Duluth, GA – The Toronto Rock (7-2) won their sixth straight game by narrowly defeating the Georgia Swarm (0-6) by a score of 11-10 on Friday night at Gas South Arena.
It was a very typical script for the first half of the game at least. The Rock built a big lead, but as has happened in a couple of road games now, the door was left open, and Georgia rallied back to make it a very close game in the end.
“I thought we were pretty good early on,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer. “Offensively, start to finish, it was not a night where we were shooting very well, we missed a lot of nets. Again, we found a way, got a boost from our transition and Rosey was outstanding tonight. We pulled it out at the end, we face a little adversity and figured it out.”
The Rock had a tremendous start to this game, leading 4-1 after one quarter. One of those four Rock goals was the first NLL goal for rookie forward Josh Dawick, playing in just his second NLL game. Dawick ripped an outside shot that was too much for Swarm goalie Brett Dobson to handle as the Georgia stopper got some, but not enough of the shot to keep it out.
While the Swarm got one back to open the second quarter, it was a textbook Rock run of three goals that gave the Rock a 7-2 lead. Dawick’s second of the game was the third goal of the run and it also chased Dobson from the Swarm cage. Georgia scored another pair of goals to draw to within three, trailing 7-4 at the half.
Georgia scored twice early and were behind by just one. The Swarm were riding the hot goaltending of Craig Wende. With the score 7-6, Tom Schreiber bumped off his man, switched hands and shot lefty to finally solve Wende and jump back ahead by two, 8-6. Before the quarter was done, the Swarm scored again to get back to within a goal once again, the Rock clinging to an 8-7 lead.
Shayne Jackson scored for the Swarm to tie the game 8-8 just under two minutes into the fourth quarter. However, right on cue, the Rock took over the game with another run of goals. Stephen Keogh, Schreiber, and Dan Craig pushed the Rock ahead by three, leading 11-8. The Swarm scored twice and with less than three minutes to go, it was a one-goal game.
The final moments were frantic. A late Rock penalty for holding amidst the chaos to Brad Kri gave the Swarm a late 6-on-4 advantage as they had pulled their goalie. A glorious scoring opportunity hit the post, the Rock recovered the ball and the visitors hung on for the road win.
Schreiber finished with three goals, while Dawick and Craig had two each. Keogh, Challen Rogers, Latrell Harris, and Mitch de Snoo each had singles.
“We’ve been saying it all year, that our defence is our backbone and we have what we like to think is the best goalie in the league in Nick Rose in between our pipes,” said Dawick after the one-goal win. “Every guy we send out there on defence is a beast and they just play super hard, and we know even if we’re struggling a bit, they are going to hold it down for us. It was crucial and we found just enough down the stretch to come out with the win.”
Toronto outshot Georgia 49-47 on the evening. Nick Rose, playing in his 200th career NLL game, made 37 saves in the Rock goal for his seventh win of the campaign. Wende allowed just four goals and made 26 saves in relief of Dobson who allowed seven goals on 19 shots.
The Rock power play was 0-for-2, while the Swarm were 1-for-2 with the man advantage.
Tickets are on sale now for the Rock’s next home game at FirstOntario Centre on Saturday, February 18 against the Georgia Swarm at 7pm ET.