Shawn Palmer, Correspondent Toronto Rock
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Toronto Rock
The Toronto Rock (6-2) hosted the Vancouver Warriors (4-6) Saturday night in an all Canadian Alterna Cup match up in front of 8,401 fans on this Family Day long weekend in Ontario. The win also bolstered Toronto’s position in the standings as well given the outcome of the other two games last night. With this win, they move into first and a half-game ahead of Halifax. In what was a tight first 25 minutes it turned into a seven goal win for the Rock as they prevailed 14 – 7 over the Warriors.
The Rock started off the scoring just over a minute into the game when Rob Hellyer (6G, 2A) fired a high to low shot that beat Eric Penney (37 saves) to the far post for the early 1 – 0 lead. For the next nine minutes both teams defense were stingy on allowing good chances while the goaltenders held their ground. Just over 10 minutes into the first, Joel McCready (3G, 2A) ran towards the net, bounced off his defender, spun and took a shot that beat Nick Rose (33 saves) between the legs to tie the game at ones. The Rock got that one back less than two minutes later when Dan Dawson (2G, 2A) faked a pass across the floor and two defenders went for it allowing Dawson to run straight through the middle of the floor and he bounced a shot through Penney’s legs restoring the one goal lead at 2 – 1. Before the end of the first Vancouver would tie it up when Logan Schuss (1G, 3A) cut around a pick and shot low through the five-hole for the equalizer. The shots at the end of the first quarter were also tied at 12 apiece. Score at the end of one: Toronto 2—Vancouver 2.
The Warriors opened up the scoring in the second off a Schuss pass to McCready right on the crease and he dove across beating Rose far side giving Vancouver their first lead of the game at 3 – 2. Johnny Powless (1G, 4A) tied it back up shooting around his defender stick side just as the shot clock was about to expire. Mitch Jones (2G, 3A), the NLL’s leading scorer this year made it on the board with a beautiful goal off a pass while behind the net, he lept forward and caught Rose on the wrong side of the net to put it into the empty side giving the Warriors the lead again at 4 – 3. At the 9:31 mark, the Rock would go on a six goal run with Reid Reinholdt (1G, 3A) tying it up. Reinholdt went around his defender and while it looked like he had no room in front of the net, he dove and put it through Penney’s legs while in mid-air making it four all. Forty five seconds later Hellyer gave the Rock the lead on the power play off a pass from Challen Rogers (2G, 3A) moving in closer to the net to beat Penney with a bounce shot to the short side giving the Rock a one goal lead once again. Rogers would add to the Rock lead off a pass from Reinholdt off a shot across his body to the far side of the net and it was 6 – 4. Less than 30 seconds later Toronto would add one more when Hellyer, from the side of the net, took a shot that went five-hole for his hat trick goal in the first half. Toronto held the lead in shots on goal 27-23. The half ended with the Rock leading 7 – 4.
The Rock would continue their run into the third. At 1:18 into the frame, Rogers cut to the net and threw a fake to the far side; shot to the short side as he dove across the crease, beat Penney to make it 8 – 4 for the Rock. McCready thought he had his hat trick goal with a bounce shot past Rose but Toronto challenged the goal and after review the goal was overturned because McCready’s foot was in the crease before the ball went in the net. This was the first of four consecutive challenges by the two teams which seemed to stymie any momentum the teams were going to get. It took almost four minutes before Toronto would score again. Dawson was the recipient of a nice pass from Powless as he was cutting to the net and he put it into the bottom corner past Penney. Vancouver would be next to throw the challenge flag that Dawson was in the crease but the call stood and the Rock held a five goal lead 9 – 4. McCready got another chance at his hat trick goal when he received an outlet pass on a partial breakaway and beat Rose under the glove only 35 seconds later at 5:39. Toronto challenged the goal thinking that McCready had touched inside the crease before the ball went in but there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the goal making it 9 – 5 and stopping the six-goal run. Rogers came right back got the long outlet pass from Rose, spun around his defender to beat Penney to the short side with a twister shot. But again, another challenge flag was thrown by Vancouver; and the replay showed that Rogers had stepped on the crease line before the ball crossed the line and the goal was over turned. After four and a half minutes, Hellyer would score his fourth on the night, cutting around a screen and the floor opened up allowing him to go right down the middle for the bounce shot doubling them up over Vancouver 10 – 5. Toronto ended the scoring in the third when Scott Dominey (1G) grabbed the rebound in front of the Vancouver net and with one hand shot it behind Penney who had fallen while making the first save. Toronto still held the lead in shots on goal 38-31. Score at the end of three: Toronto 15—Vancouver 5.
The fourth would see four of the five goals scored in the first four and a half minutes. It would be Vancouver who would open up the scoring with a goal very similar to Dominey’s to close out the third. Jordan McBride (1G) would grab a rebound in front of the net and dropped it over Rose who was down after making the first save at 3:10. This reduced the Rock lead to 11 – 6. Hellyer would score back-to-back goals. The first on the extra attacker on an overhand shot from the outside that beat Penney to the stick side at 3:43 for a power-play goal; and the second completing his sock trick (six goals in the game) after a lot of ball movement with a shot through the legs making it 13 – 6 at 4:13. Jones scored his second of the game unassisted off a shot from the outside to the bottom corner under the glove cutting the Rock lead to 13 – 7 at 4:36. It took a full seven minutes of scoreless lacrosse before the final point would go on the board. With less than four minutes left in the game Sheldon Burns (1G, 2A) got the breakaway pass from Brad Kri (2A) and went in on Penney to beat him through the legs with a bounce shot. With the healthy lead, the Rock pulled Rose and put Riley Hutchcraft (2 saves) in net for Toronto for his first minutes in the 2020 season. He faced two shots and saved them both. The shots at the end of the game were Toronto 50 and Vancouver 41. Final Score: Toronto 14—Vancouver 7.
After the game Rob Hellyer said “We’re playing as a unit (on offence), I think that’s the biggest thing. Lefties, righties, we’re moving the ball really well and everyone’s getting chances. We’re just making the most of them right now”
The leaders for Toronto were:
- Hellyer – 6G, 2A
- Rogers – 2G, 3A
- Powless – 1G, 4A
For Vancouver the leaders were:
- McCready – 3G, 2A
- Jones – 2G, 3A
- Schuss – 1G, 3A
Toronto was 2-3 on the power play and Vancouver was 0-2. In the faceoff dot Toronto was 11-26 and Vancouver was 15-26.
NET MINDER STATS:
Vancouver Eric Penney: 37 SOG; 37 Saves; 14 GA; .725 Sv%
Toronto Nick Rose: 40 SOG; 33 Saves; 7 GA; .825 Sv%
The Toronto Rock (6-2) will travel to play the Halifax Thunderbirds (6-2) on Friday February 21, game time 6:00 p.m. EST. This game is critical for both teams. With a win, the Rock will have a two game lead in the first. If the Thunderbirds win, they will move into first.
The Vancouver Warriors (4-6) travel to San Diego (3-6) on Saturday February 22, game time at 2:30 p.m. EST. This recent loss moved the Warriors from second to fourth in the highly contested West Division so they are looking to bounce back. A win next weekend for San Diego would pull them out of the cellar moving them into fourth. So this game is important for both squads.
Shawn Palmer, Correspondent Toronto Rock
Lacrosse is Awesome©