The Toronto Rock is on the verge of doing something it has never done before in its almost decade of participation in the National Lacrosse League.
Miss the playoffs, that is.
A lost weekend saw the Rock lose a 13-12 overtime heartbreaker at home to the defending champion Colorado Mammoth on the heels of a 12-9 pasting in Edmonton at the hands of the Rush. It plummeted the team's record to 4-7.
The Rock held a 10-6 third-quarter lead over the Mammoth Saturday, but were outplayed in the fourth. Despite the NLL's horrible scheduling, which saw the team play in Alberta Friday night and play at home less than 20 hours later, Rock captain Jim Veltman wasn't going to use it as an excuse.
"You don't think about that when you are in a lacrosse game. You might feel it on the first shift as you try and get your legs, but then you are focused on the game at hand," he said.
The team traded veteran defender Phil Sanderson to Buffalo earlier in the week, and the Rock started eight players Saturday who weren't with the team a year ago. Mike Poulin got his first NLL start in goal, replacing veteran Bob Watson.
But, the kids almost beat the champs, and Veltman and his teammates are still seething over what they felt was a missed call in overtime. They felt Mammoth star forward Gavin Prout should have been assessed a penalty for interference right before the winning goal was scored.
"We all played our hearts out, can't say enough about the effort," said Velt,man. "To lose the way we lost, it was bulls__t."
Bad call or no bad call, the Rock needs to win four of its last five to have a realistic shot at the post-season.