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Time Is Running Out; Teams On The Bubble Look To Improve Their Playoff Chances This Weekend

02/16/2002, 10:49am EST
By National Lacrosse League

This weekend marks the home stretch for each of the National Lacrosse League?s 13-teams. With the season?s last game taking place in less than one month?s time, many of the regular season contests have begun to take on playoff atmospheres with many of the squads vying for a spot in the 2002 NLL Champions Cup playoff race.

The first game of the weekend takes a place on Saturday as the Buffalo Bandits (7-6) play host to the Toronto Rock (8-2) for a mid-afternoon match-up at the HSBC Arena. Despite picking up an important 19-14 victory over Philadelphia last Friday, the Bandits then dropped a heartbreaking 15-14 overtime loss to Albany the next day. The NLL Northern Division leading Toronto Rock come into the game after winning a close 14-13 overtime game against Calgary last weekend. With a win, Toronto moves a step closer to clinching the Northern Division. The Game will be carried live across Canada on Sportsnet, set to begin at 3:30pm Eastern Time.

The Montreal Express (6-6) will try and recover from a 16-11 loss to Vancouver, their fourth straight, when they take on the Columbus Landsharks inside ?Shark Tank? (Nationwide Arena) at 7:30 p.m. The Landsharks are coming off a 15-14 overtime win against Philadelphia and are looking to gain ground on Montreal in the NLL Central Division.

The City of Brotherly Love has been anything but lovely to the Philadelphia Wings (5-6) as of late. The Wings have dropped their last two consecutive home games, including a 15-14 overtime battle with Columbus last Saturday. This Saturday however the team goes for its first win in more than a month?s time when they square off against the Ottawa Rebel. The Rebel were given a one-week bye in their schedule last week as a result of the team?s change in venues from the Corel Centre to Civic Centre. The two teams face-off at midfield of the First Union Center at 7:30 p.m.

Below are this week?s game capsules.

Sat. Mar 2
Toronto Rock at Buffalo Bandits,
3:30 p.m., HSBC ARENA
TV: Sportsnet
Radio: Toronto- The Fan (590-AM); Buffalo- WSNA (107.7-FM)
Webcast: www.NationalLacrosse.com

Record: Toronto (8-2, 1st NLL Northern Division); Buffalo (7-6, 3rd NLL Central Division)

Key Players for Toronto: Goaltender Bob Watson (1st in NLL Goals Against Average with 11.19); Forward Colin Doyle (1st in team scoring with 51 points); Forward Dan Stroup (2nd in team goals with 24)

Head Coach: Les Bartley

Key Players for Buffalo: Forward John Tavares (Tied for 10th in NLL scoring with 68 points); Forward Roy Colsey (Tied for 11th in NLL scoring with 66 points); Goaltender Steve Dietrich (4th in NLL Goals Against Average with 12.66)

Head Coach: Frank Nielsen

Notable: Toronto is allowing the least amount of goals per game with 11.0 average.

Last Meeting: First meeting this season

Tickets: At HSBC Arena Box Office, through Tickets Charge-by-Phone at (888) 223-6000 and online at Tickets.com

Sat. Mar 2
Montreal Express at Columbus Landsharks,
7:30 p.m., Nationwide Arena
TV: None
Radio: None
Webcast: www.NationalLacrosse.com

Record: Montreal (6-6, 4th NLL Central Division); Columbus (5-7, 5th NLL Central Division)

Key Players for Montreal: Forward Tracey Kelusky (2nd in NLL scoring with 80 points); Forward Ted Dowling (9th in NLL scoring with 69 points); Forward Bruce Codd (2nd in team assists with 32)

Head Coach: Terry Sanderson

Key Players for Columbus: Forward Gewas Schindler (1st in team scoring with 51 points); Forward Kasey Beirnes (1st in team goals with 27); Forward Kyle Arbuckle (3rd in team scoring with 34 points)

Co-Head Coaches: Wayne Colley and Chris Gallagher

Notable: Montreal ranks second in NLL Power Plays with a 60.0 percentage?The Express are averaging the second most goals per game with a 15.8 average

Last Meeting: Jan 11, 2002 Columbus 13 at Montreal 12

Tickets: At Nationwide Arena Box Office, through Charge-by-Phone (614) 431-3600 and online at Ticketmaster.com

Sat. Mar 2
Ottawa Rebel at Philadelphia Wings,
7:30 p.m., First Union Center
TV: None
Radio: None
Webcast: www.NationalLacrosse.com

Record: Ottawa (2-9, 4th NLL Northern Division); Philadelphia (5-6, 2nd NLL Eastern Division)

Key Players for Ottawa: Forward Chris Konopliff (1st in team scoring with 55 points); Forward Ryan Painter (1st in team goals with 28); Forward Mike Benedict (2nd in team scoring with 49 points)

Head Coach: Lindsay Sanderson

Key Players for Philadelphia: Forward Tom Marechek (8th in NLL scoring with 70 points); Forward Kevin Finneran (2nd in team assists with 27); Forward Jeff Ratcliffe (Tied for 2nd in team goals with 31)

Head Coach: Adam Mueller

Notable: Philadelphia ranks 3rd in NLL Penalty Killing with a 55.9 average

Last Meeting: First meeting this season

Tickets: At First Union Center Box Office, through Charge-by-Phone at (215) 389-9571 and online at Ticketmaster.com

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