Photo: Rock players Stephan Leblanc and Garrett Billings along with Head Coach Troy Cordingley take a look at the large number of donations brought in by Rock fans at Sunday’s exhibition scrimmage against Minnesota. Donations went towards the Six Nations Community Christmas Basket Drive.
Toronto – After dropping their first two pre-season matchups, the Rock again started slowly but ten second half goals powered the defending NLL champions to a 15-13 win over the Minnesota Swarm on Sunday evening at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Six Nations, Ontario.
Toronto found themselves down 5-2 after one quarter and then trailed 6-2 late in the second quarter. Garrett Billings, Kasey Beirnes and Stephan Leblanc then combined to rattle off three straight goals in 2:14 to close the gap to 6-5 at the half.
The third quarter belonged to the Rock. Nick Patterson replaced Tyler Carlson in the Minnesota cage and saw seven Toronto shots get by him as the Rock led 12-8 after three quarters. Captain Colin Doyle scored three goals in the quarter to lead the surge.
Minnesota rallied in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough as despite outscoring the Rock 5-3 in the final fifteen minutes, the Swarm could never close to within fewer than two goals.
The game featured five fights as well as Rock Head Coach Troy Cordingley being ejected from the game just two minutes into the fourth quarter.
“The blatant high stick that was missed,” remarked Cordingley when asked about what set him off in the fourth quarter. “The Minnesota player went right for our players’ head and there’s no room for those kind of hits to the head in our league. There has been a heightened awareness for hits like these and it’s a focus call. We’ll wait and see what the league has to say, however, I thought it was disgusting.”
Doyle added four assists to his three goals for a seven-point game. Billings also had a hat-trick to go with a pair of helpers for five points. Matt Roik got the win in the Rock goal allowing 11 of the 13 Swarm goals in 58 minutes of work. Pat Campbell gave up two goals in two minutes at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Campbell exited the game when he was given a game misconduct after he left his crease and made his way down the floor to get involved in an altercation.
“We will not be taken advantage of,” said Cordingley. “We’re team tough. I like how we responded to the different situations that we were put in this evening. When two of our leaders in Blaine Manning and Colin Doyle are stepping up to take care of matters, it speaks volumes.”
“We played extremely well,” Cordingley went on to say. “Their goalie Tyler Carlson was sensational in the first half. We had numerous quality chances but he kept closing the door. We got better as the game went along and we certainly battled hard.”
The Rock staff will now make their final decisions on just who the 23 players will be that start the season on the active roster. The roster deadline is Thursday, December 22nd and 12noon ET. Each team also has 3 practice roster spots to fill if they choose to.
On Sunday, January 8th at Air Canada Centre, the Rock will open their 2012 campaign and defence of the Champion’s Cup. The opponent will be the Calgary Roughnecks and the game will be broadcast live on TSN at 6pm ET. Season Tickets, Single Game and Group Tickets are on sale now. For more information please visit www.torontorock.com or call the Rock office at 416-596-3075 and speak with a ticket representative.