Shawn Palmer – Toronto Rock Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Halifax Thunderbirds
The Toronto Rock (4-2) hosted the once undefeated Halifax Thunderbirds (6-1) for the first time ever at the Scotiabank Arena on Friday night. The Rock was without three of their top offensive powerhouses, Tom Schreiber; Adam Jones; and Dan Craig. Over the first three quarters the Rock would dominate on both ends of the floor and although the Thunderbirds mounted a comeback in the fourth it would not be enough. Toronto would hold on for the victory handing their North Division rivals, the Halifax Thunderbirds their first loss ever. Final Score: Toronto 12—Halifax 9.
The first quarter started slow as both teams were feeling each other out with the defense for both teams holding the offenses at bay. Finally just under six minutes into the first, Halifax went on a power play. Ryan Benesch (1G, 3A) passed to Kyle Jackson (1G) behind the Toronto net and he dove in front beating Nick Rose (42 saves) to the open side to get Halifax on the board first. Toronto came back less than a minute later as Dan Dawson (3G, 1A), with a defender draped all over him twisted and turned and as he was falling beat Warren Hill (37 saves, 1A) to the far side tying the game at ones. The Rock took their first lead when Damon Edwards (1G, 2A) grabbed the loosie on transition and started a three on two up the floor; stopped at the top and beat Hill with an over hand shot to the bottom glove hand corner to make it 2 – 1 Rock. With just over a minute left in the frame, Scott Dominey (2G) on another transition break fired a shot from outside that beat Hill to the stick side for his first goal of the season, increasing the Rock lead to 3 – 1 at the end of the first quarter. The shots on goal favored Toronto 14-11.
The Thunderbirds opened the scoring in the second quarter with a Graeme Hossack (2A) pass to Colton Armstrong (1G) to beat Rose with a shot that squeezed through the five hole cutting the Toronto lead to 3 – 2. It took only 12 seconds for the Thunderbirds Captain Cody Jamieson (2G, 2A) right off of the faceoff, the recipient of a pass from Hossack to beat Rose short side to tie up the game at three apiece. Halifax took their first lead of the game as Hill made a nice outlet pass to Clarke Petterson (2G, 4A) who went in on a breakaway beating Rose glove side for another power play goal giving the Thunderbirds their first lead 4 – 3. Toronto got that one back a little over a minute later and would go on a four-goal run, when Reid Reinholdt (1G, 1A) beat his defender down low broke towards the net and dove across the crease to the far side to tie the game at four. In an exciting extra effort by Adam Jay (1G) to chase down a loose ball that would have been an over and back call, he picked it up in the Halifax corner; cut to the net and before the defenders could make it back he dove across the crease to beat Hill below his glove to regain the lead for the Rock at 5 – 4. A few minutes later the Rock benefitted from a Thunderbirds defender who lost his helmet and had to go to the bench leaving Dawson wide open in front of the net, he got the pass from Zach Manns (3A), threw three fakes and beat Hill over the shoulder to make it 6 – 4 for the Rock. Toronto called a timeout with 29 seconds left in the half. They pulled Rose in favor of the extra attacker and had the last shot of the half. The Rock moved the ball around and Challen Rogers (1G, 2A) fired a shot from the outside which beat Hill to the stick side with 0.2 seconds left. The shots on goal still favored Toronto 28—24. Score at the end of the first half: Toronto 7—Halifax 4.
One minute into the third things got chippy. Sheldon Burns (Toronto) and Mike Burke (Halifax) dropped the gloves and with one punch Burns took down Burke to get all 10,946 fans out of their seats. Halifax had a possession that lasted two minutes and with a tired defense on the floor Austin Shanks (1G) received the pass from Petterson beating Rose over the shoulder closing the gap to two. At the 5:31 mark, Dawson got a pass from Manns in front on the power play goal notching his third of the game to give the Rock a three goal lead at 8–5 once more which started yet another four-goal run for Toronto. The third frame continued exactly like the second with the Rock controlling the remaining ten minutes shutting out the Thunderbirds. Rob Hellyer (2G, 1A) finally got on the board beating his defender down low; jumping over the crease beating Hill to the far side to increasing the Rock lead by four, their largest lead of the night. Less than 30 seconds later, on a turnover the Rock transitioned up the floor and Dominey beat Hill through the legs and the Rock had doubled the T-Birds 10 – 5. With less than 30 seconds in the frame, Rogers found Hellyer who fired a side arm shot to the bottom corner for their fourth in a row. Once again, Toronto held the lead in shots on goal 37—35. Score at the end of three: Toronto 11—Halifax 5.
The Toronto defense continued to be stingy in the fourth quarter but Halifax finally broke through just over five minutes into the frame as they scored another power play goal when Petterson came across the top and shot around a screen beating Rose to the bottom stick hand corner making it 11 – 6 for the Rock. This would start a four-goal run as they would chip away at the Rock lead one by one. Eric Fannell (1G) reduced the Toronto lead by one more as he received a flip pass from Benesch to beat Rose through the legs cutting the Rock lead to four. Halifax was on their sixth power play and Benesch took a sidearm shot around a screen to the far side making it 11 – 8 for Toronto with seven minutes left in the game. The Toronto defenders were getting their sticks and bodies in the way of many Halifax shots and in particular Damon Edwards who blocked four shots in the last three minutes; including one that brought him to his knees and stopped the play while Halifax was pressing. With just over three minutes left in the game Jamieson fought off three defenders on his way to the net killing off a penalty and bounced a shot through Rose’s legs to get the Thunderbirds to within two goals at 11 – 9. Halifax continued to press and pulled their goalie in the last minute of the game but a missed shot which allowed Brad Kri (2A) to pick up the loose ball, then passed it to David Brock (1G, 1A) for the empty net goal sealing the win for the Rock. Total shots on goal ended up in favor of Halifax 52—48. Final Score: Toronto 12—Halifax 9.
Rock head coach, Matt Sawyer, said after the game “We had five regulars out of the lineup and we got to see our depth”. “Guys got their opportunities and certainly stepped up and performed tonight”.
The five players Head Coach Matt Sawyer was referring to were: Tom Schreiber; Adam Jones; Latrell Harris; Dan Craig; and Brandon Slade.
“That was good entertainment for everyone watching,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer. “It was a good performance, a big win and one we needed.”
“We need to play a full 60 minutes,” said Graeme Hossack. “We can’t come out flat and expect to come back in the second half. This loss shows us that we still have a lot to learn”
- Dan Dawson (3G, 1A)
- Clarke Petterson (2G, 4A)
- Nick Rose (42 saves)
Halifax: 51 SOG; 30 SOFF; 88 LB; 22-24 FO; 4-6 PP; 20 PIM
Toronto: 49 SOG; 14 SOFF; 65 LB; 2-24 FO; 2-4 PP; 21 PIM
Halifax Warren Hill: 49 SOG; 37 Saves; 12 GA; .755 Sv%
Toronto Nick Rose: 51 SOG; 42 Saves; 9 GA; .824 Sv%
The Toronto Rock (4-2) will host the Buffalo Bandits (5-1) on Sunday February 9, game time 3:00 p.m. EST.
The Halifax Thunderbirds (6-1) have the bye-week and will host the Saskatchewan Rush (3-2) on Saturday February 15, game time 6:00 p.m. EST.
Shawn Palmer – Toronto Rock Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©