Shawn Palmer, Toronto Rock Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Photo Credit: Eric Shewell
The Toronto Rock (9-3) came into Philadelphia on an eight game winning streak with the hopes of moving into first place in the Eastern division with another win while the Philadelphia Wings (5-5) were coming off a hard fought victory over New York in their last game and the hopes of getting closer to the final playoff spot in the East. Zach Higgins decided that he was going to put the Wings on his back and carry them to the win as he shut the door on the Rock offense with his 55 saves in an important 11 – 10 victory for the Wings.
The Wings opened up the scoring just under two minutes into the game with Matt Rambo (1G, 3A) firing a side arm shot from the outside that beat Nick Rose (21 saves) to the far side giving Philadelphia the early 1 – 0 lead. The only other goal to go up on the board in the first came from Blaze Riorden (2G). He spun away from his defender and dove across the crease to beat Rose to the far side and doubled the Wings lead to 2 – 0. The Rock continued to pepper Zach Higgins (55 saves) with shots in the quarter including while on a power play but were unable to find the back of the net and after the first quarter it was Philadelphia 2 and Toronto 0. The shots on goal saw Toronto more than doubling the Wings 16-7.
The second was a much different story as the teams would combine for nine goals. Toronto would open up the scoring in the second just over a minute into the quarter. Dan Craig (4G, 2A) fired an overhand shot and beat Higgins to the glove side cutting the Wings lead in half at 2 – 1. It took just over two minutes and while on the power play Mitch Jones’ (2G, 5A) sidearm shot around his defender would beat Rose to the stick side to reestablish the two goal lead for the Wings at 3 – 1. But Toronto would respond when Latrell Harris (1G, 1A) stripped the ball from a Wings player in his own end, picked up the loose ball, ran the floor and fired it over the shoulder to make it 3 – 2. They’d get one more while in transition. Challen Rogers (1G, 4A) fired an over hand shot over his defender that went far side to tie the game up at three. Philadelphia would come right back when Ben McIntosh (3G, 2A) threw a hard pick on his defender, received a pass from Joe Resetarits (1G, 6A) and his bounce shot went five-hole to make it 4 – 3. Less than 30 seconds later Craig took a high to high shot that went just under Higgins arm and into the net to tie it back up at four. But a minute later Jones fired a laser into the top corner over the shoulder to regain the Wings lead 5 – 4. The run would continue with Resetarits off a pass from the far side and his high to low shot went to the low glove corner for a two goal lead 6 – 4 Wings. Trevor Baptiste (1G) would win the ensuing faceoff, he headed to the front of the net, got the dish from Resetarits and went far side only 9 seconds later giving the Wings their biggest lead of the game at 7 – 4. Once again, Toronto had more than doubled the Winds in shots on goal and at the end of the first half Toronto favored the Wings 32-14.
Higgins continued to keep the Rock off the scoresheet through the first five minutes of the second half as the Rock were firing shots early and often but without any luck. Both teams went back and forth over the first 10 minutes of the second half without any goals. The Rock had gone over 18 minutes without a goal which is uncharacteristic for the highest scoring team in the NLL. Finally with just three minutes left in the third quarter McIntosh with a high to low shot beat Rose under his stick and through the legs to double up the Rock at 8 – 4. Toronto was able to get one back after over 20 minutes of no goals. Corey Small’s (2G) bounce shot while on the run beat Higgins to the far side to make it 8 – 5 at the end of the third quarter. Toronto continued to lead in shots by more than double with 48-22 over the Wings.
The Wings would open the scoring in the fourth quarter. Kiel Matisz (1G) came in on transition and his behind the back shot went to the low stick side and it was 9 – 5. Craig got the Rock back into it starting a four-goal run. He beat his defender to the net and his shot went over the shoulder into the top corner for his hat trick goal to make it 9 – 6. Twenty seconds later Tom Schreiber (2G, 4A) finally got on the board from the top and his high to low bounce shot went the five hole to get the Rock within two 9 – 7. Craig would continue the Toronto run as he beat his defender underneath, dove across the crease and beat Higgins top corner to get them within one 9 – 8. They’d cap the run while on the power play after some nice ball movement Small would bounce a shot between Higgins legs to tie it up at nine with under five minutes to go in the fourth. But the Wings were having none of that as Riorden would beat his man down low and went far side to regain the lead for Philadelphia 10 – 9 with just over three minutes left in the game. They’d put up the final tally from McIntosh. He got the pass from Resetarits to beat Rose with a bounce shot to the far side increasing the Wings lead to 11 – 9. Schreiber would score with 51 seconds on the clock beating two players and depositing the ball over Higgins shoulder to make it 11 – 10. Toronto would pull Rose and had a couple of chances to tie it up but Higgins made more great saves to get the win for the Wings 11 – 10.
The Three Stars of the game were:
Zach Higgins – Philadelphia Wings: 55 saves
Mitch Jones – Philadelphia Wings: 2G, 5A
Dan Craig – Toronto Rock: 4G, 2A
Toronto Rock—SOG 65; Saves 21; Sv% .656%; FO 9-25; PP 1-2
Philadelphia Wings—SOG 32; Saves 55; Sv% .865%; FO 16-25; PP 1-2
The Toronto Rock (9-3) will host the Albany FireWolves (2-8) at First Ontario Centre on Saturday March 11, 2023, game time 7:00 p.m. EST. Fans in the USA can see the game on ESPN+. This is the Game of the Week for fans in Canada and they can see the game for free on TSN, or they can tune in to TSN.ca or the TSN app.
The Philadelphia Wings (5-5) will head to Nassau Memorial Coliseum where they will face the New York Riptide (2-9) on Saturday March 11, 202, game time 7:30 p.m. EST. Fans in the USA can see the game on ESPN+. Fans in Canada can catch the action on TSN.ca or the TSN app.
Shawn Palmer, Toronto Rock Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©