Rock and Rush Square off for Round 2 in Battle of Division Leaders

When they faced each other three weeks ago at Rexall Place, the Toronto Rock (10-2) needed overtime to best the Edmonton Rush (5-4) by a score of 16-15. Saturday night the top teams in their respective divisions meet again, this time in the ACC in Toronto.

The Rush followed that overtime loss with another overtime loss the next weekend, when the lowly Calgary Roughnecks squeaked past them by a 12-11 score but they came back strong last weekend, taking their frustrations out on the Vancouver Stealth with a 19-7 beat down.

Mark Matthews continues to be the straw that stirs the drink in Edmonton, leading the team with 60 points (28 goals, 32 assists). In just nine games, Matthews sits at sixth in the NLL in points, with several games in hand on everyone in the Top 5.

Rookie of the Year candidate Ben McIntosh has fit into the Rush offensive scheme nicely. His 19 goals and 41 points overall are good for third-best on the team as well as placing him in the Top 20 in league scoring.

Between the pipes, Aaron Bold is pacing the NLL with a 9.40 goals against average and is a strong contender for the Goaltender of the Year award.

The Rock have been enjoying a sensational season in site of starting the year with a number of question marks on the roster. Instead, they started the season 9-1 in spite of not having stars Garrett Billings or Colin Doyle step onto the floor due to injury.

Last weekend they split a two-game series with the Buffalo Bandits showing they can be beaten, but they continue to be the class of the league.

Even without Billings and Doyle, the Rock have enjoyed a balanced and effective attack featuring five players in the league’s Top 20 in scoring. At the top of the list is Rob Hellyer, whose 85 points are already his career best with six games still to play. At his current pace, he would finish the season with a league-record 127 points.

Close behind him is veteran Josh Sanderson (13 G, 61 A). Shooter is third in the NLL scoring race and on pace for the seventh 100-point campaign of his storied career.

The offseason additions of Brodie Merrill (102 loose balls, 22 forced turnovers) and Brock Sanderson (50 LBs, 9 FTs) have turned the backend into a force to be reckoned with, surrendering just 10.6 goals per game.

Also reaping the benefits have been goaltending tandem of Brandon Miller (10.28 GAA) and Nick Rose (10.60 GAA) who are currently second and fourth, respectively, in league GAA.

The game plan for both teams will be simple: keep the other side’s offense under control. The team that shuts down the opposition’s biggest threats will be the one that comes out on top. Both squads have defenses that can control games, so expect a much lower scoring affair than the last time these teams met.

Game time is 7:30 pm ET.