Photo: Jack Dempsey
Denver, Colorado – The Toronto Rock (9-1) defeated the Colorado Mammoth (4-5) by a score of 17-9 at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Friday night. The win is the Rock’s 6th in a row and their first ever in Colorado after losing both previous games played in the mile high city between the teams.
“I think we made it tough on the guys we needed to be tough on, they have some good scorers,” said Rock Head Coach John Lovell. “We got good goaltending and I think it was one of our better defensive games of the season. Once again our offence gets us big goals when we needed it. The main facets of the game are working for us and we don’t seem to be taking a step back.”
Rock defender Bill Greer scored his first goal of the season to open the scoring. Rob Hellyer ripped an outside shot through the five-hole of Colorado goaltender Dillon Ward to make it 2-0, 7:13 into the first quarter. The Mammoth turned the quarter around with a pair of goals from Adam Jones just 2:02 apart. Sean Pollock made it three straight for Colorado, giving the Mammoth a 3-2 lead after one quarter.
Toronto stormed back with a Stephan Leblanc powerplay marker and a Brodie Merrill shorthanded tally to surge ahead 4-3. A powerplay goal by the Mammoth to tie the game was quickly erased by Leblanc’s second goal of the quarter putting the Rock back in front by a goal. Colorado’s Tyler Codron scored for the first time in 6 years to even the score 5-5. Kasey Beirnes was quick to pounce on a rebound right in front of a fallen Ward in the Colorado net to give Toronto a 6-5 edge. Leblanc’s third of the half kept things going and Kevin Ross added to Toronto’s lead as the visiting Rock were up 8-5 at the break.
Brett Hickey scored his 25th of the season, early in the third quarter to give the Rock their first four-goal lead of the game. Joey Cupido scored a much-needed shorthanded goal for Colorado to narrow the gap to 9-6. Leblanc and Brodie Merrill answered right back giving the Rock an 11-6 lead heading to the final quarter.
Hickey again scored the first goal of the quarter but the Mammoth scored a pair of goals just 17 seconds apart to make it a 12-8 game. The Rock blew the game open with 5 straight goals to ice the game. Colorado scored one late, making the final 17-9.
Hellyer finished the night with 3 goals and 8 assists for his second 11-point game of the season and passed teammate Josh Sanderson in the NLL scoring race. His 71 points are now tops in the NLL.
“He’s a dynamic player, there’s not too many guys in this league that have the speed that he has,” Stephan Leblanc said of his teammate Hellyer. “He’s maturing into the player that we all expected him to be.”
Rock goal scorers were Leblanc (4), Hellyer (3), Hickey (3), Brodie Merrill (2), Beirnes (1), Brock Sorensen (1), Ross (1), Greer (1), Nick Diachenko (1). While Josh Sanderson didn’t score a goal, he still chipped in with 4 assists to boost his league-leading total to 56 in just 10 games.
Nick Rose was brilliant in goal earning his 4th win of the season and first on the road. He made 46 saves in earning the victory.
Toronto’s 3-game road trip will conclude in Buffalo on Friday, March 13th. The Rock’s next home game will be the back half of a home-and-home with Buffalo on Saturday, March 14th. For tickets and more information, please visit torontorock.com or call 416-596-3075.