Toronto – The Toronto Rock opened this weekend’s back to back series tonight and were looking to keep their winning streak alive against the Rochester Knighthawks and move up in the standings. Despite a very solid defensive effort throughout the game, penalties would allow Rochester to break the game open in the third resulting in a 9-6 loss ending the Rock’s winning streak at two games.
Rochester opened the scoring at the 26 second mark, but that would be their only lead of the half. The score would be equalized on a power play by newbie Lewis Ratcliff quickly after knotting the game up. With the score tied, the Toronto defense would go into lockdown mode making some big stops from in close also killing two penalties in the process. Aaron Wilson would capitalize on a power play late in the quarter putting one into the net on a beautiful point shot to give the home team the lead. But the Knighthawks would answer back 16 seconds later on a shorthanded goal to close out the first quarter tied two apiece.
The second would show much the same from Toronto – hardnosed defense. The Rock, anchored by Bob Watson between the pipes would stifle the Knighthawks and open the scoring early on a power play put through by Blaine Manning at the 49 second mark. The Knighthawks would eventually score midway through the second on a breakaway, but the tie would be short lived as Ratcliff scored his second goal of the game to up the Toronto lead again to one. The Rock defense held strong through the quarter before the Knighthawks scored with under two minutes left to even out the score at 4-4 leading into halftime.
Penalties would be the story of the third. The third quarter began with both teams having players in the penalty box – Rochester with one, Toronto with two. The man advantage would lead to a very early goal in the quarter putting the Knighthawks in the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game, 5-4. A power play for Rochester resulted in another goal and the two goal lead would still be held by the Hawks until a five minute major was assessed to Stephan Hoar yielding a Rock goal and cutting the lead down to onel. But another Rock power play would allow Rochester to score with six seconds left the quarter and a two goal lead heading into the fourth.
The Knighthawks added to their lead early in the quarter to put the Rock down by three goals to begin the fourth quarter. The Rock would score again but would be unable to close the gap late in the quarter. Despite a great effort in front of the 15,422 hometown fans, the game would end with Rochester on top, 9-6.
The Rock offense was led by the newly acquired Lewis Ratcliff who had a hat trick and two assists for a total of five points. Blaine Manning followed with four points on two goals and two assists. Despite the loss, Bob Watson played magnificently on the night stopping many point blank and power play shots to total 38 saves.
Rochester was led by Scott Evans who tallied four goals and an assist. Pat O’Toole would garner the win.
The Rock travel to Philadelphia tomorrow for a makeup game and face the division leading Wings at 8:05 p.m. EST at the Wachovia Center.
The next Rock home game takes place on April 12th at the Air Canada Centre when they host the Chicago Shamrox at 7:00 p.m. EST.