Rock Caps Comeback with OT Win in the Fourth over Thunderbirds 3/23/24

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Shawn Palmer, Toronto Rock Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©

Featured Image Photo Credit:  Ryan McCullough

The Toronto Rock (12-3) hosted the Halifax Thunderbirds (8-7) Saturday night for Marvel Superhero Night as they played for the second time this year.  Toronto won the first meeting in Halifax 11 – 9 back in January and were looking to sweep the season series and stay on top of the NLL standings.  On the other hand, Halifax was hoping to get the win to stay in the top four in the standings.  The only lead Toronto had during the entire contest was when they scored in overtime to win the game.  Halifax scored the first four goals of the game and Toronto came back to get them to within two going into the second half.  Halifax led by three going into the fourth quarter, but Toronto was able to make the comeback to tie it up with 58 seconds left on the ticker, sending them into the extra period.  Less than three minutes into OT Mark Matthews (2G, 1A) would end the game and send home happy, the 9,588 Rock fans who were in attendance.  Final Score OT:  Rock 9–Thunderbirds 8.Halifax opened the scoring just over three minutes into the first quarter, just after killing a penalty when Ryan Benesch (3G, 2A) took a low bounce shot that squeezed through the legs of Nick Rose (37 saves), hit the post and went in for the 1 – 0 Thunderbird lead.   A minute later, while in transition after a missed Rock shot, Ryan Terefenko (1G) would grab the loose ball, run the length of the floor and beat Rose with a low shot to the glove side and it was 2 – 0 for Halifax.  Toronto would go man down off a “delay of game” penalty with 9:34 in the frame and the Thunderbirds would capitalize.   Dawson Theede (1G, 2A) received a behind the back pass from Benesch and his low-to-low shot went short side increasing their lead to 3 – 0.  Halifax would continue their run and keep the Rock out of the net.   Johnny Pearson (1G) went around his defender and his shot also went short side to make it 4 – 0.  At the end of the first quarter the shots were Halifax 15—Toronto 8.

It didn’t take long for the Rock to finally get on the board.  Thirty seconds into the second quarter Chris Boushy (1A) took an outside shot that Warren Hill (40 saves) stopped but the rebound went right to Dan Craig (2G, 1A) and he beat Hill to the short side to cut the Halifax lead to 4 – 1.  Their next tally would come in transition when Justin Martin (1G, 1A) picked up a loose ball and went in all alone and his high to low shot went far side to make it 4 – 2 for the Thunderbirds.  The Rock would go on their second man up opportunity on the night, this time off a “holding the stick” call.  While on the power play, they would throw the ball around, Dan Craig (2G, 1A) made a skip pass to Matthews whose high-to-high shot beats Hill over the shoulder getting them to within one 4 – 3.  With 3:59 left in the half, Toronto would go man down again and Halifax would tally their second power play on the night 15 seconds later. Halifax moved the ball around and Benesch passed to Cody Jamieson (1G) who beat Rose to the short side stopping the Rock run, increasing their lead to 5 – 3.  The shots at the end of the first half were Halifax 32—Toronto 21.

The third got off to a slow start. While on a delayed penalty and the goalie pulled, Halifax would score the first goal of the second half eight minutes in. Benesch fired a low-to-low shot that went far side to make it 6 – 3.  Halifax would score again a few minutes later when Clarke Petterson (1G, 3A) fired a low to high shot that beat Rose over the shoulder and the lead was back to four, 7 – 3.  With less than two minutes left in the third, Boushy received a five-minute major for an illegal cross check.  Less than a minute later, Halifax defenseman Nonkon Thompson received a four-minute penalty to even it up and 16 seconds later, Tom Schreiber (2G, 1A) would take a low-to-low shot to beat Hill through the legs and the score was 7 – 4 still in favor of Halifax.  At the end of the third quarter the shots on goal were Halifax 37—Toronto 34.

Photo by Ryan McCullough / Toronto Rock

Toronto would control the fourth, outscoring Halifax 4-1. They got it started 2:40 in on a transition goal. Mitch de Snoo (1G) picked up a loose ball in his own end, took the ball the full floor and his high to low shot beats Hill to the bottom stick side corner cutting the Halifax lead to 7 – 5.  Less than a minute later Craig would come around the back of the net, dove forward, dunk the ball behind Hill and into the net and it was a one goal game 7 – 6.  A minute and 15 later, Theede would make a one-handed pass to Benesch who was open in front, and he went over the shoulder for his hat trick goal putting them back up by two, 8 – 6 Halifax.  Neither team could find the back of the net for the next eight and half.  Then with less than two minutes left in the game while in transition, Martin passed to Dan Lintner (1G) coming off the bench and he beat Hill to the glove side getting them back to within one, 8 – 7.  With 58 seconds left in regulation, Schreiber picked up a rebound from his own shot, threw three fakes and took a backhand shot into the top corner tying the game at eight.  Neither team could score in the last minute, forcing some bonus lacrosse for the fans and they would head to overtime to decide the winner of this game.

It took just over two minutes into the overtime frame for the home team to score. Matthews got a pass in transition from Schreiber and his shot beat Hill to the glove side to cap the comeback for the Rock as they win 9 – 8 in OT.

The Three Stars of the game were:
Mark Matthews – Toronto Rock: 2G, 1A including the OT winner
Warren Hill – Halifax Thunderbirds: 40 saves
Nick Rose – Toronto Rock: 37 saves


The Toronto Rock (12-3) have a bye-week and will be back at it on Saturday April 6, 2024, when they head to MVP Arena to face the Albany FireWolves (10-5), game time 7:00 p.m. EST.  Fans in the USA can see the game on ESPN+.  Fans in Canada get to catch the action on TSN+.

The Halifax Thunderbirds (8-7) will also be on the road when they head to Blue Cross Arena to face off against the Rochester Knighthawks (6-7) on Saturday March 30, 2024, game time 7:00 p.m. EST.  Fans in the USA can see the game on ESPN+.  Fans in Canada get to catch the action on TSN+.

Shawn Palmer, Toronto Rock Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©