TORONTO – Having captured their sixth consecutive victory, the Toronto Rock find themselves back in familiar territory: first place in the NLL East division.
With the score knotted at six, the Rock scored four straight goals – including two by Aaron Wilson – in the decisive third quarter on Friday night en route to a 13-8 win in front of 15,830 boisterous fans at the Air Canada Centre. With the win, the Rock (6-4) now find themselves tied for first in the competitive East division with Rochester and Buffalo.
Wilson opened the scoring at 4:38 of the first quarter, notching his league-leading 12th power-play goal of the season to give the Rock the early 1-0 advantage. Minnesota controlled much of the opening frame though, keeping Rock netminder Bob Watson very busy in the early going. Fresh off earning NLL defensive player of the week honours, Watson was up to the task and held Minnesota scoreless through the first 13 minutes until Minnesota’s Brock Boyle scored a breakaway short-handed marker 13:02 into the contest to even the score at one.
Despite several big saves in the opening quarter, the highlight of the frame for Watson didn’t come from between the pipes. With Swarm captain Ryan Cousins chasing down a long breakaway pass, the veteran Rock netminder came thirty feet out of the net to meet Cousins and promptly put the Swarm defenceman on his back, saving a goal and earning a standing ovation from the Rock faithful. Unfortunately for Watson, the Rock were called for too many men on the floor at the same time and Minnesota scored on the ensuing power-play to take a 2-1 lead after the opening quarter.
The Rock offense came out firing on all cylinders in the second, outscoring the Swarm 4-0 in the first 9:36 of the quarter. Wilson’s second score of the game opened up a 5-2 Rock lead before Kelly Hall and Ryan Ward responded for Minnesota to pull the visitors within one. But with four seconds remaining in the half, Josh Sanderson scored his third goal of the quarter, sending the Rock to the dressing room with a 6-4 advantage.
After Minnesota scored the first two goals of the third quarter, Toronto went on a scoring spree, notching four straight to take a commanding 10-6 lead. The Rock put it in cruise control after that, outscoring Minnesota 3-2 in the final frame to secure the win.
Watson finished the day with 44 saves on 52 total shots for the Rock to earn defensive player of the game honours. Minnesota’s Nick Patterson, meanwhile, allowed 12 goals on 47 shots.
Wilson continued his scoring barrage of late, recording four more goals in the Rock win. Sanderson and Colin Doyle also posted hat-tricks, while Patrick Merrill, Rusty Kruger and newcomer Steve Evans also scored for Toronto, who went 3-for-6 on the power-play on the evening.
Hall paced the Swarm attack with four goals on the night, while Ward (1G, 4A) picked up a team-high five points.
Up Next: The Rock (6-4) will look to make it seven straight wins tomorrow night, as they travel to Philadelphia for a 8:00 p.m. Eastern start against the Wings (4-4) at the Wachovia Centre. The game can be heard live on The Fan 590 or be seen live on B2 Networks – www.b2networks.com. The next Rock home game is on Saturday, March 25 when Toronto will host the Calgary Roughnecks in a 2:00 p.m. Eastern start at the Air Canada Centre.
Notes: Toronto improved its record to 3-0 all-time versus Minnesota … Rock defenseman Dan Ladouceur sat out Friday’s contest due to an ankle injury that he sustained during Toronto’s 12-11 overtime win against Philadelphia last weekend … Steve Evans saw his first action as a member of the Rock since signing as a free agent on Feb. 24 and collected a goal and an assist in the contest … Toronto Argonauts Cornerback Adrion Smith was on hand to administer the opening face-off as part of the Stop The Violence Campaign.
National Lacrosse League
ROCK 13, SWARM 8
(at Air Canada Centre)
1. Toronto Wilson (J. Sanderson, Doyle) 4:38 pp
2. Minnesota Boyle (Kemp)13:02 sh
3. Minnesota Hall (Ward) 14:51 pp
PenaltiesMinnesota Beirnes (tripping) 4:16; Toronto Marshall (holding)
7:41; Toronto O’Brien (checking from behind) 9:58; Minnesota Pacey (checking from behind) 11:24; Toronto Evans (too many men) 14:21.
4. Toronto J. Sanderson (Wilson, Kruger) 2:17
5. Toronto Doyle (J. Sanderson, Wilson) 9:04
6. Toronto J. Sanderson (Kruger, Merrill) 9:28
7. Toronto Wilson (Doyle, J. Sanderson) 9:36
8. Minnesota Hall (Ward, Pollock) 12:52 pp
9. Minnesota Ward (Beirnes, Boyle) 13:46
10. Toronto , J. Sanderson (Manning, Doyle) 14:56 pp
PenaltiesToronto Evans (roughing) 11:20; Minnesota Pacey (holding) 14:26
11. Minnesota Hall (Beirnes) 2:25
12. Minnesota Pollock (Culp, Ward) 5:51
13. Toronto Wilson (Manning, Veltman) 7:17
14. Toronto Kruger (Evans, MacDonald) 8:47
15. Toront, Doyle (Manning, Beisel) 10:04
16. Toronto Wilson (J. Sanderson, Doyle) 13:36 pp
PenaltiesToronto Kruger (roughing) 6:21; Minnesota Kemp (roughing) 6:21; Minnesota Cousins (checking from behind) 12:58; Minnesota, Kemp (interference) 13:29
17. Toronto Doyle (Kruger, Merrill) 4:07
18. Minnesota Hall (Beirnes, Ward) 7:22 pp
19. Minnesota Kemp (Talbot) 7:39
20. Toronto Merrill (en) (Driscoll, Veltman) 13:08
21. Toronto Evans (Kruger, Wilson) 14:00
Penalties Toronto O’Brien (unsportsmanlike conduct) 4:07; Toronto J. Sanderson (illegal crosscheck) 7:09; Toronto Rubel (roughing) 8:07; Minnesota Culp (roughing) 8:07; Minnesota Pollock (bench minor/too many men) 9:06
1 2 3 4 OT T
Minnesota 18 13 11 10 0 52
Toronto 11 20 11 6 0 48
1 2 3 4 OT T
Minnesota 2 2 2 2 0 8
Toronto 1 5 4 3 0 13
Goalies: Minnesota – Patterson (L, 39 saves on 52 shots); Toronto – Watson (W, 40 saves on 48 shots)
Powerplays: Minnesota 3-6; Toronto 3-6.
Player of the Game: Aaron Wilson; Defensive player: Bob Watson
Referees: Tom Sutton, Bill Fox, Mark Gardonio