Shawn Palmer, Correspondent Toronto Rock
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Georgia Swarm
On May 6, the Toronto Rock (1-0) travelled to Georgia (0-1) to face the Swarm in the Eastern Semi-Final for a rare Monday night lacrosse game. Playing in front of 8,862 fans at the Infinite Energy Arena the visitors escaped with a win as Toronto pulled away in the second half and held on during a late flurry by the Swarm when they closed to within two before falling 16-14.
The Swarm started off fast when Lyle Thompson (3G, 4A) fired a side arm low shot from the top and beat Nick Rose (35 saves) to the glove side just 21 seconds into the game. Two minutes later Georgia struck again; L. Thompson and Randy Staats (3G, 3A) completed a give and go and Staats threw a high fake on Rose and shot between his legs to give the Swarm a two goal lead. The Rock made it on the board and rattled off a four goal run starting off with Rob Hellyer (2G, 4A) passing to Adam Jones (3G, 6A) who beat Mike Poulin (33 saves) off the post to the far side cutting the Swarm lead to one, this was Poulin’s first game in the last three weeks since suffering a lower body injury. Toronto would tie it up a few minutes later. Tom Schreiber (4G, 2A) let a low to high laser go from the restraining line which beat Poulin. Just over half way through the first quarter the Rock would take their first lead of the game. Johnny Powless (1G) received a pass from Kieran McArdle (2G, 3A), caught it one handed and proceeded to shoot with the one hand to score down low. A minute later and Toronto would double their lead off Dan Craig (2G, 4A) and a shot from the outside to beat the shot clock with a bounce shot up high to make it 4–2. Zed Williams (1G) would get that one back for Georgia jumping over the crease, and putting a shot under Rose’s arm and into the net. The Rock would challenge the goal as it looked like Williams might have been in the crease before the ball passed the goal line but the goal counted and it was 4-3 for the Rock. Georgia scored on a transition breakaway by Staats off a pass from Adam Wiedemann (1A) to beat Rose glove side to tie the game at fours. On the ensuing faceoff Brendan Bomberry (1G) got the pass from Leo Stouros (1A) to put him in all alone to beat Rose glove side once more giving the Swarm the lead back at 5-4 at the end of the first quarter.
Toronto would open up the scoring in the second quarter with a five goal run. Hellyer started it off jumping across the crease to put a bounce shot through Poulin’s legs. And another challenge, this time by the Swarm. Georgia would challenge the goal, but after a five minute review it was determined that video evidence was inconclusive so the goal stood and the game was tied at five apiece. Less than a minute later Brock Sorensen (1G, 1A) received a transition pass from Craig, beat his defender and dove across the crease to beat Poulin with a shot to the far side reinstating the Rock lead to 6 – 5. The run continued for the Rock as Craig took a bounce shot from the top stick side; a minute later while on the power-play the Toronto moved the ball around at the top and Jones fired a shot over Poulin’s shoulder to give Toronto an 8–5 lead; and the final goal of the scoring run came off Schreiber as he received a pass from Jones while cutting through the middle of the floor and fired a low shot bottom corner giving the Rock a four goal lead halfway through the second. Miles Thompson (1G, 1A) stopped the Toronto run with a goal off a pass from Shayne Jackson (2G, 6A) from behind the net and Thompson was able to beat Rose with a low shot on the power-play to cut the lead to 9–6. McArdle fired back to restore the four goal lead with a shot from the outside that squeezed through Poulin’s legs and just over the line. Georgia’s Holden Cattoni (2G, 3A) scored the last goal of the half as he fired a hard over hand shot which went off of the post and in to beat Rose. The shots on goal were Toronto 26 and Georgia 25. Score at the end of two: Toronto 10—Georgia 7.
The Rock would outscore the Swarm 3-1 in the third. Less than 30 seconds into the second half and Toronto would add to their lead when Craig passed the ball to Schreiber who scored with a low side arm shot for his hat trick. Both teams settled in as the play went back and forth with the defenses winning the battles while the offense for both teams was ineffective for over 10 minutes in the frame. At just past the 11 minute mark, the Rock scored a strange goal. McArdle attempted a pass to Craig who was sprinting towards the net but the pass was missed by everyone and went through Poulin’s legs for a shorthanded goal giving the Rock a 12-7 lead. A couple of minutes later and the Rock would increase their lead again as Hellyer beat his defender to the outside and cut in front beating Poulin up high. And just like that, 11 seconds later after Jordan MacIntosh (1G, 2A) won the ensuing faceoff; he bolted down the floor and from behind the Rock net, dumped the ball behind Rose cutting into the Rock lead. Shots on goal were Toronto 41 and Georgia 36. Score at the end of three: Rock 13—Swarm 8.
Georgia opened the scoring to start the fourth with Miles Thompson and Jackson completing a give and go pass on transition allowing Jackson to beat Rose short side cutting the Toronto lead to 13–9. Almost seven minutes would pass before another goal would go up on the board. Halfway through the final quarter L. Thompson faked a shot from the top bringing Rose to the top of his crease and Thompson floated the shot over top and into the net behind him making it 13-10 Toronto. The Rock would regain their four goal lead when Brandon Slade (1G, 1A) picked up a rebound off of the back boards, went down on a partial breakaway and beat Poulin with a fake high and shot low. Schreiber would score his fourth of the game off a pass from Slade on a cut through the middle low to the glove side increasing their lead to five. 20 seconds later Georgia would get the goal back, pulling Poulin for the extra attacker and Cattoni’s shot over a defender beat Rose stick side making it 15–11 with just under four minutes left in the game. The Swarm would continue to play with an extra man on the floor and Toronto took advantage. They’d gain possession and Schreiber passed to Jones in front of the net for an empty net goal giving Toronto a 16–11 lead. Normally you would think that a five goal lead with less than two minutes left was safe, but in the playoffs anything could happen and for the few fans that did decide to stay in the arena they saw a Swarm team that refused to quit. With just over two minutes left in the game Staats fired a hard shot from the top that beat Rose glove side for a power play goal cutting the lead to 16–12. 20 seconds later, with the goalie still on the bench, L. Thompson fired a shot from the top that beat Rose to the low corner making it 16–13 for the Rock. With one and a half minutes left in the game and Poulin still on the bench for the extra attacker the Swarm moved the ball around trying to get a good shot on net when L. Thompson fed a cross crease pass to Jackson for a quick stick shot to the short side cutting the lead to 16–14. Georgia would win the ensuing faceoff and set up for another possession in the Toronto end but the defense knocked down a couple of passes and were able to pick up the loose ball and get it across center where they killed the rest of the clock for the win. Final score: Toronto 16—Georgia 14.
Shots on Goal Toronto 49 – Georgia 49
- Tom Schreiber 4G, 1A
- Adam Jones 3G, 6A
- Shayne Jackson 2G, 6A
The Toronto Rock will head to KeyBank Center to face the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday May 11th at 7:30 p.m., EST in the Eastern Division Finals.
Shawn Palmer, Correspondent Toronto Rock
Lacrosse is Awesome©