Rock on big roll

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

If the Toronto Rock can rally from a seven-goal, fourth-quarter deficit in a nothing game, imagine what this team can do when it counts.

Using a backup goalie and with four regulars out a day after it clinched the National Lacrosse League regular-season title, the Rock roared back from a 13-6 hole to beat the shell-shocked Philadelphia Wings 14-13 before 16,989 yesterday at the Air Canada Centre.

In its penultimate game of the season, the Rock (12-3) extended its winning streak to seven games and posted what is believed to be the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in the 19-year history of the NLL.

"Never in my life," NLL/Rock scoring leader Colin Doyle said when asked if he had ever been a part of such a huge comeback.

"I was unwilling to believe it, but then we made it 13-9 or something and I said, 'Geez, we might have a shot at this.' We kept rolling. I'm very impressed and very proud to be a part of a group that did that."

Less than 24 hours after securing home-floor throughout the playoffs with a 15-11 win in Philly, Rock coach Terry Sanderson replaced starting goalie Bob Watson with Phil Wetherup in the second half and didn't dress captain Jim Veltman and forwards Matt Shearer and Rusty Kruger.

For 51 minutes, the Rock looked unwilling to go the extra mile for a win. But then the floodgates opened.

Toronto scored seven goals in four minutes, 51 seconds to tie it at 13-13, including a couple with Wetherup pulled for an extra attacker. Chris Driscoll's breakaway goal at 11:07 of the fourth tied it.

Then, Driscoll picked up a loose ball in traffic, hustled up the floor and found Josh Sanderson, who beat Wings goalie Nick Schroeder from in close for the improbable winner with 1:32 left.

"When you can win games like that, it shows character," Rock forward Blaine Manning said. "That's what championship teams are made of -- an ability to come back."

This team, unlike previous Rock squads, has the best offence in the NLL.

Doyle (104 points this season and the first Rock player to top 100), Blaine Manning (98) and Josh Sanderson (96) are 1-2-3 in NLL scoring, with the latter tied for third and one assist away from tying his NLL record for assists in a season (68).

No Rock player had won a scoring title in the team's seven-season history.

"Whether that happened (yesterday) or not, I would have said there is something special here because this is a great group of guys," Doyle said.

"This might just add to it. A win like that, if you can ever quote a character win, that's it."

The Rock can finish with its best record in team history with a win over the Roughnecks in Calgary in the season finale Sunday.

Toronto plays host to the East Division final April 29.

It will face the winner of the Buffalo Bandits-Rochester Knighthawks semi-final April 23 in Buffalo.


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