Shawn Palmer, Toronto Rock Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome
Featured Image Photo Credit: Nate Brunt
The Toronto Rock (10-4) visited the Halifax Thunderbirds (6-7) on Saturday March 18, 2023 for the second of two meetings on the year between the two clubs. Toronto was victorious in the first meeting in Toronto defeating Halifax 17 – 8 and if they completed the sweep they would clinch a playoff berth. Halifax needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive in the Eastern division especially with the Philadelphia Wings losing earlier in the day. The Rock continued to play without two of their main players as Challen Rogers and Mitch DeSnoo were still out with injuries but newly acquired Greg Downing made his first appearance in the Rock lineup. This was a back-and-forth affair as neither team could pull away with seven ties and neither team having more than a two goal lead at any time during the game. Halifax pulled ahead in the last three minutes and Toronto couldn’t get the equalizer prior to an empty net goal confirming the victory for Halifax 14 – 12.
Toronto opened the scoring early in the first quarter with a pass from Tom Schreiber(2G, 3A) to Corey Small (2G, 2A) and his low to low sidearm shot around a defender beat Warren Hill (40 saves) just inside the far post for the 1- 0 Rock lead. Halifax would tie it up a few minutes later with a one handed flip pass from Cody Jamieson (4A) to Ryan Benesch(2G, 2A) whose bounce shot beat Nick Rose (38 saves) between the legs to tie it at one. Off the ensuing faceoff, Latrell Harris (1G, 2A) would grab the loose ball and went in on the net, dove across the crease and beat Hill back to the short side to regain the one goal lead at 2 – 1. Both squads got hit with penalties within 15 seconds of one another and while playing four on four the Rock came down in transition and Harris passed back to Schreiber coming off of the bench and his side arm shot went under the arm extending the Rock lead 3 – 1 with six minutes left in the first. With less than 10 seconds in the first, in transition Ryan Terefenko (1G, 1A) got a breakaway pass from Hill and his shot was saved by Rose but the rebound went right to Benesch who deposited the ball into the open net and Toronto would take a 3 – 2 lead to the end of the first quarter. The shots at the end of the quarter had Toronto leading 15-10.
Clarke Petterson (2G, 1A) would open the scoring in the second quarter when he came out of the corner, went around his defender and shot low on the run to the bottom corner tying the game at three two minutes into the frame. The Rock would get that one back in transition with Harris passing the ball to Small coming off the bench and his quick stick beat Hill with a bounce shot through the legs regaining the lead at 4 – 3. Halifax also worked their transition game. Trevor Smyth (1A) broke down the floor and fed Chris Boushy (3G) whose quick stick shot went to the short side to tie the game once again. Halifax would grab their first lead of the game when Eric Fannell (2G, 5A) found Randy Staats(2G, 1A) all alone at the side of the crease and he reached around Rose to beat him to the far top corner and it was 5 – 4 for the Thunderbirds. Halifax would add to their lead halfway through the second with Jamieson dishing to Boushy in the middle and his quick bounce shot went stick side increasing their lead 6 – 4. Toronto would answer back with less than a second left on the shot clock and while falling Dan Craig (4G, 2A) took a shot at the net and it went through the legs cutting the lead to 6 – 5. The Rock would tie the game while in transition when Sheldon Burns (1G) scooped up a loose ball, went in on Hill and his high to high shot went over the shoulder into the top corner and it was six all. They’d take the lead on a great passing play. Fannell with a BTB pass to Benesch faked a shot and passed it to Staats whose quick stick beat Rose through the legs and Halifax would regain the lead at 7 – 6 to end the first half. The shots at the end of the second quarter were still favoring Toronto 29—23.
Toronto would open the scoring in the second half with Schreiber passing to Stephen Keogh (1G, 1A) who was open at the side of the net and his high to high shot went over the shoulder into the top corner to tie the game at seven three minutes into the quarter. Two minutes later Schreiber from long distance fired a low to high and went stick side top corner and Toronto retook the lead 8 – 7. With a delayed penalty being called on the Rock, Halifax would move the ball around and Boushy who was right in front of the crease, got the pass from Jamieson and his quick shot beat Rose over the shoulder for his hat-trick tally and the game was tied at eight. Once again, Halifax would regain the lead with a nice give and go when Fannell moved the ball to Dawson Theede (1G, 2A) and received it right back and Fannell’s shot beat Rose glove side and it was 9 – 8 Halifax. A minute and a half later, Theede would fire a high to low shot from the outside which Rose got a piece of it but it rolled behind him and just over the line for his first goal of the year to make it 10 – 8 Halifax. Toronto would respond less than a minute later when Zach Manns (1G, 3A) fired a sidearm shot that went off the backboards right to Craig and he put it behind Hill before he could cover the far side to cut the lead to 10 – 9 for Halifax. The goal was Craig’s 100th of his career. Craig would get his second goal in a row and third of the game, after coming across the restraining line, he fired a shot that hit the post, hit Hill in the back of the leg and then rolled over the goal line to tie the game at 10 to end the third. The shots after the third quarter still had Toronto leading 42-37.
Halifax would open the scoring in the fourth quarter. Jamieson passed to Fannell and his low sidearm shot and he went bottom corner on the stick side for the go ahead tally giving Halifax the 11 – 10 lead. Less than 40 seconds later, while in transition Graeme Hossack (2A) would pass to Colton Armstrong (1G) and he dove across the crease to beat Rose through the legs increasing the Thunderbirds lead to 12 – 10 with eleven minutes left in the game. It took eight minutes before either team could find the back of the net and it was Toronto who broke the drought. In transition Josh Jubenville (2A) found Craig coming off the bench and his bounce shot went through the legs to make it 12 – 11 for Halifax. Unfortunately, right off the ensuing faceoff, Jake Withers (1A) would pass to Fannell who fed Petterson for the quick stick and he went short side and the lead was back to two for Halifax at 13 – 11. With the goalie pulled the Rock got one back with Small finding Manns in front of the net and his over hand shot found the top corner getting them within one again at 13 – 12 with under two minutes left in the game. Toronto would pull Rose again but the Rock missed on a shot and Terefenko picked up the loose ball, ran the full floor and deposited the ball into the empty net to give the Thunderbirds the 14 – 12 lead with 30 seconds left in the game. Halifax was able to kill off the final 30 to seal the victory and improve their playoff chances.
The Three Stars of the Game were:
Eric Fannell – Halifax Thunderbirds: 2G , 5A
Dan Craig – Toronto Rock: 4G, 2A
Tom Schreiber – Toronto Rock: 2G, 3A
Toronto Rock—SOG 52; Saves 38; Sv% .769%; FO 12-30; PP 0-3
Halifax Thunderbirds—SOG 52; Saves 48; Sv% .731; FO 18-30 PP 0-2
The Toronto Rock (10-4) will head to MVP Arena to face the Albany FireWolves (2-10) on Saturday March 25, 2023, game time 7:00 p.m. EST. Fans in the USA can see the game on ESPN+. Fans in Canada can see the action on TSN.ca or the TSN app.
The Halifax Thunderbirds (6-7) will head to Wells Fargo Center to face the Philadelphia Wings (5-7) on Saturday March 25, 2023, gametime 7:00 p.m. EST. Fans in the USA can see the game on ESPN+. Fans in Canada can see the action on TSN.ca or the TSN app.
Shawn Palmer, Toronto Rock Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©