John Nevins, Chicago – On Saturday night the Toronto Rock opened their tenth NLL season and began their 2008 quest for the Champions Cup on the road against the Chicago Shamrox. The Rock got their season off to a solid start with an 11-9 victory, paced by a dominant power play, solid goaltending and a smothering defense.
The Rock rolled into Chicago with a renewed sense of confidence and an unrelenting defensive swagger. Following Captain Jim Veltman, the Rock rode the offensive prowess of Blaine Manning and the fierce defensive play of newcomer Cam Woods, making a strong statement about what Rock fans should expect in the coming season.
The scoring started less than a minute into the game on the first goal of the Rock season by Manning, but then settled into a solid defensive affair. The teams traded goals by players that were part of an off-season blockbuster trade; Chicago’s Kevin Fines and Toronto’s Cam Woods. Rock goaltender Bob Watson and Shamrox goaltender Brandon Miller were both solid making several strong saves to take away great scoring opportunities. Before the end of the quarter, the Shamrox used a power play and a quick transition to score back to back goals and entered the break with a 3-2 lead.
To start the second quarter Chicago replaced goaltender Brandon Miller with Derek Collins, but Collins continued the solid goaltending with many key saves. The Rock managed to tie the game up on a power play with a Josh Sanderson goal, before a quick breakaway goal by Chicago’s Mike Hobbins restored the Shamrox lead. Another Chicago penalty resulted in the second goal of the season for Toronto’s Josh Sanderson and then the quarter took a nasty turn when Chicago defender Tom Montour delivered an elbow to the head of Rock newcomer Jon Harasym. The incident drew a major penalty and although Harasym also received a minor penalty, the Rock had a three minute power play to close out the period. Blaine Manning scored his second goal of the game to make the score 5-4 and give the Rock their first lead since his game opening goal.
The third quarter started off very much like the first began, with Manning connecting on another early goal, his third of the night and the Rock’s fourth power play goal of the contest. While defense ruled the first half, the third quarter presented an opportunity for each team’s scorers to shine. There were nine goals scored in the quarter, and the Rock power play continued to click with that early goal from Manning and the first two of Kasey Beirnes’ Toronto Rock career. However, Chicago ended up with five different goal scorers in the quarter and as a result, the Rock found themselves down 9-8 heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Rock clamping down with their already stingy defense, lead by Bob Watson who shut out the Shamrox in the final frame. The Rock were able to tie the game on an even strength goal by Aaron Wilson and then took control with two quick goals by Blaine Manning, his fourth, and Kasey Beirnes, his third. That outburst gave the Rock an 11-9 lead, which they would not relinquish.
The Rock were led offensively by Blaine Manning (4 goals) and Kasey Beirnes (3 goals), who were featured members of a power play unit that ended up scoring seven goals. Defensively the team was led by the ferocious physical play of Cam Woods and the stellar goaltending of Bob Watson.
The Rock (1-0) will next hit the floor in an important divisional home and home series with the Minnesota Swarm next weekend, starting with the Rock home opener at the Air Canada Centre on Friday January 11, 2008 at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, please contact:
Manager of Public Relations & Events
Toronto Rock Lacrosse Club
Office: 416-596-3075, ext. 226