Rock ready for fight

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Let's get ready to rumble.

It's time for the main event of the National Lacrosse League season.

For the first time since a game featuring five fights in the final minute Feb. 12, the East Division-leading Toronto Rock (8-3) and the West Division-leading Calgary Roughnecks (8-4) square off tonight at the Air Canada Centre with first overall in the 10-team NLL on the line.

"We'll do whatever it takes to get the win," said Rock enforcer Tim O'Brien, who started the five-fight sequence in the Rock's 16-10 win Feb. 12 with a bloody decision over Ryan McNish.

"If (a fight) happens, we're ready for it. Guys on this team can back themselves up. If it needs to be done, I'm there."

Consider those fighting words from a man ranked as the top grappler in lacrosse by laxmag.com. Interestingly, the Roughnecks signed the No. 2 man on that list, Chris Kinnear, after the previous game against Toronto. O'Brien, who played hockey for the infamous Johnstown Chiefs in the rough-and-tumble ECHL in 1997-98, is nicknamed the Surgeon, while Kinnear is dubbed No Fear. Unfortunately, however, the defending champs are not planning to use Kinnear tonight.

"I kind of like sticking to playing lacrosse," Calgary coach Chris Hall told Sun Media. "We've got a good lacrosse team that's big and strong and capable of taking care of itself. I don't really see any positive nature in having to dress (Kinnear) right now."

The Rock isn't focusing on fighting, either. It's a back-to-back weekend for Toronto, which faces the rested Wings (6-6) in Philadelphia tomorrow night in the opener of a three-game stretch between the teams. If the Rock wins both games this weekend, it will clinch a playoff spot.

"We talked for a split second about what two wins would mean to us, but Terry (Sanderson, the Rock's general manager/coach) quickly brought us back to (tonight) and nothing beyond," Rock defender Dan Ladouceur said. "They're the defending champs. How can you look beyond them?"

BRIEFLY

There is speculation the Rock will announce it will play host to the 2006 NLL all-star game next week. The tentative date for the 2006 all-star game is Saturday, Feb. 25 ... All-star Rock defender Glenn Clark tweaked a hamstring last week and won't play this weekend.

Update

The Rock has won three games in a row and six of its past seven ... Toronto is 3-0 against West Division opponents this season ... Rock D Ian Rubel returns tonight after missing the past two games with an undisclosed injury ... In a key game on the out-of-town scoreboard tonight, the Buffalo Bandits (8-5) play host to the Rochester Knighthawks (8-5) for second place in the East Division ... The organizers of Les's Fund are holding a "Keep Fighting Les" event tonight in honour of ex-Rock general manager/coach Les Bartley, who is battling cancer. Organizers, who are encouraging fans to make signs, will be selling bracelets to raise money for the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.


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