Another big effort from the Toronto Rock’s forward core propelled them to a 21-9 win over the New England Black Wolves on Saturday night, not to mention first place in the NLL’s east division.
The Rock were looking to keep their winning streak alive in the first-place showdown at the Air Canada Centre, after three games in a row resulted in a goal differential of 61-29. Tom Schreiber and Adam Jones have combined for 37 goals so far this season.
The Rock got on the score sheet first as Rob Hellyer beat Aaron Bold, who was shelled for 16 goals, just 36 seconds into the game. The Black Wolves replied with back-to-back goals of their own by Kyle Buchanan and David Brock four minutes apart.
The Rock retaliated by putting their foot on the gas. Sheldon Burns scored against his old team with five minutes left and Adam Jones gave the Rock a 3-2 lead as time expired in the side.
Jones scored 19 seconds into the second quarter. Schreiber found some room on the short-side and zinged it by Bold and Kieran McArdle potted one to propel the Rock to a 6-3 lead by the 3:30 mark.
A turnover led to a three goal run from New England. Kevin Crowley and David Brock beat Nick Rose to bring the Wolves within two. Former Rock veteran Stephan Leblanc, who was traded to the Black Wolves for Burns, scored with just under eight minutes left in the quarter and received a smattering of sentimental applause.
Moments later, an incredible goal came from Schreiber as he was able to pick up his own rebound and beat Bold as he was falling to the ground, making it 7-5 for the Rock.
“I missed about 20 shots tonight,” Schreiber chuckled. “I was disappointed; that was another bad shot. I was off-balance. I just kind of reacted and hoped for the best. My eyes were closed. But however the ball goes in the net, I’m fine with it. I’m just trying to steal moves from guys every week.”
Jones wanted to one up Schreiber as he found the back of the net for his third goal of the game, giving him a hat-trick in just 30 minutes of play.
An off-bounce after a shot from John Lafontaine found its way off the post and off defenceman Billy Hostrawser and behind Rose. It was an odd goal, especially because Lafontaine stepped in the crease after shooting, but the Rock lost their challenge. NLL rules state that the goal will count if it deflects off a defenseman as long as the offensive player has exited the crease.
Reid Reinholdt scored as he was left all along in front of the net at 10:52. Hellyer beat Bold short-side, which proved to be his weakness in the game, to put the Rock up 10-6. Crowley‘s second of the game got one back for New England, who went to the dressing room trailing the Rock in shots 36-26.
As the third quarter heated up, so did Schreiber as he scored his third and fourth goals in the opening minutes putting the Rock up 12-7. Leblanc ended Schreiber’s run as he beat Rose for his second of the game.
At the seven-minute mark of the third quarter Rose made a save of the year candidate as he challenged the shooter at the top of his crease, reaching back with the head of his stick and plucking the ball out of midair.
Moments later, Kyle Buchanan fooled Rose, not an easy thing to do on this night, and found the back of the net, bringing the Wolves within three. Hellyer completed a hat-trick and Daniel Craig scored in the final minutes of the third, giving the Rock a comfortable 14-9 lead.
The nine goals the Black Wolves managed in 45 minutes was all for them, as Rose shut them out in the fourth and the Rock ran away with the game. They exploded with six goals in under five minutes, including two in the first minute which ended Bold’s night in favour of Doug Jamieson. Jamieson, who was part of the Six Nations Arrows 2014, 2015 and 2017 Minto Cup rosters, came in and faced an onslaught of rubber.
Burns scored his second of the game – his sixth overall for the Rock, on his sixth shot as a member of the Rock. He did later take a shot and was stopped, dropping his shooting percentage barely under 100. Brett Hickey’s only goal of the game capped the scoring at 11:23.
The Rock looked stellar in this game with the Black Wolves not even looking like competition. The Rock’s three-headed monster of Schreiber, Hellyer and Jones sliced through the New England defence like a hot knife through butter. Rose stood his own as he has all year making 46 saves in the process. The Rock’s defense deserves a lot of credit too, holding Shawn Evans to just three assists. If you can hold a team to under 10 goals in this league, you’re doing an outstanding job.
The Rock will continue their home stretch as they welcome the Calgary Roughnecks for an all-Canadian matchup on Saturday, February 3rd. The Black Wolves will look to gain back their ground on first place as they welcome the Buffalo Bandits into Mohegan Sun Arena on February 9th.