Rock in top spot

DAVID W. UNKLE -- Special to SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 1:02 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA --"They're like mosquitoes," said Toronto head coach Terry Sanderson.

"You can get one of them but you're not going to get all of them."

And like most individuals discover, just when you think you're safe is when you get bit.

The Wings clipped Toronto for 19:52 between the second and third quarters but it wasn't long enough as Josh Sanderson, Colin Doyle, and Aaron Wilson combined for 9 goals and 29 points in a 15-11 victory over Philadelphia.

The win capped off a stellar season for the Rock who have now won six games in a row en route to a first-round playoff bye.

The Rock will play the winner of the Rochester Knighthawks-Buffalo Bandits game scheduled for the weekend of April 22-24.

The Rock unleashed their potent offensive attack on Philadelphia goaltenders, Dallas Eliuk and Nick Schroeder, throwing 72 shots on goal, including 21 in the first quarter.

After spotting the Wings a 2-1 lead, the Rock countered with three unanswered goals in the first quarter, including a pair by Colin Doyle.

The two-headed monster of Toronto, Doyle and Sanderson, have now scored 184 points in 14 games this season.

Despite grabbing the game's first goal just 58 seconds into the game, the Wings were somnolent throughout much of the first quarter.

Plagued by blocked shots and shot clock violations, the Wings mustered only three shots on goal in the opening 10:20.

Philadelphia made things interesting, potting five goals in the second quarter to narrow the score to 8-7.

Eliuk, who stopped 50 of the 60 shots in the game, held the Rock to one goal as Philadelphia regained the lead, 10-9, entering the final quarter.

"If it wasn't for Dallas, we would've been in the twenties (in scoring)," said Sanderson.

"I thought it was one of the finest games I've seen Dallas play and I've seen a lot."

Andrew Burkholder had a natural hat trick, including one on the power play, while the Wings defense played their best quarter of the game and arguably one of their best of the season.

The Rock threw eighteen shots on Eliuk but only one found the back of the net, Aaron Wilson's tally to end the scoring drought at 14:34 of the third quarter.

Three goals in a span of fifty-two seconds to open the fourth quarter sent Philadelphia reeling to their eighth loss in nine tries against the Rock.

"You could see it start to creep into the minds of some of our players," said Wings head coach Lindsay Sanderson.

"You could see a couple of our guys tighten things up and make bad decisions."

Blaine Manning and Chris Driscoll grabbed insurance goals in what was Tom "Hollywood" Marechek's final home game for the Philadelphia Wings.

The Wings fall to 6-8 on the season and miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Toronto improves to 11-3 on the season and faces the Wings on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre before closing out the season against Calgary.

David W. Unkle is a freelance sports writer and frequent contributor to SLAM! Sports. His work appears on several news outlets along with hosting The Topcat Sports Show in the Philadelphia market. David can be contacted via the Show's website at http://www.topcatsports.org or topcatsports@canoemail.com.


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