Toronto, ON – The Toronto Rock are East Division Champions after defeating the 3-time defending NLL champion Rochester Knighthawks 11-8 in Game 2 of their two game series and then winning the Tie Breaker game by a score of 8-2 in domination fashion.
The Rock will host game 1 of the NLL Best-of-3 Championship Series next Saturday night at 7pm at Air Canada Centre against the West Division Champions.
“Nobody lost belief in each other,” said Rock Head Coach John Lovell. “At practice we talked about that a bit on Tuesday night and again this morning at shoot around. I didn’t see anybody nervous. It was a quiet determination.”
Riding the wave of energy from a charged up crowd at Air Canada Centre, the Rock stormed out of the gate and built a 3-0 lead just 3:20 into the first quarter. The two teams exchanged goals before Rochester’s Craig Point drew the Knighthawks to within a pair, trailing 4-2 at the end of one.
Toronto scored four straight goals to lead 8-2 going into the final minute of the half. With just 3 seconds left in the second quarter, Rochester’s Stephen Keogh broke up the Rock run. Brandon Miller was sensational in the Rock goal stopping 19 of 22 shots and pacing the Rock to an 8-3 lead at the break.
The Rock struck first in the second half, but the Knighthawks showed they weren’t going down without a fight. Rochester scored 3 consecutive goals, chipping away at the Toronto lead making it a 9-6 game heading to the final quarter.
Rochester scored their fourth straight to open the fourth quarter, closing the Knighthawks to within a pair at 9-7. Josh Sanderson scored shorthanded moments later to give Toronto back their 3-goal lead and Stephan Leblanc scored to give the Rock a little more breathing room. Keogh scored his sixth of the game to make it 11-8 but it wasn’t enough and the Rock were successful in forcing the 10-minute Tie Breaker game.
Keogh took a penalty at the end of Game 2 with 45 seconds remaining, which meant the Rock would begin the Tie Breaker game on the power play. Sanderson buried a cross-crease pass from Brett Hickey and the Rock were off to the races.
“Hickey gave me a layup on the power play and that always gets you feeling good and got the crowd back into it,” said Sanderson who also scored the second goal of the Tie Breaker game to go up 2-0.
Every shot the Rock took seemed to go in the net from there building a 7-0 lead before Rochester got on the board. They managed to score a couple goals but the Rock and Miller held the Knighthawks offence virtually silent in the deciding 10-minute Tie Breaker game.
Tickets for Game 1 of the NLL Best-of-3 Championship Series will go on sale on Monday morning at 10am. For the BEST ticket in town and more information, please visit torontorock.com or call 416-596-3075.