Toronto, ON – The Toronto Rock are in preparation for their biggest game of the season this weekend when they will take on a familiar rival who have presented the Rock with some of their most challenging games this season. The Rochester Knighthawks will arrive in Toronto for what is sure to be a spectacular display of offensive and defensive prowess from both of these teams on Friday April 29 at 7:30pm at the Air Canada Centre.
This weekend marks the second round of playoffs in the National Lacrosse League’s 2005 run for the Champion’s Cup. The Rock received a bye through the opening round of playoffs as they finished the regular season with a league best 12-4 record. The bye left second place Buffalo to battle third place Rochester last weekend in the opening round of Eastern Division playoff action at the HSBC arena. Rochester jumped out to an early lead in the game and Buffalo was never able to tie the score, succumbing to the Hawks with a final score of 19-14.
“We ran the floor well and moved the ball well as we did for the last six weeks of the season. We’re hoping to carry that momentum into the game this weekend.” Paul Day, Rochester Knighthawks Head Coach and GM.
Both the Rock and the Knighthawks had record setting seasons. For the first time in franchise history the Rock had three scorers finish with over 100 points on the season, ranking them all in the top five in league scoring. Colin Doyle claimed the league’s scoring title when he tallied a career high 111 points on 42 goals and 69 assists. Blaine Manning tied for second with Rochester’s John Grant, with 105 points on 39 goals and 66 assists. Josh Sanderson set a new record for assists in a single season with 71, breaking his own previous record of 68 which he set in 2002. Sanderson tied for third overall in scoring with Buffalo’s John Tavares, on 31 goals and 71 assists. Finally, Jim “Scoop” Veltman made it clear why he has led league looseballs standings for 12 of his 13 seasons in the league when he finished with 193 looseballs in just 13 games.
Despite a 1-2 regular season record against the Hawks, Terry Sanderson, Toronto Rock Head Coach and GM, isn’t worried about this weekend’s match-up. “I don’t think that the regular season has any bearing on this game. The last time these teams met up was in February and both have done a lot of growing and changing since that point in the season. There’s more meaning to this game and I can tell you that it’s going to one hell of a game this weekend.”
This weekend’s game should prove to be exciting as two of the league’s strongest offenses face off in a one shot playoff game that will send the victors to the Champion’s Cup final in two weeks time. While for the first time in Rock history, Toronto finished with the highest Goals For tally in the league (227G), the Knighthawks finished the regular season with a lower Goals Against tally at 179GA vs. the Rock’s 190GA. The Rock arguably have the best power play in the league with a 51.26 PP% against Rochester’s 44.25%. Both teams sit at over 60% on the penalty killing percentage, with the Rock recording a league best shorthanded goals scored in 2005 (17).
Tickets are still available for this Friday’s Eastern Division Final through Ticketmaster outlets at www.ticketmaster.ca , by phone at (416) 872 5000 or in person at the Box Office at the Air Canada Centre. Fans attending the game are also invited to attend the Toronto Sun Pre-Game Tailgate Party at the West Plaza from 5-7pm on Friday night. Two for the Show, the Molson Canadian Hot Rocks, and Rock sponsors will be on hand to kick off the 2005 playoffs in style.