable to Calgary due to injuries were T Scott Ranger, T Travis Cornwall and D Pete McFetridge . . . Making their NLL debuts were D Craig England and T Ethan OConnor of the Rock and T Tor Reinholdt, T Karsen Leung and D Garrett McIntosh of the Roughnecks . . . Both teams play their second games of 2014 next Friday, with Toronto at Buffalo and Colorado at Calgary. David Njoku Jersey . 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The 23-year-old Poland international is back as first choice at Arsenal after losing his regular spot in the team on occasions over the last three seasons.NEW YORK -- Free agent Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has arrived in the United States to meet with major league teams. Big league clubs have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 to sign the star 25-year-old right-hander. Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year for the Japan Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles, who made him available under the new postingg system.dddddddddddd He is being represented by agent Casey Close and plans to have a physical in the U.S. that can be reviewed by major league teams. Under the new posting system, the fee payable to the Japanese club is capped at $20 million and the player can negotiate with all big league teams willing to pay the posting amount. ' ' '

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