Despite a packed Air Canada Centre with 16,882 screaming fans in the stands for their home opener, the Toronto Rock lost their rubber match to the Rochester Knighthawks 19 to 15.
Looking sluggish in their season opener lose to Rochester a week ago, the Rock came out the gate fast with lots of energy on Saturday night.
The two teams exchanged goals through the early part of the first quarter with the Rock playing impressive lacrosse. Despite the Knighthawks leaving the first quarter in front 4 – 2, the Rock showed life on both ends of the floor.
Two quick goals by Ryan Benesch and Blaine Manning in the second quarter evened out the score at 4 – 4 but the Knighthawks came back with three straight goals to get out in front. Despite the barrage, the Rock outscored the opponents 5-4 to end the quarter down one goal at 8 – 7.
The second half started with the Rock showing a sense of urgency in their play. The pressure was put on the Knighthawks defense when the Rock scored two straight goals early on. The Knighthawks did not let up scoring four of the next five goals. The Rock would attempt a valiant comeback late in the fourth with two goals from Benesch and Chris Driscoll in the final two minutes but the Knighthawks would not be denied the win.
The Toronto defense was much improved over their previous outing anchored by Bob Watson who was spectacular between the pipes stopping 41 shots in the high scoring game. The Knighthawks’ Pat O’Toole recorded the win stopping 44 Toronto shots.
The Rochester attack was led by Scott Evans who had scored five goals and three assists. The Nighthawks scored the majority of their goals when they had the power play advantage throughout the game.
For the Rock, scoring was distributed with seven players recording goals on the night led by the rookie Ryan Benesch’s four. He would finish with five points in his home debut for Toronto after being acquired from the San Jose Stealth in late December. The Toronto point leader for the night was Blaine Manning who tallied three goals and four assists in the loss.
The Rock now fall to 0 – 2 to start the season. Toronto will face the Philadelphia Wings in the City of Brotherly Love on Jan. 27 where they will be looking to get their first win of the season. The game will be televised on Rogers Sportsnet beginning at 7:30pm.