With Toronto in the midst of a tight play off hunt, they were looking to start the weekend with a win in the first of the team’s back to back games. The Swarm, who the Rock had beaten earlier in the season convincingly, sat atop Toronto in the Eastern Division standings by half a game. A win would bring Toronto one game closer to the post season and put them ahead of Minnesota in the standings, but the Swarm had other ideas. Minnesota would have a big third quarter and two timely goals late in the fourth putting a damper on “Whipper” Watson’s birthday to beat the Toronto 13-11.
The Rock started the game strong in the first half. They looked to be in total control as they used their great interior passing to set up great scoring chances with Josh Sanderson and Kevin Fines scoring two goals each. They would outshoot the Swarm in the first two quarters 31-25, coupled with great defense that yielded only two power play goals in four opportunities resulting in a 7-6 lead for Toronto. Despite the score, the Toronto defense was equally great, killing two of the five Minnesota power plays and playing solidly for the first thirty minutes.
The turning point in the game came in the third. The Swarm came out fired up and looked more intense than in the previous two periods. They took the ball right at the Rock defense and managed to outscore Toronto four goals to one for the quarter despite the great play Bob Watson and some leveling hits by the Rock defensive line. The Rock were out shot by the Swarm 13-9 in the third, ending the quarter down 10-8.
The fourth quarter was where the excitement would begin. With both teams needing this win to help solidify a play off spot, the game became a grind. Both teams were not giving up anything easy playing very physical defense, making contact with everybody coming close to their respective nets. With the Swarm looking to put away the home team, the Rock looking to make a comeback, scored three goals in the period. Two came from Aaron Wilson, tying the game up 11-11 going into the final two minutes. Watson made some tough saves down the stretch, some from point blank, but the Swarm’s Chad Culp would score the go ahead goal at the 13:26 mark to put Minnesota up 12-11. They would add another goal in the last few seconds of the quarter which ended Toronto’s comeback hopes. The game would end in the heart breaking score 13-11.
Toronto’s Josh Sanderson, who seemingly put the team on his back tonight, led all players with seven points on three goals and four assists. Captain Jim Veltman, Blaine Manning and Aaron Wilson all would register three points tonight; Veltman and Manning both on one goal and two assists each and Wilson on a hat trick.
Minnesota was lead in points by Eric Pacey who had five on one goal and three assists. Three Swarm players would register three points each: both Brock Boyle and Chad Culp with three helpers and a goal each and Sean Pollock with three goals and an assist.
Despite registering the loss tonight, back to back NLL Defender of the Week Bob Watson was still great between the pipes recording 36 saves for the game with eight in the final period which kept the Rock in it until very late.
Minnesota’s Nick Patterson recorded the win stopping 39 Rock shots.
The Rock (6-8) now head into the Windy City looking to keep the playoffs within their grasp. Toronto sits fourth place in the Eastern Division, ahead of Philadelphia for the last play off spot. The Rock face off against the Chicago Shamrox tomorrow night, Saturday April 7th at 8:30 p.m. EST.