St. Paul, MN – The Toronto Rock (5-1) rode the tidal wave of a 13-goal run to paste the Minnesota Swarm (3-3) by a score of 16-4 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota on Friday night. The two teams will have little time to rest, as they will face each other again on Saturday night at 7pm in Toronto at Air Canada Centre.
“They came out very hard with lots of pressure and we didn’t handle it as well as I would have liked,” said Rock Head Coach John Lovell. “We just wanted to stay in the game in the first quarter and that’s what we did. We settled in got our legs and went from there. It was an important game for us, we’re the team in first place right now and we want to stay there.
After Callum Crawford and Dean Hill gave the hometown Swarm a 2-0 edge, the Rock got on the board on a delayed penalty call as Josh Sanderson scored for the Rock. With just under 2 minutes remaining in the quarter, former Swarm transition player Brock Sorensen evened the score 2-2 with a beautiful behind the back strike.
Shayne Jackson connected early in the second quarter to restore a one-goal Swarm lead just 33 seconds into the frame. However just 90 seconds later, Rob Hellyer, Stephan Leblanc and Kasey Beirnes had all scored for the Rock to give Toronto their first advantage of the game and a 2-goal lead, 5-3. The Rock were not done there. In total, the visitors reeled off 9 straight goals in the second stanza to lead 11-3 at the half.
The Rock run didn’t stop there; Toronto scored the first 4 goals of the second half to build a 15-3 lead before the Swarm finally scored to break up the Rock 13-goal run. Minnesota went 30 minutes and 51 seconds without a goal and trailed 15-4 heading into the final quarter.
Both teams seemed to hit the cruise control button for a rather uneventful final 15 minutes with Toronto scoring the lone marker.
“They were ready tonight and so were we,” said Lovell. “I like the feeling in our dressing room right now. Certainly, I know that team has a lot of pride and they are going to come back and play extremely hard (Saturday) night.”
The Rock were led offensively by Stephan Leblanc who scored 4 goals and added 5 assists for his second 9-point game of the season. Other Rock goal scorers were Hickey (3), Beirnes (3), Sorensen (1), Patrick Merrill (1), Rob Hellyer (1), Sanderson (1), Damon Edwards (1) and Kevin Ross (1).
“We’ll have to take a look at the film, obviously things were going a bit right tonight,” said Leblanc. “The second half of the game, we slowed down a bit which tends to happen in games like this. We’ll focus on what worked and if we replicate that tomorrow it will be another fun night.”
Brandon Miller stopped 37 of 41 shots to earn his 4th win of the season. Individually, the 4 goals against was the lowest Miller has allowed in his NLL career. For the Rock, it was the fewest goals the team has allowed since January 23rd, 2010 when they beat the Knighthawks 17-3. Additionally, the four goals against set a record for the fewest goals surrendered on the road by the Rock in a regular season game. The previous Rock record was 5, all the way back in 2001 at Columbus.
The Swarm goaltending duties were split throughout the night by Brodie MacDonald and Zach Higgins, with multiple changes occurring throughout the game.
The Rock’s 13-goal run is the most in an NLL regular season game since the Colorado Mammoth went on a 14-goal run against the Edmonton Rush in 2008. Toronto’s 9 goals in the second quarter was a team best since also putting up 9 in a quarter in 2000 against Syracuse.
Saturday night, the Rock and Swarm will meet again at Air Canada Centre at 7pm. Be sure to bring your Valentine. For tickets and more information, please visit torontorock.com or call 416-596-3075.