TORONTO – Faced with possible elimination from the NLL postseason for the first time in eight years, veteran Rock forward Colin Doyle took things into his own hands late in the game April 8, lifting Toronto to an improbable 15-14 come-from-behind overtime victory over the Philadelphia Wings in front of a season-best crowd of 18,400 at the Air Canada Centre.
After the two teams exchanged one scoreless possession each in the extra frame, Doyle took a pass from teammate Josh Sanderson with the shotclock winding down and fired it over the shoulder of Wings goaltender Matt Roik to send the ACC crowd into a frenzy and give the Rock the impressive victory.
“I was throwing everything at his stick,” said Doyle, referring to his scoring chances earlier in the contest. “I noticed that he was dropping and I just tried to get it to the top half of the net.”
Doyle’s overtime heroics were simply an extension of his play during the final quarter, where the veteran was involved in all six Rock goals, scoring twice while assisting on four others – two each by Blaine Manning and Aaron Wilson. All six were unanswered, as Toronto came back from a 14-8 deficit to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Rock captain Jim Veltman was quick to credit the leadership provided by Doyle, who was seen giving high fives to several fans on his way to the dressing room. “That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s one of those (pressure) players that says, ‘I’ll take the ball. Give it to me.'”
Philadelphia took control of the action early on, scoring four straight goals – including two by all-star Sean Greenhalgh – before the fans at the ACC could even get comfortable in their seats. Jake Bergey’s goal at 3:25 of the opening frame gave the Wings the 4-0 lead.
Blaine Manning responded for the Rock at the 7:16 mark, notching his 24th goal of the season, but the Wings continued their first quarter domination by outscoring Toronto 3-1 over the remainder of the frame to take a commanding 7-2 lead. Rock goaltender Bob Watson was shaky in net during the first quarter, allowing seven goals on just 13 shots before being pulled in favour of backup Phil Wetherup at the 10:31 mark of the opening stanza.
Toronto began to show its frustration shortly after Greenhalgh put home his third goal of the contest and tempers began to flare with a minute left to play in the first quarter, as Toronto’s Pat Merrill and Philly’s Rob Van Beek dropped the gloves and were assessed five minute fighting majors. Before the skirmish was over, former Rock player Glenn Clark charged into the melee, eventually becoming involved in a tilt with current Rock defenceman Brad MacDonald. For starting a second altercation on the floor after the original fight, Clark and MacDonald was assessed game misconducts.
In what has become a very familiar scenario for the Rock this season, Toronto immediately took over the momentum after the physical play. With the Rock on the power-play to start the second quarter, forward Josh Sanderson notched the 200th regular season goal of his career and was immediately followed by Shearer, who scored his second of the night just 40 seconds into the frame.
Rock leading scorers Aaron Wilson and Colin Doyle then got in on the action, as Wilson recorded his 36th marker of the season and Doyle put home back-to-back markers to bring Toronto even at seven. Including Shearer’s goal to close out the second quarter, Toronto managed six unanswered before Greenhalgh regained the lead for Philadelphia at 7:27 of the quarter. The Wings closed out the scoring in the first half, as Mike Regan gave the visitors a 10-8 lead with a power-play marker with 32 seconds left.
After the two teams combined to score 18 first half goals, the third quarter offered a complete turn of events as both squads were held scoreless for the first 9:35 of the frame before Van Beek found the net to open up a three-goal advantage for the Wings. Jeff Ratcliffe and Greenhalgh notched two more goals for Philadelphia, who managed to hold the Rock scoreless for the entire third quarter.
Ratcliffe opened up the scoring in the final quarter, notching his third goal of the game to open up a 14-8 lead before Toronto began their improbable comeback.
Up Next: The Rock (8-7) are back in action next Saturday, April 15, as they travel to Rochester to close out the 2006 regular season with a 7:30 p.m. start at the Blue Cross Arena. The game can be heard live on The Fan 590 or be seen live on B2 Networks – www.b2networks.com. Tickets may still be available through the Rochester Blue Cross Arena Box Office at (585) 758-5300.
Notes: Rock captain Jim Veltman collected his 209th loose ball on Saturday to break his own single-season record of 207 set in 2003… Toronto’s six second-quarter goals matched a season-high … The Rock failed to score a goal in the third quarter, marking just the third time all season … The Rock welcomed the franchise’s one millionth fan in team history on Saturday night… The Rock trailed by scores of 7-1 and 14-8 during the game.
National Lacrosse League
ROCK 15, WINGS 14
Air Canada Centre
1. Philadelphia Greenhalgh (Marohl, Cromwell) 1:16
2. Philadelphia Self (Morley, Jacobs) 2:03
3. Philadelphia Greenhalgh 2 (Marohl, Ratcliffe) 2:31
4. Philadelphia Bergey (Greenhalgh, Morley) 3:25
5. Toronto Manning (Wilson, J. Sanderson) 7:16
6. Philadelphia Bergey 2 (Jacobs) 7:38
7. Philadelphia Regan (Greenhalgh, Marohl) 9:37 pp
8. Philadelphia Greenhalgh (Marohl) 10:31 pp
9. Toronto Shearer (Doyle) 13:49 pp
Penalties -Philadelphia Regan (holding stick) 4:45, Toronto Ladouceur (holding) 8:22, Toronto Rubel (slashing) 10:10, Philadelphia Spano (bad substitute) 12:01, Philadelphia Clark (roughing, fighting and game misconduct) 13:59, Philadelphia Van Beek (fighting) 13:59, Toronto Merril (fighting) 13:59, Toronto Macdonald (fighting) 13:59, Philadelphia Van Beek (fighting) 13:59
10. Toronto J. Sanderson (Veltman, Manning) 0:15 pp
11. Toronto Shearer 2 (P. Sanderson) 0:40
12. Toronto Wilson (Veltman, J. Sanderson) 2:51 pp
13. Toronto Doyle (Veltman, J. Sanderson) 3:55
14. Toronto Doyle 2 (Manning, J. Sanderson) 7:03
15. Philadelphia Greenhalgh 3 (Hajek, Sweeney) 7:27
16. Philadelphia Ratcliffe (Bergey, Greenhalgh) 8:01
17. Toronto Manning 2 (Wilson, J. Sanderson) 8:36
18. Philadelphia Regan 2 (Marohl, Greenhalgh) 14:28 pp
Penalties -Philadelphia Brzeski (holding) 2:04, Philadelphia Van Beek (tripping) 11:07, Toronto Rubel (holding) 14:06, Philadelphia Greenhalgh (unsportsman) 14:57
19. Philadelphia Van Beek (unassisted) 9:35
20. Philadelphia Ratcliffe (Spano, Roik) 11:26
21. Philadelphia Greenhalgh (Cromwell, Spano) 12:25
PenaltiesPhiladelphia Spano (checking from behind) 3:10, Toronto Ladouceur (holding) 6:16
22. Philadelphia Ratcliffe 2 (Bergey, Self ) .56
23. Toronto Doyle 3 (Wilson, Manning) 3:08 pp
24. Toronto Manning 3 (Veltman, Doyle) 3:50
25. Toronto Manning 4 (Veltman, Doyle) 4:34 pp
26. Toronto Doyle 4 (J. Sanderson, Manning) 13:06
27. Toronto Wilson 2 (Manning, Doyle) 14:03
28. Toronto Wilson 3 (Doyle, Veltman) 14:17
Penalties -Toronto P. Sanderson (holding) 1:49, Philadelphia Regan (illegal crosscheck) 1:49, Philadelphia Greenhalgh (delay game) 2:52, Philadelphia Regan (illegal substitution) 4:26, Toronto Veltman (checking from behind) 7:20, Philadelphia Spano (too many men) 11:10, Toronto Campbell (illegal substitution) 11:50
29. Toronto Doyle 5 (J. Sanderson, Manning) 1:13
1 2 3 4 OT Total
Philadelphia 16 7 9 8 0 40
Toronto 10 18 16 17 1 61
1 2 3 4 OT Total
Philadelphia 7 3 3 1 0 14
Toronto 2 6 0 6 1 15
Goalies -Toronto Watson (21 saves, 33 shots) Wetherup (5 saves, 7 shots) Philadelphia Roik(saves 46, shots 61)
Players of the Game:Offensive: Doyle; Defensive: Veltman
RefereesRoy Condon, Bill Fox, Mark Gardonio