TORONTO—The Toronto Rock hope history is on their side once again and that Rochester’s curse against the Rock during the playoffs continues.
After the Rock dropped their 10th consecutive regular-season decision in team history at the Blue Cross Arena on Saturday, losing 10-7 to the Knighthawks, Toronto will wish for their string of four straight playoff wins over Rochester to hold true.
The last meeting between the Rock and rival Knighthawks in the post-season was the Eastern Final in 2005, which Toronto won 12-10. The last playoff game between the teams in Rochester was the 2003 Championship, which Toronto won 8-6 led by a spectacular goaltending performance from Bob Watson. Toronto is 2-0 all-time on the road in the playoffs (2002 championship in Albany, 2003 championship in Rochester).
Many lacrosse pundits described the 2003 final as the best lacrosse goaltending performance in history, as Watson held the Knighthawks scoreless for over 23 minutes and made 40 saves.
“I remember we were thinking that he only allowed six goals and we thought there’s no way one team only gives up six goals in a championship game. We were on pins and needles in the last quarter, expecting Rochester to score,” said Andrew McKay, editor of the Lacrosse Journal and former scout with the Toronto Rock. “Rochester was pouring it on. We were just waiting for them to tie it up. It was almost that we were afraid to look.”
McKay also remembers a standout performance from Chris Driscoll, who had just been acquired from the New York Saints in a late-season trade. He finished that game with one goal and two assists.
“It’s the best game Driscoll’s played in a Toronto uniform. He was simply amazing in that game,” recalled McKay, noting the memorable goal where Driscoll ran up the side of the boards in celebration to give the Rock an early 4-0 lead which they never surrendered.
Rock head coach and GM Terry Sanderson said he expects a tight-checking affair once again this Saturday night.
“It promises to be a very good game,” he said.
Former Rock coach and current Knighthawks bench-boss Ed Comeau concurs.
“It’s going to come down to which team makes the least mistakes,” said Comeau, who added he believes Rochester’s curse against Toronto in the playoffs is history. “We’ve got a lot of new people with the team this year. The logo’s the same, but we’ve tried to change the attitude of this team.
Rock forward Josh Sanderson won the National Lacrosse League points title this season with 98 points, and led the league in assists for the second straight season with 69 helpers… Teammate Colin Doyle finished in third in the points race with 96 points… Rock Captain Jim Veltman set a new NLL single-season record with 226 loose balls this season, eclipsing the two previous records he set in 2003 (207 LB) and 2002 (203 LB)… Toronto is undefeated in playoff play at the Blue Cross Arena with a 1-0 record. They won the 2003 championship, 8-6, over Rochester at the Blue Cross Arena.
The winner of tonight’s NLL East Division semi-final advances to the NLL East Division final against the winner of tomorrow afternoon’s Buffalo-Minnesota semi-final. If Minnesota upsets Buffalo, Toronto or Rochester would host the East Division final. If Buffalo defeats Minnesota, the East Division Final would be hosted at the HSBC Arena.