The Toronto Rock return to the NLL Championship Game for the first time since 2005 on Saturday, May 15 to face the Washington Stealth. The game from Comcast Arena in Everett, Washington will be televised live on TSN at 10:30 p.m. ET.
To get here Toronto bounced back from a five-game losing streak in the regular season that saw their 6-1 start fizzle to a mediocre 6-6. The Rock have not found the easy win since then battling back from first half deficits in both single-game elimination playoff games, down six to Buffalo on May 1 and down by one to Orlando on May 8.
A win this weekend over the Stealth would move the Rock into a tie with the Philadelphia Wings as the most winning team in the NLL. Washington, formerly of San Jose, has not hoisted the cup.
The divisional champs meet on Saturday for the first time this season. The last meeting between the two came on April 18, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre, in the final game of the ’09 Rock’s 6-10 season.
Both teams have changed a lot since that time. Colin Doyle, former captain of the Stealth now leads the charge in blue and red for Toronto, while Washington’s leading scorer Lewis Ratcliff was a member of the Rock. Two weeks before the 2010 season began the two traded spots on the roster, opting for teams closer to home.
The pair led their respective teams in points through the 2010 regular season. Doyle is backed up by rookies Garrett Billings and Stephan Leblanc, while Ratcliff has scoring help from Rhys Duch and Jeff Zywicki.
They will be a challenge for the Rock’s new up-tempo defensive style brought in by GM-assistant coach Terry Sanderson and head coach Troy Cordingley. A challenge that Toronto’s back end, that includes Sandy Chapman, the 2010 NLL Defensive Player of the Year, and veterans Pat McCready and Phil Sanderson, is happy to face.
“We match up well,” said Terry Sanderson. “This is our strongest test of the year; we’re not going to change anything. Our goals against record was pretty good and we’re a confident group. We’re going to apply pressure.”
The NLL Championship Game will be a war on the floor in Everett with only one team emerging victorious.
Canadian fans unable to make the trip to Washington can watch the game live at 10:30 p.m. ET on TSN and online at NLL.com. For those in the United States, VERSUS will broadcast the Championship Game on Sunday, May 16 at 2:00 p.m.