April 20, 2012
Rock still aiming for first place
By RICHARD MAUNTAH, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Safely in the National Lacrosse League playoffs, the Toronto Rock go into the final two weekends of the regular season, still with a lot to play for.
A home playoff game would be theirs, and the eastern division title would still be attainable should the Rock take care of business Friday when they face the Washington Stealth.
Should they couple that with a win next week at Edmonton, they would clinch first place so long as the division-leading Philadelphia Wings lose one of their final two games.
Any slip-ups, and they could easily see themselves travelling to Calgary or Denver during the first weekend in May.
What the Rock will also be looking for when they travel to Everett, Wash., will be to regain the momentum caused by three consecutive wins, which was ruined in last Saturday’s 19-12 loss to the Colorado Mammoth.
“That was the first stinker we had in the past month,” Rock general manager and assistant coach Terry Sanderson said. “Colorado was just shooting lights out. They had some well-executed plays.”
But Toronto’s offence continues to hum smoothly. Stephan Leblanc earned offensive player of the week honours in the league. And Colin Doyle has done his bit too. The captain’s next point will place him second on the list of the NLL’s all-time leading scorers, breaking the tie he currently has with the retired Gary Gait at 1,165.
“He’s one of the best guys in the league,” Sanderson said. “He’s finally getting rewarded with some points. He’s a very valuable piece of our puzzle.”
What makes the task harder for the Rock is that while they own a league-worst 4-10 record, the Stealth beat the Rock soundly at the Air Canada Centre in March and are still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
“I’m befuddled as to their record,” Sanderson said. “They’re a much better team than that 4-10 shows. We’re going to have to meet their energy level coming out.”
Washington comes off a 14-9 loss at Minnesota.
“We’re disappointed with the way we played at Minnesota,” head coach Chris Hall said. “We had long stretches where we didn’t play well.”
“There are no tomorrows left for us now. We have to shake things up on offence. “