At least Dan Lintner has a good story to tell about his first NLL game.
Lintner’s non-goal at 18:10 of the fourth quarter could have started a comeback for the Rock had it counted, but a review showed his foot in the crease. The goal and assists were even announced at the Air Canada Centre Thursday night but boos rained down as the officials called the goal back. The Rock lost their home opener 12-7 and sit with an 0-2 record.
“I’ll just try and go out and get another,” Lintner said post-game. “It felt good to get the first one but once it’s called back it’s called back and you just have to focus on the next one.”
For Lintner and the Rock, that will be Saturday, when the Knighthawks host the back end of the home and home series.
Lintner made his NLL debut Thursday after the Rock acquired him from the New England Black Wolves in exchange for Kevin Crowley. The Black Wolves drafted Lintner eighth overall in September. Lintner had one assist in his first game.
Fellow rookies Turner Evans and Luc Magnan played their second games, having been part of Toronto’s 12-7 loss in Georgia last weekend. Evans, a forward, had an assist in each game and Magnan has impressed with his physical play on defence.
Toronto GM Jamie Dawick weighed in on his rookies.
“They’re finding their way,” he said positively. “This was Dan’s first game tonight. Dan’s going to be a player in this league; he just needs to get out there and get his feet wet. I think Evy’s trying to find his way too. Two games in and those guys are good players, they’re going to be fine and we’re going have to battle through it.”
Fourteen goals in two games isn’t great for a team that’s defending a division title, but the fact that they have let in 24 is what’s weighing more on Dawick’s mind.
“I think Luc Magnan through two game has been solid as a rock,” he said of the rookie defender. “I’m much more concerned about a few of my veterans right now than I am about him so I’m real pleased with him.”
He isn’t concerned at all with the slower start for Lintner and Evans. Being rookies, anything they can contribute is welcome, but they’re not expected to lead the offense after just a couple of games.
“Those other two will come around,” Dawick said. “They’ll be fine. They’ll find their way, it’s a work in progress.”
Captain Colin Doyle is happy with the rookies but is frustrated on their behalf.
“It’s on us, the veterans, to create more opportunities and let them get some chances as well,” Doyle said. “They’re lumped into this just like the rest of us. The vets have to get better and the young guys have to get better but I’m happy with their progress, they’re coming along nicely. Danny got his feet wet tonight up front, I know Luc at the back door and Evy up front they’ve all been asked to step in and take on pretty big roles. I think they’re doing admirably, they’re only going to get better.”
Lintner’s doing his best to keep up with his new pro teammates.
“I’m trying to keep myself in shape, it’s more uptempo out here than in senior and junior and so far so good,” he said of the transition to the NLL. “It’s pretty much what I expected: a faster pace and a lot bigger guys. I’m not the biggest guy but I’m out there crashing and banging, getting to the middle of the floor and I’m just going to keep on doing that.”
Rochester rookie Derek Searle also made an impression in his NLL debut Thursday; at the buzzer, he slashed and high sticked Toronto defenceman Brock Sorensen, sending Sorensen to the carpet. Rock peace keeper Billy Hostrawser stepped in and welcomed Searle to the league with a few uppercuts before knocking him to the ground as well.
Dawick was not pleased with Searle after the game.
“They beat us by five goals and they got some rookie punk dirtying our guy from behind so I’m glad he got his ass kicked, he deserved it,” Dawick said. “And he took a few shots and yeah they got the win but you know what, he’s got to earn the right to be dirtying guys after the whistle when they beat us by five so I hope his face is a little sore right now.”
“It’s good that we got a short turnaround on these guys,” Lintner said. “They got a little chippy there at the end and I’m sure it will be the same once we start on Saturday night.”