Rock looking to solve Knighthawks

RYAN WOLSTAT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

The Toronto Rock gained entry into the National Lacrosse League's playoff derby last night without lifting a stick.

Despite a four-game losing streak to start the season and defeats in three of its past five contests, the Rock is in because Buffalo defeated Philadelphia 8-7 last night.

However, there still is much on the line tonight at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y.

The Rock, winless in nine regular-season tries versus the Knighthawks in that building, can clinch second place in the East Division and a home playoff game at the Air Canada Centre with a win. Rochester can lock up a spot with a victory.

Rock coach/general manager Terry Sanderson said yesterday's result will not affect the way his team approaches the game.

"This doesn't change our game plan at all," Sanderson said after watching the Philadephia loss with his team last night.

"They've got the same things on the line as we do," he said. "There are a lot of winners on the Rochester team and they scare the hell out of me."

The Rock's goal then, is to exorcise some demons tonight as well as secure a home playoff date in the friendly confines of the ACC.

With a win, the Rock will guarantee at least one more game at its home rink. The team has averaged an NLL-high gate of 16,272 this season, compared to the league average of 10,702. Packed home crowds have helped the Rock greatly during its run to five league championships.

Colin Doyle said his teammates appreciate the support and understand the edge the raucous home crowd gives them. "The fans mean the world to us and we're hoping we can get them a home playoff date," he said.

ROCK NOTES

More than a post-season spot will be on the line tonight. Rochester standout John Grant -- the league's runaway leader in goals --enters the game tied with Doyle and Josh Sanderson with an NLL-best 92 points. Doyle edged Grant (who played one less game) along with Rock teammate Blaine Manning, by six points last season and was named league MVP ... Sanderson set the NLL's single-season assist mark last year with 71 and can top that with six helpers tonight.


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