Rochester, NY – The Toronto Rock (1-0) defeated the Rochester Knighthawks (0-1) in a come from behind 13-12 win on Saturday night at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY on the night the Knighthawks raised their 2014 NLL championship banner.
“We didn’t get off to a great start and I think we looked a little nervous and weren’t very efficient with the ball,” explained Head Coach John Lovell. “I thought some of our character and leadership showed up later in this game and we kept hanging around.”
The Rochester Knighthawks stormed out of the gate, riding the emotion of a lively crowd, and built an early 3-0 lead. Rob Hellyer scored the first goal of the Rock season 8 minutes into the quarter. Rochester answered back quickly and held a 5-3 lead after 15 minutes of play.
Toronto scored the first two goals of the quarter to tie the score 5-5, but the Knighthawks scored three times to go up 8-5. Kasey Beirnes connected on the powerplay to interrupt the Rochester run and Hellyer scored his third of the half to draw the Rock to within one at 8-7. Rochester scored once more before the end of the first half to lead 9-7.
Brett Hickey and Stephan Leblanc scored for the Rock and tied the score 9-9. However, once again the Knighthawks rebounded and restored their two-goal lead with just 10 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter to carry an 11-9 lead into the fourth quarter.
Each team found the back of the net in the early going of the fourth quarter but Brock Sorensen’s first goal as a member of the Rock shaved the Rochester lead to 12-11. Damon Edwards scored on a breakaway and Kasey Beirnes followed that up with a goal in transition to give the Rock their first lead of the night at 13-12.
Josh Sanderson took a shot in the final minute, picked up the loose ball off the save and quickly called a timeout to give the Rock a full 30 second possession with just 49 seconds left on the clock. With 19 seconds remaining, Rochester took possession off the Rock shot clock violation and had one shot to tie the game and force overtime. Brandon Miller made his 27th save of the night to preserve the win.
“You’re talking about one of the smartest players in the game,” said Lovell of Sanderson. “He played with a lot of emotion tonight.”
Sanderson had a big night in the assist department picking up 7 helpers. His 6th of the game was the 800th assist of his NLL career.
Brandon Miller made 27 saves in the Toronto goal to earn the win. At the other end of the floor Rochester’s Matt Vinc stopped 35 shots and picked up the loss.
Rock goal scorers were Rob Hellyer (3), Stephan Leblanc (3), Kasey Beirnes (3), Brock Sorensen (1), Scott Johnston (1), Damon Edwards (1), Brett Hickey (1).
The Rock will play another road game on Saturday, January 10th at Vancouver and then enjoy a bye week prior to returning to Toronto to play their home opener on Friday, January 23rd against the Buffalo Bandits at 7:30pm at Air Canada Centre. Toronto Rock Owner Jamie Dawick has guaranteed a win over the Bandits. Should the Rock lose, every fan that has purchased a regular priced single game ticket to the home opener is eligible for a free ticket to any other 2015 Rock regular season home game at Air Canada Centre.
2015 Toronto Rock season tickets, flex packs, the upper bowl season pass and single game tickets are also all on sale now. For more information, please visit torontorock.com or call 416-596-3075 to speak with a ticket representative and get your hands on the BEST ticket in town.