Barrie – The Toronto Rock played their final pre-season tune-up against the Rochester Knighthawks in front of a raucous crowd at the Barrie Molson Centre on Friday night. The Rock fell to the Knighthawks by a final score of 14-13 in a very entertaining game highlighted by a stirring Rock comeback late in the fourth quarter.
The Rock jumped out to an early 5-2 lead in the first quarter led by veteran defender Chris Driscoll, who potted two goals to lead a balanced Rock attack, while goalie Bob Watson held the Knighthawks at bay.
The Knighthawks stormed back in the second quarter led by John Grant who buried three quick goals in the latter part of the frame to stake the Knighthawks to a 9-6 half-time advantage. Grant, the NLL’s scoring leader in each of the past three seasons put the Rock on their heels for the majority of the second quarter and spear-headed the Knighthawks’ first half comeback. Rock forward Aaron Wilson countered with three first half goals of his own to keep Toronto within striking distance entering the second half.
Rochester extended its lead to 11-7 in the third quarter with two goals by Knighthawks sniper Shawn Evans, while the Rock was unable to mount much of an attack thanks to the Knighthawks stifling defence and timely penalty killing.
In the fourth quarter, the Rock mounted an exciting comeback with five straight goals, highlighted by four goals in a span of fifty three seconds, trimming the Rochester lead to just a goal with 1:20 remaining in the game. Knighthawks forward Scott Evans, finished with four goals and halted the Rock comeback with a power-play goal with only 1:04 remaining. The Rock pulled goalie Mike Poulin to try and score the equalizer, but Rochester held off the Rock attack for the win.
Wilson led the Toronto attack, finishing the game with four goals and two assists. Splitting the game with Bob Watson, Mike Poulin slowed the Rochester offence and recorded one assist. Shawn Evans led the Knighthawks with 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists).
Toronto finishes their exhibition schedule with a 1-1 record, and open the regular season on the road next weekend when they head to Chicago to face the Shamrox on January 5th at 8:00 p.m. EST. The Rock opens the home portion of their schedule with a home and home series vs. the Minnesota Swarm on January 11th at the Air Canada Centre.