Rogers Scores the OT Winner as the Rock Spoil the Thunderbirds Comeback 5/6/22

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Shawn Palmer, Toronto Rock Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©

Featured Image Photo Credit:  Christian Bender

 The Halifax Thunderbirds (11-8) travelled to Hamilton, Ontario to play the Toronto Rock (14-5) in the Eastern Division Quarter Finals playoff game.  The game was a “must win” for both teams with the victor heading to Round Two of the 2021-22 Playoffs and the loser going home. It was a tale of two halves as the Rock dominated the first half and then needed to tie it up in the fourth to send it into overtime.  Each team had a possession in the extra period and on the second Halifax possession Challen Rogers(1G, 1A) scored the winning goal to send the Rock to the Eastern Final.  Final Score OT:  Rock 14—Thunderbirds 13.

The Toronto Rock came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter of their playoff game on Friday night as just over three minutes into the quarter Tom Schreiber (3G, 2A) came off the bench and got the pass from Rob Hellyer (2G, 3A) and his overhand shot beat Warren Hill (10 saves) to the bottom corner to open the scoring.  Three minutes later Zach Manns (2G, 3A) picked up a rebound beside the net, dove across the crease and beat Hill back to the short side top corner to make it 2 – 0 for the Rock.  Less than a minute later Latrell Harris (1G, 2A) stripped the ball from a Halifax player and went down the floor and with a backhand twister shot between the legs extended the Rock lead to three.  Toronto would continue the run on a low-to-low underhand shot from Schreiber from the top to the stick side and the Rock had a four goal lead at the 10:57 mark.  Less than a minute later Brad Kri (2A) while in transition dropped the ball off to Mitch de Snoo (2G, 1A) and his shot beat Hill stick side and the score board showed 5-0 Toronto. The Halifax coaches had seen enough and decided to pull Hill in favour of Aaron Bold (32 saves) for the remainder of the game.  It took only 32 seconds and Halifax finally made it on the board with less than three minutes left in the quarter as Eric Fannell (1G, 2A) took a sidearm shot that beat Nick Rose (41 saves) over the glove hand to finish off the first quarter scoring.  The shots at the end of the first quarter had Toronto with the lead 17—Halifax 9.  Score at the end of one:  Rock 5—Thunderbirds 1.

The second got off to a slow start with the first goal not going up on the board until 6:21 in and the Rock would strike first. Toronto would continue to dominate Halifax in the second. Hellyer was at the top, shot around his defender beating Bold with a bounce shot to the glove side  extending the Rock lead 6 – 1.  Halifax would respond 10 seconds later when Ryan Terefenko (1G, 3A) fired a high to low overhand shot that went to the low stick side corner and it was 6 – 2 Toronto.  With under four minutes left in the first half while on the power play, the Rock had four shot resets as they picked up loose balls to continue the possession wearing out the Thunderbirds defense.  Dan Dawson (2G) picked up a ball beside the crease and dove across beating Bold to the far side to make it 7 – 2.  Halifax cut the lead to four off a beautiful shot from Austin Shanks (2G, 1A) who was at the top and his laser of low to high shot picked the top corner over Rose’s shoulder to make it 7 – 3 for the Rock and their last in the half.  Thirty seconds later while on transition, Harris fed to de Snoo and his bounce shot went short side  for another five goal lead.  Toronto would close out the scoring in the half as Dan Craig (1G, 3A) cut to the net, got the pass from Hellyer and his quick stick shot went far side with 1:18 on the ticker.  Toronto was close to doubling the shots on goal over Halifax 35—18 after two quarters.  Score at the end of two:  Rock 9—Thunderbirds 3.

Photo Credit: Christian Bender/NLL

The Thunderbirds coaches must have made an inspiring speech at half time as they came out in the second half with a purpose and went on a four-goal tear.  It took only 20 seconds into the third quarter while on transition Jake Withers (1G, 1A) ran the whole floor and his sidearm shot beat Rose stick side cutting the Rock lead 9 – 4.  Three minutes later while on the power play Cody Jamieson’s (2G, 3A) bounce shot beat Rose to the far side and it was 9 – 5.  While on another power play Shanks took an over hand shot from the top that went short side and the Rock lead was down to three at 9 – 6.  The run would end less than a minute later with Stephen Keogh (2G, 1A) taking a shot from the outside that went far side bottom corner to make it 9 – 7.  Toronto stopped the Halifax run when Schreiber made a nice BTB pass to Hellyer and the shot went over the shoulder increasing the Rock lead to 10 – 7.  But two minutes later Halifax would respond while in transition and Tyson Bell (1G, 1A) went in all alone and beat Rose with a shot over the shoulder and it was 10 – 8.  With less than three minutes left in the third, the Rock answered back.  Manns came off the bench, took a pass from Hellyer and his high to low shot went far corner restoring the three goal lead for Toronto at 11 – 8.  The Rock would end the scoring in the quarter in the last 15 seconds when Craig made a cross floor pass to Dawson and his bounce shot beat went five hole giving them a four-goal lead going into the final quarter.  Toronto still held a healthy lead in shots on goal after three but Halifax was closing the gap, Toronto led 45–Halifax 30.  Score at the end of three:  Rock 12—Thunderbirds 8.

Halifax came out quickly in the fourth quarter when Jamieson took a high to high shot from the outside that beat Rose over the shoulder to make it 12 – 9 for the Rock 30 seconds into the frame. This started another run, this time a five-goal run. Just over a minute later Brad Gillies (1G) went coast to coast and his shot beat Rose over the shoulder and the Rock lead was down to two now at 12 – 10.  Two minutes later Clarke Petterson (1G, 4A) took a hard high shot from the outside that also beat Rose over the shoulder to get Halifax to within one at 12 – 11.  Halifax continued to press and a minute later Keogh fired a high to low shot through the legs to tie it up just over five minutes in.  The Thunderbirds took their first lead of the game 15 seconds later when Dawson Theede(1G, 1A) took a high to low bounce shot that beat Rose to the far side to make it 13 – 12 for Halifax.  The home crowd of 7,241 was in stunned silence as they had watched a six goal lead evaporate and now the Rock would need to make a comeback of their own.  Almost halfway through the final stanza Craig passed to Schreiber and his overhand shot beat Bold to the far side for his hat trick to tie it at 13’s.  Halifax had five point blank shots on Rose in the last minute which he turned away.  It looked like Halifax may have netted the winner as a rebound was put in by Shanks with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker but after review the referees determined that the clock had reached double zero before the ball entered the net and we were heading to sudden victory overtime.  Score at the end of four:  Rock 13—Thunderbirds 13.

Both teams had a possession in the overtime period with nothing settled and on the second possession for Halifax one of their passes in the offensive zone was knocked down by Challen Rogers who scooped up the ball and he went in all alone on Bold.  His bounce shot went through the legs of Bold sending the crowd into a frenzy and the Rock onto the next round of the playoffs.  In the frame, Toronto had 2 shots on goal with Halifax having -0-.  Final Score OT:  Rock 14—Thunderbirds 13.

The three stars of the game were:

Challen Rogers – Toronto Rock:  1 goal (OT winner), 1 assist
Tom Schreiber – Toronto Rock:  3 goals, 2 assists
Cody Jamieson – Halifax Thunderbirds:  2 goals, 3 assists


Halifax Thunderbirds—SOG 54; Saves 42; Face-offs 21-31; Assists 19; LB 78; TO 25; PP 2-2
Toronto Rock—SOG 56; Saves 41; Face-offs 10-31; Assists 22; LB 79; TO 12; PP 1-2


The Toronto Rock will face either the Buffalo Bandits or the Albany Firewolves in a best Two out of Three Series starting next weekend depending on who wins their playoff game on Saturday May 7, 2022.  If Buffalo wins, Toronto will head to Key Bank Center next weekend for game one.  If Albany wins, they will host the first game of the playoff series at First Ontario Centre on Sunday. The Halifax Thunderbirds season is over after the loss.

Shawn Palmer, Toronto Rock Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©