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Comeback falls short for defending champs

The Toronto Rock, down by six goals at the half, put a valiant effort together in the second half but fell short in a thrilling 14-13 overtime finish at the Air Canada Centre on Jan. 7.

Jonas Derks finished with four goals and four assists for 8 points, while Blaine Manning led the way for the Rock with two goals and four helpers. Colin Doyle had a hat-trick to lead the Rock in goals.

In the opening ceremony the captain, Jim Veltman took the microphone, and unveiled the Toronto Rock Championship Banner, celebrating their Championship last season and getting the fans energized.

Toronto came out in good form in the opening quarter.

Defender Phil Sanderson opened up the Rock scoring, picking up an Arizona rebound off the goal post which sent him on a breakaway from centre. He beat Sting goaltender Mike Miron. Then Rock forward Matt Shearer and Derks exchanged goals for their teams as the 1st quarter came to an end, Rock leading 2-1.

In the 2nd quarter, the Sting fought back and scored four straight goals putting the Sting in front 5-2. Aaron Wilson then streaking to the net on a feed from Sanderson beat the goaltender cutting the score to 5-3. The Sting then went on a streak again, scoring four more goals in the quarter, including a Chris Seller short-handed goal.

The score at half time was 9-3 in favour of Arizona and it looked like the Rock were out of the picture. But the second half was a different story.

In the 3rd quarter, Blaine Manning opened the first of three straight goals for the Rock on the power play. Then Veltman and Shearer (his second) added singles closing the deficit to three with a 9-6 Sting lead.
Midway through the 3rd quarter, both teams exchanged goals back and forth. Rock forward and reigning NLL MVP Colin Doyle scored two goals to make the score 11-8 for the Sting after the 3rd quarter.

In the 4th quarter, Manning opened the scoring on a feed from Chris Driscoll then running past the Sting defender, jumping in the air, and putting it past goaltender Miron.
That sparked the crowd of 17,527 and the comeback for the Rock.

Rock forward Rusty Kruger kept the capacity crowd on the edge of their seats by scoring twice, 1:09 apart tying the game at 11.

The teams exchanged goals late in the 4th quarter.

In the final minute of play, with the Rock down 13-12 and pressing, Colin Doyle scored the tying goal all alone in front of the net to tie the game at 13 and force overtime.

After some spectacular goaltending in the first few minutes of sudden-death overtime, Andrew Guindon converted on a fastbreak after a great pass from captain Peter Lough, and beat Watson to the side for the winner at 2:01 of the final frame.

The Rock’s next home game is Friday Jan. 13 against the Buffalo Bandits at 7:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre.
Arizona 14, Toronto 13 (OT)
Shots on Goal, Rock 52, Arizona, 47

Toronto Rock