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The Mailman Delivers OT Win

Mark Matthews Caps Off Rock Comeback Win Over Halifax

Hamilton, ON – It’s not always about how you start, but it’s certainly about how you finish.  The Toronto Rock (12-3) never led until the final buzzer as they came back to beat the Halifax Thunderbirds (8-7) by a score of 9-8 in overtime on Saturday night at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton.

“It wasn’t pretty at times, but we stuck to it, and our defense and Rosey did what they do week in and week out, and gave us a chance to win,” said Mark Matthews who scored the game winning goal in overtime.

It was a great end to the night overall as both Saskatchewan and Rochester lost their games Saturday, meaning the Rock win locked in home floor for their opening round NLL Quarterfinals game on the weekend of April 26-28.

There weren’t many positives to focus on for the Rock through the opening fifteen minutes.  Toronto found themselves in a 4-0 hole and early on had all kinds of trouble generating any shots on goal.

The Rock did their best to reel in the game in the second quarter, going on a three-goal run of their own.  Late in the frame, Halifax’s Cody Jamieson scored on a power play to put the Thunderbirds up 5-3 at halftime.

Halifax stretched their run to three with the first two of the third quarter, taking what appeared to be a possible stranglehold on the game, leading 7-3 with just under seven minutes to play in the stanza.  Tom Schreiber scored in the final minute of the quarter to breathe some life into the Rock’s chances of a comeback.  Toronto trailed 7-4 heading to the fourth.

The script completely flipped in the fourth quarter.  Mitch de Snoo went rumbling down the floor and ripped a shot on the run past Thunderbirds’ goalie Warren Hill.  Just 34 seconds later Dan Craig circled the cage and delivered an unlikely dunk past Hill to make it a one-goal game.  Just 1:16 after the incredible Craig tally, Halifax’s Ryan Benesch scored his third goal of the game to put the pressure right back on the Rock with over 10 minutes to play.

It wasn’t until there was less than two minutes to play that we saw another goal.  Justin Martin took off like he was shot out of cannon after the Rock gained possession in their own end and fired an exceptional pass to a streaking Dan Lintner off the bench and Lintner would once again make it a one-goal game.  With less than a minute to go, Schreiber got his own rebound and then threw a handful of fakes on the crease before throwing a cross-handed shovel shot into the Halifax net to tie the game and force overtime.

Each team had their chances to score in the sudden victory overtime period, but it was a quick change of possession that had Matthews go from last off the floor to first up the floor after a possession swung in the Rock’s favour and the Mailman made no mistake, burying the extra time winner.

The Rock were just 1-for-7 on the power play while the Thunderbirds went 2-for-6.

Nick Rose made 37 saves to earn the win, the 106th of his career passing Bob Watson for third on the NLL’s all-time goalie wins list.

Next weekend, the Rock will have a bye week before beginning the final stretch drive of the regular season.  On Saturday, April 6, the Rock will travel to Albany to face the FireWolves for the first and only time this season.

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