After a week off from play, the Rock were looking to even out their record as they played host to the expansion Chicago Shamrox in their first trip to Toronto. The Shamrox had played well in the first half of the season posting a 3-3 record. The Rock were looking to build on their two wins against the Bandits and extend their winning streak to three. In front of 15,200 hometown faithful, the Toronto would go on to win 11-10 in an exciting game.
Despite the layoff, Toronto came out of the gates full of energy. The Rock were aggressive on the attack early in the first narrowly missing on several close scoring opportunities. The Chicago defense was solid early and so was their offense. The Shamrox would strike first in the game on a goal by Mat Giles, followed by a goal a few minutes latter from forward Bill McGlone. The Rock were on the board late in the first with an Aaron Wilson goal assisted by Blaine Manning. The Shamrox would convert on another powerplay opportunity in the dying seconds of the first leading the Rock 3-1 to close the quarter.
Starting the second quarter, the Rock scored their second goal 15 seconds in on a shorthanded goal by Kevin Fines quickly followed up by another from rookie Ryan Benesch to tie the game. Those two quick goals seemed to wake up Chicago’s guns and the Shamrox would answer with a goal to take the lead again a few seconds later and then put in another on a five minute powerplay opportunity for a 6-3 lead midway through the quarter. The Rock ended the scoreless drought in the second by scoring their fourth goal on a Josh Sanderson bullet late in the quarter cutting the Shamrox lead in half to four goals. The Rock would look reenergized on the attack towards the end of the half to finish strong finishing the half down 8-4.
The Toronto Rock began the third quarter the same as the second, with an early goal. “Prairie Dog” Manning’s goal cut the deficit to three and Fines would score his second of the game on a spectacular end to end effort that awoke the anxious crowd. That was followed shortly with a goal by “Wild Man” Wilson, which seemed to cause a little controversy for the Shamrox which seemed to just enter the net area. The Rock defense looked settled down and kept the active Chicago scorers silent. The Air Canada Centre would later erupt on the tying goal by the Wild Man on a beautiful pass from Manning in traffic behind two Shamrox defenders. The third was all Toronto with the score tied going into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was filled with multiple scoring chances, but both teams defense were not letting anyone in easily. Bob Watson stopped three point blank Chicago opportunities and Toronto would finally take the lead for the first time in the game on Wilson’s fourth goal. The celebration was short lived as the Shamrox returned the favour by tying the game at nine a piece on Jon Harasym’s first of the game. Fines’ would get his third goal of the game midway through the period putting the Rock on the lead again. The Shamrox, who would not go away quietly, scored again not long after to tie the game at 10. Josh Sanderson would put in the go ahead goal, his second of the game, to put the Toronto up one with under two minutes to play which would prove to be the difference.
The Rock were out shot in the first half 31 to 23 and were hampered by early penalties and turnovers that lead to scoring chances for Chicago. But despite being overpowered in the first half of the game, Toronto bounced back in the second. The Rock came out of the halftime break with a better transition and aggressively going after the Shamrox on defense which led to scoring chances. Blaine Manning’s goal to open the fourth quarter seemed to set the tone as the Rock would begin their relentless offensive attack which would result in the win.
Aaron “Wild Man” Wilson led the Rock with four goals and an assist followed by Kevin Fines with a hat trick. Wilson was also the leading point man for the Rock with five. Phil Sanderson recorded 10 loose balls in the Rock win.
The Shamrox were led by Mat Giles who scored three goals and had two assists followed by Chris Panos and Tom Montour who both had two goals and an assist each.
The Rock (3-3) will look be looking to move up in the standings and extend their winning streak to four games next week in Calgary as they play their second home and home series of the season facing the Roughnecks.