Toronto Battles Back To Tie The Game Late Only To Surrender Winning Goal In Final Minute
Oakville, ON – The Toronto Rock played from behind for the entire night, losing 16-14 to the Saskatchewan Rush in NLL preseason play on Saturday night at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) in Oakville.
Toronto never held the lead and after tying the game late, they gave up the winning goal in the final minute to drop their record to 1-1 in exhibition play with one more preseason tune-up remaining before opening night.
Scoring in pairs was the theme in the opening 15 minutes. Robert Church and Mike Messenger scored just five seconds apart early in the first quarter. It took over five minutes for the Rock to respond, but when they did Dan Craig and Stephen Keogh struck for the home side 31 seconds apart. The Rush broke the tie with less than two minutes to go in the frame, scoring two goals in 55 seconds to lead 4-2 after one.
The Rush scored another pair early in the second quarter to stretch their lead to 6-2. Rock forward Dan Dawson rolled off a defender and bounced one past Eric Penney in the Rush goal to break up Saskatchewan’s four-goal run. However, the Rush just went on another run, this time it was three goals in 57 seconds to lead 9-3. With the score 10-4, the Rock got another goal from Dawson and one from Corey Small, who finished off a nice passing play, to draw the Rock back to within four trailing 10-6 at halftime.
The Rush would build a 14-9 lead just past the midway point; however, the Rock were far from done. Marley Angus, Small and Tom Schreiber would all find the back of the net in a span of just 51 seconds to close the gap to 14-12. Off of a Rush turnover, Latrell Harris rocketed down the floor on a breakaway and fired a blistering shot, using both posts to help the ball cross the line. The crowd at the TRAC was energized and the Rock were within a goal, down 14-13 through three quarters.
The Rock extended their run to five goals when Dan Craig fired a rocket by Laine Hruska in the Rush goal to tie the score 14-14 with 7:08 to play. The game remained tied as both Hruska and the Rock’s Troy Holowchuk provided strong goaltending to keep the score deadlocked into the final minute of the fourth quarter. With 41 seconds to play, the Rush got the go-ahead goal from the stick of Jake Boudreau and 35 seconds later, he also scored the empty net goal that sealed the 16-14 Saskatchewan preseason win.
“I thought offensively we were a little slow out the front door, myself in particular, a little stagnant and I was not moving my feet enough, and that caused some turnovers that turned into goals and some pretty easy ones for them,” said Small who scored three times. “Obviously it’s preseason and it’s the time to be making those mistakes and learn from them and get better. One of the positives we can take from today, when it was 9-3 it’s easy to pack it in, we didn’t give up, we didn’t quit, the coaches did a good job of challenging us at halftime to be better. You could tell our energy was a lot better in the second half, shift in and shift out. We had a chance to win it and it really could have gone either way at the end.”
Nick Rose played the first half in net allowing 10 goals on 28 shots in 30 minutes while Troy Holowchuk played the second half and surrendered 5 goals on 17 shots and suffered the loss.
The Rush divvied up the goaltending duties between three ball stoppers. Eric Penney played the first 24 minutes and gave up just 4 goals. Cameron Dunkerley was next up and surrendered 9 goals over 22 minutes of net time. Hruska played the final 15 minutes and allowed a single marker.
The Rock will practice Tuesday night at the TRAC and then host the New York Riptide next Saturday night at 7pm also at the TRAC. Following that, it’s the Home Opener and Guaranteed Win Night when the Rock take on the Vancouver Warriors on Saturday, December 3 at 5pm at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton.
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