In their last meeting in Toronto on April 17, the Toronto Rock beat the New England Black Wolves 15-12. Friday evening will be the team’s third meeting of the season and Toronto’s first trip to Mohegan Sun. Playing for the first time in an unfamiliar arena may provide a slight advantage to the Black Wolves over the Rock, but Toronto is having an unstoppable season.
With a win, the Toronto Rock can wrap up first place in the NLL and home floor advantage for the Champions Cup, in addition to recording their 14th win of the season, a franchise record. Currently they sit at 13-4. If the Rock do lose, however, a Rochester loss on Saturday would also secure first place for the Rock.
The Black Wolves had high hopes for their first season in Connecticut, but failed to improve on last season in Philadelphia, and will miss the playoffs for the second straight year with a record of 4-12, good enough for last place in the league.
This David vs Goliath scenario is made even more prominent by the rosters for each team. Rob Hellyer will return for the Rock after sustaining an injury on March 21. Hellyer is third in Rock scoring with 86 points even after missing four games. The Rock have five players who have scored over 60 points this season, and Josh Sanderson is four points away from 100.
In contrast, the Black Wolves have only one player sitting at 60 points in Pat Saunders. They have also lost intimidator Andrew Suitor, who was only able to play four games before tearing his ACL. Suitor is not a highly offensive threat, but the intangibles he brings to every game will be missed by the Black Wolves.
In goal, Toronto boasts Nick Rose and Brandon Miller, who have a combined GAA of 10.47, which bests that of Evan Kirk and Tye Belanger at 13.69. Kirk has played the bulk of the minutes this season for New England, while Rosey and Miller have split time in the Toronto net.
In the stories, David beats Goliath, and in lacrosse, anything can happen. On paper, however, and in practice, as the numbers show, the Rock are the giants in the NLL this season, and likely to win their final regular season contest.