Rob Shek doesn't have to score a half-dozen goals a game to please Philadelphia Wings coach Mike French. If he rattles the net once or twice a game, fine, but more important to French is Shek getting back on defense and following his simple $l philosophy of the indoor game -- don't get caught sleeping.
"You have to play this game from the defensive end out and Rob does that," said French, who also serves as general manager. "He's playing solid defense and getting back first on defense, which is what we ask him to do. We don't need Rob to score six goals like he did last time we played in Baltimore. We expect the Gaits [Gary and Paul] and Tom [Marechek] to carry most of the offensive load, but if Rob does and still plays good defense, I don't care."
French wasn't bothered by the six goals Shek scored last season when Philadelphia left the Baltimore Arena with a 23-9 victory. Nor was he upset with him last Sunday, when Shek came up empty in the goals-scored column in a 25-9 win over Baltimore. Eleven of Shek's teammates scored that night, nine of them had multiple-goal games and five recorded hat tricks in what was the Wings' widest victory margin ever.
"He was a little frustrated last week when everyone had their hat in the ring but him, but we held Baltimore to just three goals in the first half, and that's a direct reflection on him," said French. "As long as he can play solid man-to-man defense and help prevent teams from getting too many fast-break opportunities like we've been getting, he'll continue to develop and we'll continue to improve."
The goals always seemed to come so easily at Towson State, where Shek finished his career ranked fourth on the Tigers' all-time listwith 90 career points (77 goals and 13 assists). Last season, he finished as the Wings' third-leading scorer with 16 goals and 15 assists.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound forward did manage to tally three assists last week against Baltimore, raising his season totals to two goals and nine assists, but he wasn't thrilled with his effort.
"I'm sort of in a slump right now scoring, but I don't have a problem with it as long as we're winning," said Shek, a loan officer for Mortgage Capital Investors, who was drafted by the Wings in the first round of the 1992 Major Indoor Lacrosse League draft.
Shek doesn't have to live in Baltimore to know that the Thunder will be out for revenge tonight at the Arena. What he also knows is that the Thunder is an American-style team and that his squad has had no difficulty adjusting to that style of play.
"Baltimore is an American-style team and American-style teams make it easy to go through the middle and catch passes and shoot. If you try going across the middle on a Canadian-style team like ours or Buffalo, you might get killed."
Opponent: Philadelphia Wings
Site: Baltimore Arena
Outlook: The Thunder (0-4) takes on the same Philadelphia team that defeated Baltimore, 25-9, last Sunday night at the Spectrum. Philadelphia (2-1) leads the series 14-3, including victories in the past seven meetings. The Wings have a 6-1 record at the Baltimore Arena. Bill Dirrigl continues to be one of the MILL's premier faceoff specialists having won 58 of 95. The Wings are paced by the Gait brothers, Paul and Gary, who have combined for 21 goals and 18 assists in only three games. The Thunder, which is led offensively by Lindsay Dixon (seven, four) and Jeff Jackson (seven, two), welcomes the return of All-Pro Dave Pietramala, who missed Sunday's game due to illness.