Rock needs help

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

The Air Canada Centre will be dark this spring when the respective leagues of its major tenants, the Maple Leafs and Raptors, begin the playoffs.

The National Lacrosse League's Toronto Rock won't have fans streaming through the turnstiles for playoff games either, in all likelihood.

The Rock entered last night's game against the Boston Blazers with the virtual certainty that it had to win all three of its remaining games to have a true shot at the NLL playoffs. But the Rock fell in a hole early and never was able to climb completely free, losing 14-13 to the Blazers before a crowd of 12,884 at the ACC.

"I wish I could give you an answer," said Rock forward Bill McGlone, who scored two goals. "We were pumped and excited to play. It's upsetting when something like that happens."

What happened was a brutally flat start by the Rock, which was down 4-0 in the first six minutes. Netminder Bob Watson was named the NLL player of the month for March, but he could not cover up his teammates' inability to get untracked, and the Blazers' first two shots on goal got behind Watson.

The Toronto players were happy that they popped 10 goals past former Rock backup Anthony Cosmo in the second half, but had that same effort been put forth in the opening 30 minutes, they would have been talking about a realistic chance at a playoff berth. The Rock had 66 shots on goal but that didn't matter.

Now, the Rock (5-9) has no choice but to win its remaining two games and hope that Rochester, which held the final playoff spot, goes in the tank. Rochester (6-6) has a two-game lead over Toronto following a 12-8 win over Colorado last night in Denver. Philadelphia (5-7) is ahead of the Rock by one game.

"It's out of our control, but what we can control is trying to win two more games," said Watson, who finished with 39 saves.

"We put ourselves in this situation."

Luke Wiles led Toronto with three goals and four assists, and Lewis Ratliff had three goals and three assists. Jason Clark scored twice.

Daryl Veltman had three goals for Boston, while Dan Dawson, Greg Downing, Matt Lyons and Sean Morris had two each.

Watson was inconsistent, and there were some goals he should have stopped.

"If I have learned anything about this game with my experience, it's that you are always three shots from getting pulled," Watson said. "You take the good with the bad, put on a brave face and come out again. It's great when momentum is on your side, but then you have to fight like hell to get it back when you lose it."

Boston was up 7-3 at the half, but Toronto clawed back with three goals to make it 7-6. The Blazers scored the next two goals to regain a three-goal lead, and the Rock did not get to within a goal again until Clark finished the scoring in the final second of the fourth quarter.

Take away the first six minutes, and Toronto wins.

"It reflects back on (the coaching staff) and it's unacceptable," coach Jamie Batley said. "We're fighting for our playoff lives, and normally at home, we have come out like a house on fire. We did not do that. It's inexcusable."

The Rock honoured fan favourite Dan Ladouceur during a stoppage in play, presenting a video tribute of his career on the video scoreboard. Ladouceur retired in February as the NLL's career penalty minute leader with 428, but more importantly, helped the Rock to win five championships.

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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