Toronto – The Toronto Rock had one goal at the start of the season – send goaltender Bob Watson off into the sunset with a championship. Toronto’s 8-7 win on Sunday afternoon in front of 14,488 fans meant it was mission accomplished.
Glen Bryan got the Air Canada Centre crowd going early as the rookie from Orangeville, Ontario flew down the floor on a breakaway and scored to give the Rock a 1-0 edge.
Washington responded with a goal, but the Rock were able to pound two more home before the end of the quarter. Kasey Beirnes did the damage with a pair, including one of the powerplay, as the Rock held a 3-1 lead after one.
The Rock run continued as they scored their fourth, fifth and sixth straight goals to open the second quarter. Garrett Billings, Rob Hellyer and Blaine Manning scored for the Rock and increased the lead to 6-1.
Washington’s Lewis Ratcliff finally got Washington back on the board after being held scoreless for 22:38. Billings scored his second of the game to quickly get the Stealth strike back. The Rock held a 7-2 lead at the half; with Bob Watson making 21 saves on 23 shots.
The third quarter saw the Rock held scoreless while Rhys Duch and Ratcliff each tallied for the Stealth and shaved the Rock lead to three goals as Washington trailed 7-4 at the end of three quarters.
Washington scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter to shave the gap to 7-6. Stephan Leblanc scored his first and most important goal of the game just under 7 minutes into the fourth quarter. Paul Rabil scored just seconds later to again make it a one-goal game 8-7.
That setup a nail biting final 7 and a half minutes of play. Bob Watson stood tall in the Rock goal, and the storybook ending was complete as the Rock held on to win their sixth NLL Champion’s Cup in franchise history.
Watson’s brilliant 48-save performance earned him the Championship Game MVP for the second time in his NLL career.
Toronto’s sixth title now equals the all-time mark for Championship Game success that was set by Philadelphia as they’ve won 6 titles as well.
More coverage to come on torontorock.com and also keep an eye on the Champion’s Cup and it’s whereabouts on Monday.