When the Rock beat the Calgary Roughnecks in Cowtown back in early February, it seemed unlikely that both would be atop the National Lacrosse League standings heading into their critical meeting at the Air Canada Centre this afternoon.
At the time, the Rock was just 1-4 and Calgary stood at 3-2, but yet, here they are, tied for first in their respective divisions.
The two clubs have taken odd paths to their current records. Toronto (7-5) has gone on a 5-1 tear since while Calgary (6-5) has won three of its past four.
Both coaches respect their opponent immensely.
"We're playing the marquee franchise of this league and I think they proved that losing their first four and getting to where they are now,"Calgary coach Chris Hall said.
Replied Rock coach/general manager Terry Sanderson: "You're talking about one of the premier teams in the league. We know we'll have to be at our best to come out with a victory. I think you'll see two much improved teams going at it."
Sanderson believes the Rock's sublime performance in Calgary was the spark his team needed.
"After our disastrous start, we were trying to get back on track and play consistent ball, which for the most part I think we have," he said.
Trade deadline pickup Darryl Gibson is not expected to play for the Rock today but Sanderson expects to get him into the lineup before long. Calgary will be without defenders Taylor Wray (personal) and Ted Dowling (knee surgery).
With the exception of the Edmonton Rush (1-11), every team in the NLL stood at .500 or better entering play last night. Half a game was all that separated first place and finishing out of the playoffs in both divisions.