TORONTO – On the eve of the NLL all-star game, it was an underrated hero that helped propel the Toronto Rock to a 12-11 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Wings in front of 16,164 at the Air Canada Centre.
Aaron Wilson notched his fifth goal of the game, this time a power-play marker 3:20 into the extra frame to give the Rock their fifth straight victory and move the club into a tie for first place in the NLL East Division.
Wilson, who currently ranks second in the league with 27 goals, was quick to credit his goaltender Bob “Whipper” Watson for the victory.
“Whipper was unbelievable (tonight),” said Wilson, who also mentioned that he was inspired by a pre-game ceremony in which the Rock unveiled a banner high atop the Air Canada Centre to recognize the contributions of the late Les Bartley. “He (Les) is the reason I am here.”
Blaine Manning opened the scoring for the Rock, delivering his 14th goal of the season at the 2:59 mark of the first quarter. Philadelphia’s Rob Van Beek then evened the score at one before Matt Shearer and Aaron Wilson responded for the Rock, giving the home squad a 3-1 advantage after one quarter of play.
Trailing 3-2 in the second, Wings defenceman Kyle Sweeney jumped on a loose ball and went coast to coast, notching a short-handed marker to tie the game at three. Sweeney’s unassisted effort helped shift the momentum in favour of the visiting team, as the Wings went on to score twice more before the half to take a 5-3 lead.
With Philadelphia ahead 6-3 at 8:59 of the third quarter, Wilson took advantage of a delayed penalty call to score his second of the contest. The goal put an end to the Rock’s scoreless streak of 25:51 that extended back to the opening quarter. It also provided a shot in the arm for Toronto, who rallied to tie the contest just one and a half minutes later.
Toronto continued to press in the fourth quarter, as Manning, Colin Doyle and Wilson all found the net to open up a 9-6 lead. However, the Wings responded in a big way, scoring five unanswered – including two by Jake Bergey – to take an 11-9 lead. It wasn’t enough to put away the Rock though, as Philadelphia watched Josh Sanderson and Brian Beisel each find the back of the net to bring the Rock even and set up the overtime thriller.
Wilson led all scorers with five goals on the night, while Doyle and Manning also scored twice for the Rock.
Jake Bergey and Sean Greenhalgh each managed two goals for the Wings, while Dan Marohl had a goal and five helpers.
The Hall of Fame Weekend Festivities continue tomorrow when the Rock hosts the 2006 National Lacrosse League All-Star Game at the Air Canada Centre at 4 p.m. Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster at ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 416-872-5000.
Notes: Toronto improved to 2-1 in overtime at home this season … The Rock were shut out in the second frame, marking the first time the club has failed to score in a quarter this season … The NLL honoured the league’s first five inductees into the Hall of Fame prior to Friday’s game. Among the inaugural class was the late Les Bartley, who led the Rock as head coach to four NLL championships during his tenure with Toronto … The other inductees included co-league founders Chris Fritz and Russ Cline, as well as brothers Paul and Gary Gait, two of the most talented players in NLL history … The NLL All-Star Skills Competition took place at halftime of Friday’s contest, with several of the league’s elite showcasing their talents.
National Lacrosse League
ROCK 12, WINGS 11
(At Air Canada Centre)
1. Toronto, Manning (Beisel, Veltman) 2:59.
2. Philadelphia, Van Beek (Finck, Hajek) 4:51.
3. Toronto, Shearer (Suddons) 5:11.
4. Toronto, Wilson (Shearer, Manning) 13:08.
Penalties – Philadelphia, Morley (illegal substitution) 9:59.
5. Philadelphia, Greenhalgh (Wiles, Marohl) 3:15.
6. Philadelphia, Sweeny, (unassisted) 9:10 sh.
7.Philadelphia, Marohl, (Bergy, Morley ) 10:32.
8. Philadelphia, Wiles (Van Beek) 13:35.
Penalties – Philadelphia Hajek (holding) 7:14; Toronto Dickie (checking in the crease) 11:10; Philadelphia Spano (checking from behind) 11:49; Toronto Ladouceur (holding) 12:30.
9. Philadelphia, Ratcliffe (Marohl,Greenhalgh) 1:02
10. Toronto Wilson (P. Sanderson, Manning) 8:59
11. Toronto Doyle (Manning, Merrill) 9:58
12. Toronto Wilson (Manning, Veltman) 10:31
Penalties – Philadelphia Robertson (roughing, fighting major) 6:16; Toronto, Dickie (fighting major) 6:16; Toronto Taylor (illegal cross check) 13:32.
13. Toronto, Manning (MacDonald, Suddons) 1:24
14. Toronto Doyle (J. Sanderson, Manning) 3:52
15. Toronto Wilson (J. Sanderson, Taylor) 8:56
16. Philadelphia Greenhalgh (Wiles, Sweeney) 9:26
17. Philadelphia, Hajek (Marhol, Spano) 10:08
18. Philadelphia, Bergey (Marhol, Van Beek) 11:56
19. Philadelphia, Morley (Greenhalgh, Marohl) 12:31
20. Philadelphia Bergey (Hajek, Clark) 13:09
21. Toronto J. Sanderson (Veltman, Doyle) 13:30
22. Toronto Beisel (Doyle, J. Sanderson) 14:07
Penalties – Toronto Marshall (holding) 4:51.
23. Toronto Wilson (Veltman, Manning) 3:40 PP.
Penalties – Philadelphia, Sweeney (holding) 3:06.
Player of the Game
1 2 3 4 OT T
Philadelphia 1 4 1 5 0 11
Toronto 3 0 3 5 1 12
Shots on Goal – Philadelphia 48; Toronto 49.
Goalies – Philadelphia Roik (L, 37 saves on 49 shots); Toronto Watson (W, 37 saves, 48 shots).
Powerplays – Philadelphia: 0/4; Toronto 1/4.
Referees – Chet Couture, Mark Trinaistich, Joe Jastrzemski.