Easy-does-it effort kills Rock

RYAN WOLSTAT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

Two of the least likely suspects on the Minnesota Swarm burned the Toronto Rock last night in a 13-11 victory at the Air Canada Centre.

Forward Chad Culp scored the winner -- just his eighth goal of the season -- with 94 seconds remaining, while Toronto native Eric Pacey chipped in with his first five points of the National Lacrosse League campaign.

Two weeks ago, Minnesota managed only a half dozen goals in a 13-6 home loss to Toronto. Last night, it reached that number by halftime.

Rock coach Glenn Clark admitted his club thought it was in for another easy game after that earlier win and the result was some poor transition play last night.

"Guys were thinking it was just going to unfold without making it happen," Clark said.

"(The 13-6 win) was an anomaly. This is a one-goal league and if you think you're better than you are, you're going to be in trouble."

Rock captain Jim Veltman agreed, saying: "A lot of guys have to take a good look in the mirror -- myself included -- and ask themselves if we really want this."

With both teams jockeying for playoff position and to stay ahead of the fifth-place Philadelphia Wings, the game had the feel of a post-season encounter. Players on both clubs were in ornery moods and ratcheted up their intensity several notches in front of a crowd of 15,469.

In particular, Pacey, playing in front of the family and friends he bought "40 or 50 tickets" for, played an inspired game for the Swarm.

"They beat us pretty bad in Minnesota, so it's good to pay them back," Pacey said.

Josh Sanderson led the Rock with seven points in the losing effort, while Veltman, Aaron Wilson and Blaine Manning each added three.

Unfazed by giving up five leads throughout the game, the Rock stormed back after falling behind 11-9 in the fourth quarter, but broke down late in the game.

Last night's contest had some major playoff implications as Toronto (6-8) is now 11/2 games behind Minnesota (7-6) and only a half-game up on the Wings.

The difference between finishing in third, rather than fourth place, in the East could be huge for the Rock. The fourth-place team likely will face the Rochester Knighthawks at Blue Cross Arena in the first round. Toronto has won only once there in franchise history, but has had considerable success at HSBC Arena, home of the second- place Buffalo Bandits.

That said, possible playoff matchups were the last thing on Clark's mind.

"We're not in a position to pick opponents. We've lost the opportunity to control our destiny," he said. "We have to make the playoffs."

That mission continues tonight, when the Rock meets the 4-10 Shamrox in Chicago.


Videos

Photos