Toronto, ON – The Toronto Rock began their battle with the Rochester Knighthawks in a home-and-home series this weekend, after a severe winter storm in Philadelphia snowed out last week’s game. The unexpected time off had the Rock hungry to hit their home turf, especially with the return of Captain Jim Veltman and Assistant Captain Glenn Clark, both rebounding from injury. The Knighthawks have several players and two coaches that were members of the Toronto Rock in previous years, and the match certainly proved to hit home, as bragging rights and home field advantage were on the line.
With Toronto’s first two shots going off the post, the Air Canada Centre’s 16,087 fans thought they might be in for a long and defensive haul. The first goal of the game came halfway through the first quarter as Aaron Wilson put the Rock on the board. The Hawks answered back shortly after with four goals, two coming from ex-Rock players. As the first quarter wound down, Toronto capitalized on an elbowing penalty that sent Rochester’s John Grant to the penalty box. Blaine Manning added to the Rock’s lone goal with an impressive over-the-shoulder shot while on his knees. At the end of the first quarter, the Hawks led by a score of 4-2.
The second quarter began with a stellar save by Bob Watson, as a lone Rochester player went in all alone, but was denied by the Whipper. Penalties began to soar as John Rosa was sent to the box for five minutes for a dangerous high stick. The Hawks took advantage of the major penalty as they put two away within that time frame. Rochester continued to steal the glory as two more balls found the back of the net, adding to their four goal lead. With a dreary 6-2 Rochester lead, Toronto managed to net their only goal of the quarter, when Josh Sanderson scored on a power play with five minutes remaining. At the end of the half, Rochester led 9-3.
The Rock were in serious need of a pep talk at half time and looked to turn the tables around coming into the second. With their supporting fans bewildered, all in attendance could only wait to see how the second half might pan out. Almost immediately, the Hawks’ John Grant was sent to the box for his third time in the game, but Toronto was unable to rally for a power play goal. Rochester added two and led the Rock by a convincing 8 goals with ten minutes to play in the third. Both teams held their own for a strong five minutes, adding to the overwhelming animosity when no goals were registered by either side. With 4:29 to play, the Rock had its third power play of the quarter but could not take advantage of the man-up situation. With 45 seconds left to play in the quarter and Toronto yet to score a goal, Glenn Clark was given a four minute penalty for checking from behind, leaving the team shorthanded going into the fourth. The Rock would need a revival in the last quarter to pull within Rochester’s 11-3 lead.
Tempers flared in the last quarter as pushes and shoves turned into roughing penalties for both teams. Clark exploded out of the penalty box after a long four minutes and with Rochester’s defence concerned with his whereabouts, Brian Beisel scored Toronto’s first goal of the half with a leading pass from John Rosa. The Rock began to see life with a quick passing play by Nick Trudeau and Colin Doyle, finishing with a Josh Sanderson goal. However, Rochester always seemed to answer back, and at one point comfortable held the lead by a 10-goal margin. The penalties continued well into the fourth quarter as the Rock’s Chris Driscoll and the Hawks’ John Grant were reprimanded and left the game after fighting, followed by Dan Ladouceur and Scott Evans respectively. Toronto ended the game on a high with a goal from Blaine Manning, finishing the first of two weekend games with a 15-6 Rochester win.
The Knighthawks have a regular season record of 8-0 against the Rock at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. Game two of the home-and-home series takes place tomorrow night in Rochester. Fans can listen to the game live on AM 640 or watch the Rock on the Score as they try to corrupt this streak tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m.