Toronto Scores Eight Straight To Win Exhibition Opener
Oakville, ON – The Toronto Rock rattled off eight straight goals to score a 16-12 win over the defending NLL champion Colorado Mammoth as preseason action opened on Saturday night at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville, ON.
The Mammoth showed few signs of any preseason rust in the early going of the first quarter, striking for the game’s first goal less than a minute in from the stick of recently acquired Mike Burke. The Rock’s top pick in the 2022 NLL Draft Josh Dawick answered back to even the score 1-1. Down 2-1, Rock defender Brandon Slade knocked down a pass in the defensive zone and pushed the ball up the floor to score and deliver himself a nice little birthday present. Colorado went on a three-goal run to end the first quarter with a 5-2 lead.
The second quarter saw the two teams continue to trade goals back and forth until the Rock scored back-to-back goals for the first time in the game when Stephen Keogh and Tom Schreiber scored to draw the Rock within two, down 8-6. The Mammoth added a goal in the final minute of the quarter to lead 9-6 at the half.
Coming out of halftime, Colorado struck first to go up 10-6. The Rock followed that with two goals in less than a minute to make it a two-goal game at 10-8, Adam Jay and Dawick’s third went up on the board. The Mammoth quickly put an end the Rock’s run with two goals of their own, including one shorthanded to give the visitors a 12-8 advantage. With under a minute to go in the frame, Dawick scored his fourth of the game on a blistering underhand rip and the Rock trailed 12-9 through three quarters.
The fourth quarter was all Rock. Toronto outscored Colorado 7-0 in the final frame. When Dan Craig scored with 3:25 to play, the Rock’s 13-12 lead was their first of the game. Phil Mazzuca’s empty net goal with just five seconds to play was the finishing piece of a terrific comeback win.
Dawick passed his first test at the pro level with flying colours and while he scored four times it was his second goal of the game that was the highlight of the night. Jordan McKenna was transitioning from defence to offence bringing the ball up the floor and hit a streaking Dawick off the bench with a perfect pass, Dawick fired a beautiful behind-the-back shot beating Dillon Ward in magnificent fashion.
“I was just trying to come off the screens fast and a couple ended up dropping for me,” said Dawick. “I was just trying to play my role out there and get some good shots on net.”
Nick Rose played the first half in net allowing nine goals in 30 minutes while Troy Holowchuk played the second half and surrendered just three goals and got the win.
For Colorado, Dillon Ward played the first giving up just five goals, Tyler Carlson took over at halftime and allowed 11 goals against.
Newcomer Stephen Keogh, signed as an unrestricted free agent in the off season, scored three goals in his first outing with his new Rock teammates.
“We were moving the ball, moving our feet and taking open looks and they were falling for us, it was fun,” said Keogh.
The Rock will practice Tuesday night at the TRAC and then host the Saskatchewan Rush next Saturday night at 7pm also at the TRAC.
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