Swarm and Rock fight for playoff hopes at XCEL Ene
TORONTO – Two teams coming off significant losses last weekend will look to rebound this Saturday night when the Rock travels to Minnesota to play the Swarm at 8 p.m. at the XCEL Energy Centre.
With every team in the five-team Eastern Division sitting with a record of .500 or better, there’s no room left for mistakes with just a handful of games remaining. Both coaches know the significance riding on this game.
Toronto enters the game with a 7-6 record, tied for second place in the NLL Eastern Division. After a six-game winning streak midway through the season to move the Rock into a battle for first place overall in the League, the squad has lost two of its last three contests.
Rock head coach and general manager Terry Sanderson said he knows the Swarm hope to knock off the defending champs.
“It’s as important to us to win this game as it is to Minnesota,” Sanderson said. “I think we’ve finally realized these guys (Minnesota) are for real. It’s a crucial game… two of our last three efforts haven’t been our best. Regardless of those outcomes, we cannot get those back.”
Toronto defeated Minnesota earlier this season winning 13-8 at the Air Canada Centre on March 3, and the Rock are 3-0 all-time against Minnesota. Sanderson concedes the history means nothing.
“We’re coming into this like a wounded bear,” Sanderson said. “They have knocked off some pretty good teams so far this season…. We’ll have to be on our game without question.”
Minnesota (6-6, tied for fourth in the Eastern Division) led in the fourth quarter last Saturday before dropping a key game at home to Buffalo. Swarm head coach Adam Mueller realizes it doesn’t get any easier with the defending champs coming to town.
“Looking at the loss last Saturday, it was a tough one. We couldn’t get anything going offensively in the (fourth quarter),” he said. “Toronto is ahead of us in the standings and it’s (a game) we definitely want to win. It’s going to take our best effort for 60 minutes… It’s going to be a tough one.”
“They’re the defending champs. Hopefully we can be in it at the end.”
Mueller knows a win over Toronto would provide his squad with some much needed mental confidence down the stretch.
“I think mentally that would be a big change for us. We would make a step towards continuing to compete for a playoff spot,” Mueller said. “We have a good ball club, but we have to work for everything. If we can put it all together and beat this great Rock club, it would be a good thing mentally for us.”
Mueller said he will wait until Saturday morning to make a decision which goalie – Nick Patterson or veteran Matt Disher – will start. Patterson played in the 13-8 loss to Toronto March 3. Bob Watson will get the start for the Rock.
The game can be viewed live through www.nll.com and the B2 Networks feed, or heard live on the Fan 590 radio station.
– The Rock will welcome its millionth fan in franchise history to the final home regular season contest of the season on April 8, a 7 p.m. start vs. the Philadelphia Wings. A handful of lucky fans will receive prizes from the Rock including one fan who will be the Grand Prize winner. Tell your readers, listeners and viewers “this could be you.”
– The earliest the Rock can clinch a playoff spot is on April 8.
– Playoffs begin the weekend of April 21-23.
– The Rock is hosting a Team Dinner at Montana’s Cookhouse on The Queensway on Thursday April 6. Players are on hand for autographs between 7-8 p.m.