The Toronto Rock are able to clinch their first playoff berth since 2007 this weekend with a win over the Buffalo Bandits at HSBC Arena on Saturday. Game time is 7:30 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast live on TSN2 across Canada.
After five straight losses, a rejuvenated Rock hit the turf last weekend walking away with back-to-back wins to advance to second place in the East with a 8-6 record. The first win since February 12 came at home on Friday when the Rock took the Calgary Roughnecks 9-8. On Saturday, the Wings were next on the hit list as Toronto convincingly took the decision 13-6 on the road in Philadelphia.
“This league of ours is about getting breaks at the right times,” said Terry Sanderson, Toronto’s GM and assistant coach. “We got some breaks and things were just going for us on some of our goals. A lot of them found the net.
“We still play the same systems.”
Rock rookie Stephan Leblanc was a major catalyst in the winning weekend recording 17 points from nine goals and eight assists. His outstanding play earned him League recognition as Overall Player and Rookie of the Week.
“I’m just happy to be on the right track,” said Leblanc after the win in Philadelphia. “Hopefully these two games can get us going on a winning streak.”
Leblanc was not the only rookie to impress this weekend, in fact 15 of Toronto’s 22 goals were scored by first-years. Garrett Billings added four and Geoff McNulty had two.
“Our rookies have stepped up,” said Rock head coach Troy Cordingley. “We’re real happy with those guys.”
The Buffalo Bandits (6-7) lost last weekend in overtime at home to the Colorado Mammoth. Toronto’s up-tempo pressure defence has to keep an eye out for Mark Steenhuis who leads Buffalo with 74 points and league veteran John Tavares who scored the overtime winner in Toronto on March 12 to give the Bandits the 11-10 win over the Rock.
“Buffalo is a big big rival,” said Sanderson. “Coming off the loss last weekend, I’m sure they’ll be ready for whatever we bring to them on Saturday.”
Toronto and Buffalo each hold one game and are looking to take their second win in the best of three series. With the divisional race as close as it is in the East, this game will be important for potential standings for whomever can clinch the tiebreaker.
“It is a huge game for both of us, as it gives either team the tiebreaker that could play a huge role down the road,” Sanderson points out.
Toronto is also able to secure a playoff spot with two Rochester Knighthawks losses this weekend. The combination of one Toronto win and one Rochester loss will secure at least a second place standing for the Rock giving them first round home playoff spot. For all National Lacrosse League playoff scenarios for this weekend, visit the NLL Website.
Fans across Canada can catch the game live at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN2. Those outside of Canada can tune into the NLL Network live web stream from HSBC Arena on www.nll.com.