The back-to-back defending National Lacrosse League champion Rochester Knighthawks (3-0) continued their 2014 dominance as they defeated the Toronto Rock (1-2) 12-8 to remain unbeaten in their first three games, doing so for the first time since 1998.
Reigning NLL Goaltender of the Year Matt Vinc was solid in net making 38 saves, but the defense of the Knighthawks was outstanding all night, breaking up passes, blocking shots and forcing a season high of 13 turnovers. The Rochester defense allowed just three 5-on-5 goals. Peterborough, ON native Scott Self was a horse on the back end, forcing three turn overs, scooping seven loose balls and chipped in two assists on the transition.
Leading the way offensively for the Knighthawks was 13-year-veteran Dan Dawson with an impressive seven assists. University of Syracuse product Cody Jamieson benefited from Dawson’s dishes as he found the back of the cage a team best four times. Rochester’s ball movement was key in getting Rock netminder Nick Rose moving and creating back door opportunities all night. Rose made just 34 saves on 46 shots tallying a season low save percentage of .756.
The struggles continue for the Rock as they have dropped two straight games and were held to single digits for the first time this season. Offensive studs Colin Doyle, Josh Sanderson and Stephan Leblanc were all held to just two points each in the loss. Langley, BC native Garrett Billings led the way for Toronto with one goal and three helpers for four points.
A major bright point to the Rock’s 12-8 loss was the continuation of 21-year-old Rob Hellyer’s stellar play. The Orangeville Northmen Jr. A product netted a pair of goals bringing his season total to six. Hellyer now has nine points on the season, putting him fifth among all Rock goal scores.
Toronto born defender Damon Edwards extended his goal streak to two games after he found the back of the cage for the second time this season. The Toronto Beaches Jr. A alum has already matched his career best point total (4) just three games into the season. Edwards’ two-way play will be vital to the success of the Rock as both ends of the floor are currently struggling, with the back end being banged up with key defenders Patrick Merrill, Chris White and Bill Greer all on the injured reserve.
The Knighthawks will look to extend their winning streak to four against their instate rival and red hot Buffalo Bandits (3-1) this Saturday (Jan.25) at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY. The Rock and head coach John Lovell have the week off to get things back on track before hosting the Vancouver Stealth (2-2) at the Air Canada Centre on Friday, January 31.
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