Rock focused on Rock

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

Blaine Manning will be a silent observer.

The Toronto Rock forward will plant himself in front of a television tonight at 10 to catch the National Lacrosse League quarter-final between the third-seeded Colorado Mammoth and the No. 6 Vancouver Ravens from Denver\'s Pepsi Center. However, Manning won\'t be cheering for anybody.

The winner of tonight\'s tilt secures a duel with the No. 2 Rock in a semi-final next Saturday at the Air Canada Centre.

\"They\'re both good teams but to us, it doesn\'t really matter who wins,\" Manning said. \"We have to concentrate on ourselves.\"

Regular season statistics, Manning insists, mean zippo in a sudden-death playoff contest. That\'s why last season\'s NLL rookie of the year isn\'t concerned about a possible semi-final date with the Mammoth (9-7), the only team to beat the Rock (11-5) twice this season. On the other hand, the Rock won both meetings against the Ravens (9-7) this season.

NEW SEASON

The Mammoth, under the guidance of head coach Jamie Batley and associate coach Tony Resch (after the firing of head coach Rod Jensen on Feb. 26), won its final four games, including a 13-10 victory over the Rock in the season finale Sunday, to overtake the Philadelphia Wings for the Eastern Division title. Colorado\'s Gary Gait set a single-season record with 61 goals this year.

\"(Batley and Resch) have instilled a sense of urgency that probably didn\'t exist before,\" Mammoth general manager Steve Govett said. \"That\'s not because of what Rod (did or didn\'t do), but for whatever reason, these guys have responded to (Batley and Resch).\"

In a unique twist, Jensen joined the Ravens as an assistant to Paul Dal Monte after he was gassed by Colorado. The Ravens also are on a roll, winning six of their past seven to earn the league\'s final playoff berth. Winning in front of 15,000-plus fans in Colorado\'s first playoff game will be Vancouver\'s biggest challenge to date.

\"We know we face a pretty daunting task to go into their building to play a team whose record is not indicative of its level of talent,\" Dal Monte said.

Meanwhile, the No. 4 Buffalo Bandits (12-4) play host to the No. 5 Calgary Roughnecks (9-7) in a quarter-final tonight at 7 at HSBC Arena. The winner goes to Rochester to battle the No. 1 Knighthawks (12-4) in a semi-final next Saturday.


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