Toronto – The Toronto Rock (10-3) got some regular season revenge against the Washington Stealth (6-7) on Friday night at Air Canada Centre with a thrilling 13-12 OT win.
Washington was the team that beat Toronto in last year’s NLL Champion’s Cup Final and this year’s meeting had no lack of playoff intensity from the outset.
The powerplay hasn’t been a strong point this season for the Rock, however, the first quarter saw the Rock connect on each of their two powerplay opportunities. A pair of 5-on-5 goals and some solid netminding from Bob Watson and the home side built themselves a 4-1 lead through 15 minutes.
Colin Doyle picked up an assist on Rob Hellyer’s goal that opened the scoring. That helper was the 1,100th point of Doyle’s brilliant NLL career.
Toronto struck for another powerplay goal early in the second quarter to stretch their lead to four goals. Washington answered with a goal on a delayed penalty call and then a shorthanded strike followed by a powerplay goal to close the gap to one at 5-4.
A wild third quarter saw several lead changes as the Stealth took their first lead of the game 8-7. The Rock quickly tied the game and then took the lead on an outside shot by Stephan Leblanc that beat Tyler Richards in the Washington goal. A second powerplay goal of the game from Garrett Billings put Toronto up 10-8 after 3 quarters.
Washington scored three straight in the fourth quarter to take the lead 11-10 with just over 5 minutes to play.
The extra man offence for the Rock continued to come through when needed as Beirnes scored his third goal of the game, second on the powerplay, to tie the game 11-11 with 3:57 remaining in the quarter.
The Rock turned the ball over in transition and on the next possession former Rock Lewis Ratcliff scored to give Washington another lead 12-11. Stephan Leblanc came right back and scored with just 1:12 to go in order to force overtime.
A lengthy overtime produced great scoring chances at both ends of the floor as Washington and Toronto each had a number of opportunities to end the game.
In the end, it was Leblanc with his third tally of the game, which sent the 11,424 Rock fans home happy with Toronto prevailing 13-12 in OT.
Doyle and Billings each finished the night with 7 points on the strength of 2 goals and 5 assists each to lead the Rock offensively. Ratcliff finished with 6 points (3G, 3A) to lead Washington.
Tomorrow night, the Rock are on the road to face the Philadelphia Wings at Wells Fargo Center. The game can be seen live on the NLL Network at 7:00pm.