Toronto – With the NLL playoff race heating up in the final few weeks, the Rock played host to the Chicago Shamrox tonight at the ACC. The game would prove to be a high scoring affair and despite a spectacular showing by Mike Poulin in net, replacing Bob Watson who was out with an injury, the Rock lost another heartbreaker in overtime, 13-12.
The Rock would start the high scoring game on a goal by Blaine Manning and following up with two more goals by Derek Suddons and Lewis Ratcliff, both short hopping their way into the net. The lead was short lived however as Chicago would rattle off three quick goals to tie the game at three apiece midway through the first quarter. The Shamrox would score two more goals, one with a six man offense in place, in the final two minutes to close the quarter up, 5-3.
The second quarter began better for the Rock after a great save by goaltender Mike Poulin early in the quarter that led to a breakaway goal by defender Scott Campbell. Chicago scored 20 seconds later but Aaron Wilson would maximize the man advantage on a Shamrox penalty to pull Toronto within one at the 2:49 mark. Ryan Benesch tied the game midway through the second on a highlight reel move that brought the fans to their feet before Chicago added one more late in the second. Benesch scored his second of the night and Toronto’s defense would take over to fend off a couple transition chances for the opposition in the last minute leading into the break with the score tied 7-7.
Toronto would strike first early in the third quarter on a great shot by a diving Blaine Manning that caught the top corner of the net followed a minute later by another from Kasey Beirnes to equal Toronto’s largest lead at two goals. The Shamrox took the lead through the third with three unanswered goals before Jim Veltman would put one in to tie the game up at ten apiece. Chicago scored once more but the Rock defense shut out the Shamrox in the last five minutes of the third to keep the game close with a score of 11-10.
Scoring his second goal of the game to begin the fourth quarter, Derek Suddons scooped up a loose ball for a breakaway goal at the 1:06 mark and Mike Poulin was excellent between the pipes in the fourth quarter stopping some sure goals and helping to anchor the Rock defense keeping them in the game. Toronto would take the lead on a power play goal by Blaine Manning before Chicago would respond one minute later.
The final five minutes would prove to be the most frenzied of regulation as both teams were looking to put the other away and it was the Rock that had the last chance to score in the final ten seconds but a shot by Manning came off the crossbar forcing the game into overtime. Chicago’s Mat Giles would put in the game winner only 1:31 seconds into overtime to close a heartbreaker for the Rock with a final score of 13-12 for the Shamrox.
The Toronto Rock were led by both Blaine Manning (3 goals, 3 assists) and Lewis Ratcliff (1 goal, 5 assists). Ryan Benesch followed with five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and despite large shoes to fill and a great stand between the pipes through the game, Mike Poulin would tally the loss in his first entire game of the season.
The Shamrox were led by Jason Clark who tallied seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) and goaltender Matt Roik would garner the win.
This loss now puts the Rock at an even 7-7 record still within the playoff picture and the team will travel to Calgary next weekend on Saturday March 19th to face the Roughnecks, who are sitting close to the bottom of the West Division.