ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The curse continues for the Toronto Rock in the uncomfortable confines of the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. The Rock dropped its 10th straight regular season decision on the road to Rochester on Saturday, this time losing 10-7 to the Knighthawks, despite a gutsy comeback effort.
Josh Sanderson had three goals and three assists for the Rock while Mike Accursi led the Knighthawks with four goals and two assists. Peterborough’s John Grant added two goals and three helpers for Rochester.
With the loss, Toronto finishes at 8-8 in a tie in the NLL East Division with Philadelphia and Minnesota. By virtue of the division tiebreaker, the Rock finished in third place and will return to Rochester in the first round of the National Lacrosse League playoffs on Saturday April 22 at 7:30 p.m. in a building where they have only won once in franchise history. Rochester secured second place with the win over Toronto, while the Minnesota Swarm – dropping a 13-8 decision to Portland at the XCEL Energy Center – finishes in fourth and will travel to play the Buffalo Bandits next Sunday (time TBA).
Penalties killed the Rock early, with four consecutive first-quarter penalties in the opening five minutes. They managed to escape with a 2-2 tie at the end of the opening quarter but were put in a position to battle from behind. Grant opened the scoring on a penalty shot, faking out Rock keeper Bob Watson who was steady on the night make 52 saves.
The teams traded goals in the second quarter, before Rochester tallied three unanswered to take a 6-3 lead early in third quarter.
But as they are accustomed to doing this year, the Rock battled back and would not quit. The Rock tied the score at 7-7 with back-to-back goals from Josh Sanderson early in the fourth quarter. But two of Mike Accursi’s four goals late in the fourth quarter and a Steve Toll empty-netter sealed the victory for Rochester.
With the win, the Knighthawks advance to the post-season for the 17th consecutive season and eliminated the Philadelphia Wings from the post-season for the third consecutive season.
Meanwhile, Toronto can only host a home playoff game in the second round and this can only happen if they defeat Rochester and Minnesota upsets Buffalo.
Sanderson wins the scoring title
Finishing with a strong six-point performance, Josh Sanderson won the NLL points title with a three goal, three assist performance in the final regular season game last night. Sanderson had 98 points on the season. He’s the second consecutive player to win the scoring title, succeeding teammate Colin Doyle who finished third in the points race this year.
KNIGHTHAWKS 10, ROCK 7
1. Rochester Grant (penalty shot) 4:48
2. Rochester Grant 2 (Accursi, Williams) 5:59 pp
3. Toronto Manning (J. Sanderson, Doyle) 6:59
4. Toronto J. Sanderson (Wilson, Veltman) 12:41 (pp)
Penalties – Toronto Ladouceur (illegal equipment) 0:35; Toronto Campbell (cross checking); Toronto Driscoll (holding) 4:48; Toronto Veltman (unsportsmanlike conduct – penalty shot) 4:48; Rochester Greer (checking from behind) 8:12; Toronto Veltman (checking in crease) 9:27; Rochester bench (too many men served by Chapman) 11:46; Rochester Evans (slashing)11:46.
5. Rochester Williams (Scott Evans, Dutton) 7:52
6. Toronto Wilson (Doyle, Manning) 9:22
7. Rochester Accursi (Grant) 11:43
8. Rochester Accursi 2 (Scott Evans, Grant) 12:35
Penalties – Toronto Driscoll (slashing) 0:34; Rochester Grant (slashing) 0:34.
9. Rochester Scott Evans (Millin) 2:59
10. Toronto Doyle (Veltman, J.Sanderson) 6:04 pp
11. Rochester Williams (Grant, Accursi) 11:59 pp
Penalties – Rochester Hoar (holding) 5:15; Toronto Ladouceur (checking from behind) 8:55; Toronto Rubel (roughing) 11:32.
12. Toronto Doyle 2 (Veltman, J. Sanderson) 0:42 pp
13. Toronto J. Sanderson 2 (Shearer) 3:43 sh
14. Toronto J. Sanderson 3 (Manning, P. Sanderson) 5:44
15. Rochester Accursi 3 (unassisted) 9:19
16. Rochester Accursi 4 (Shawn Evans, Grant) 11:27
17. Rochester Toll (O’Toole) 14:01 en
Penalties – Toronto P. Sanderson (hooking) 2:53.
Shots on Goal By -Toronto 45, Rochester 62
Goalies – Toronto: Watson (L, 52 saves on 61 shots); Rochester: O’Toole (W, 38 saves on 45 shots)
Powerplays -Toronto: 3/7; Rochester 2/7.
Referees – Tom Sutton, Grant Spies, Scott Malloy