SPORTS

New addition Crowley, Toronto Rock confident heading in to NLL playoffs

05/07/2015 05:08 EDT | Updated 05/07/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Kevin Crowley has played just four games with the Toronto Rock, but he's already bought into their culture.

Crowley joined the top-seeded Rock at the trade deadline, helping Toronto clinch a first-round bye in the National Lacrosse League playoffs. The Rock will play the winner of Friday's East Division semifinal between the Buffalo Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks.

"We're fired up. Our goal is a championship and we're going to have get to through either Rochester or Buffalo to get there," said Crowley. "We have respect for our opponent but we don't fear them, I guess you could say.

"We're focused on our goal and they're in the way of that."

Preparing for two potential opponents doesn't faze Crowley or his Toronto teammates.

"It doesn't matter to us. I think we're a confident group in our locker-room," said Crowley. "I think that when we play together and when we are at our best we're a very tough team to beat."

Crowley was traded to the Rock (14-4) from the New England Black Wolves for sniper Garrett Billings on March 31. Billings was sitting out as he negotiated a new contract with the Rock.

The 26-year-old Crowley has six goals and six assists in four games with the Rock, who ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak. Toronto finished at the top of the East with the best record in the NLL.

Joining Toronto has been a massive culture change for Crowley, who spent three seasons with the Philadelphia Wings before they moved to Uncasville, Conn., in the off-season and became the Black Wolves. New England is one of the younger teams in the NLL and struggled to a 4-14 record this season.

The differences between the two teams were immediately apparent to Crowley.

"They're just building a culture in New England. I think it comes with a couple of years and getting the right people in place to help you build a great culture," said Crowley, who still lives in Philadelphia. "Coming to the Rock dressing room you could see that was already in place.

"The expectations of the players in practices and in games were already established. It was going from building it to a team that already had that culture in place."

Although Crowley was productive with the Black Wolves with 19 goals and 33 assists in 10 games, he was happy to be traded.

"It kind of felt like I got almost like a new lease on the season," said Crowley. "I was excited. I grew up watching the Toronto Rock play, I was a big fan of them growing up. So to have the opportunity to put on this jersey is something special to me."

The Rock are not the only Canadian team in the NLL playoffs. The Edmonton Rush (13-5) finished atop the West standings, while the Calgary Roughnecks (7-11) will play the Colorado Mammoth (9-9) on Saturday in that division's semifinal.

Crowley welcomes the prospect of an all-Canadian Champion's Cup final.

"That would be awesome. It'd be great for the sport in Canada," said Crowley. "Hopefully you get your national TV coverage and everyone can tune in and watch that battle, which I'm sure it would be."

Both the East and West semifinals will be single elimination. The division finals will be a best of two series, with a 1-1 series tie being broken by a 10-minute game played immediately after the conclusion of Game 2.

The Champion's Cup final will be a best-of-three series between the East and West champions held on successive weekends starting May 29-31. Toronto has home-turf advantage throughout the playoffs, with Edmonton claiming the second seed.

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