January 9, 2016
ROCK FALL 12-7 TO SWARM IN SEASON OPENER
Toronto Offence Held Silent For Almost 40 Minutes In Loss
Duluth, Georgia – The Toronto Rock (0-1) dropped their season opener on Saturday night by a score of 12-7 to the Georgia Swarm (1-1) at the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, Georgia in front of 9,087 fans.
The Rock were held scoreless for almost 40 minutes and managed to score just one goal in the second half. Georgia’s starting goaltender, which was maybe a bit of a surprise, Brodie MacDonald stopped 35 of 40 shots he faced to win the Swarm’s first ever home game after relocating to Georgia from Minnesota in the off-season.
“We had a 5-minute major and two other partial power plays to work on and had nothing to show for it,” said Rock head coach John Lovell. “I thought we did everything we needed to do in the first half to give us a chance to win. Our transition game was working well in the second quarter and we just didn’t finish. I was a little disappointed we were down by one (at halftime). Our offence just wasn’t clicking and hitting their spots and that’s the name of the game here tonight.”
Brett Hickey and Rob Hellyer combined early in the first quarter to give the Rock a 2-0 lead. The goal trading began from there and the first quarter came to a close with the two teams tied 4-4.
The second quarter was much the same with Georgia opening the scoring. Hellyer and Stephan Leblanc each scored their second goals of the game and the Rock led 6-5, less than five minutes into the frame. The Swarm rallied with two more goals, 92 second apart and carried the one goal lead into the half, up 7-6.
MacDonald’s goaltending combined with the Swarm’s defence really came to the forefront in the third quarter. Georgia’s back end held the Rock to just 9 shots on goal and the big Swarm netminder stopped every one of them. The home side stretched their lead to 9-6 after three quarters.
Another pair of goals were on the board in the fourth quarter before Hellyer’s third goal of the game broke up the seven-goal run and ended the Rock’s 39 minute and 32 second scoreless drought.
“We were settling for outside shots and not trying to get to the middle of the floor and I think that caught up with us,” said Rock captain Colin Doyle who played in his 209th career game in a Rock uniform to become the all-time leader in that category. “They buried their chances and we weren’t earning ours, I think that’s pretty clear that’s the way the game went and they took it to us.”
Rock goal scorers were Hellyer with a hat-trick, Leblanc with two and Hickey and Gilbert each had singles. Nick Rose made 32 saves on 43 shots in a losing effort.
Toronto will have a short turnaround with practice resuming on Tuesday evening, followed by a pair of games with Rochester this week. The first of which will be Thursday night at 7:30pm at Air Canada Centre in the Rock’s home opener. Friday will be a day off and then Rochester and Toronto will get together again one week from tonight at the Blue Cross Arena for the back half of a home-and-home on Saturday, January 16th.
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Photo: Georgia Swarm