SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Spokane Shock are ready to start their run at a second ArenaBowl title, but they will do so with a shortened week of practice.
The Shock put the finishing touches on a 14-4 regular season with a 61-43 pasting of Pittsburgh on Friday. Now Spokane gets ready to host a first round playoff game against the Chicago Rush. Because the Rush is a league-owned franchise, the team cannot host a playoff game. That gave homefield to the Shock, but scheduling conflicts at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena prevented a Friday or Saturday playoff game. Instead, the game had to be bumped up to Thursday, meaning less time to heal up and prepare between games.
"I think we're kind of conserving enery at this point of the season," Shock head coach Andy Olson said on Monday. "We're still beat up early this week. It was kind of a tough practice to get through. But guys will be better tomorrow. As the week goes on, the focus will increase."
Simply put, it's a case of mind over matter.
"Body feels awesome, just knowing it's the playoffs," said Shock defensive back Ruschard Dodd-Masters. "Just come with your mindset, be focused, and ready to make plays. You have to give it your all."
The Shock could certainly have it worse. While they're playing on just five days rest, at least they'll be playing on their home turf. Chicago will have to travel halfway across the country to Spokane on four days rest, following a 65-40 loss in San Jose on Saturday. The Shock will not be short on motivation come Thursday night.
"It's win or go home," said Shock quarterback Erik Meyer. "That's what sports is all about. All year you play for these moments."
Thursday's playoff game between the Spokane Shock and Chicago Rush will be televised live on SWX-TV (over-the-air 6-2, Comcast 115, Time Warner Cable 306, Droid/iPhone "Watch SWX" App), with live coverage beginning at 7:00 pm Pacific. The winner will face either defending AFL champion Arizona or San Jose in the National Conference championship game.