Clarke Petterson and Chris Boushy came to the rescue for a depleted Halifax Thunderbirds offence, scoring seven points each in an 11-7 victory over the Toronto Rock in Halifax on Friday evening.
The Thunderbirds were without Cody Jamieson and Austin Shanks heading into the game. Then they lost Rhys Duch in the first quarter, who fell awkwardly after being hit. With a shorthanded offence, Clarke Petterson scored six goals and added an assist, while Chris Boushy scored three goals and four assists.
“Clarky was outstanding tonight,” said Halifax’s head coach Mike Accursi. “He just keeps getting better and better… we’re missing the Cody Jamiesons and the Rhys Duchs, and he stepped in there and played outstanding. I couldn’t ask for any more out of that kid. Boushy played awesome and he scored on his opportunities, and that’s all you can ask for.”
The victory came at a cost for Halifax. Duch had to be helped off the floor, and the news wasn’t good.
“Duchy is probably done for the year,” said Accursi. “I think he tore his patella tendon, but we’re just waiting for a confirmation tomorrow.”
The injury occurred after Duch scored a hat trick last game against the Saskatchewan Rush as a late replacement for the injured Cody Jamieson. Duch worked his way back to full health after dealing with an achillies injury he suffered during the 2019 championship run with the Calgary Roughnecks.
While that’s a terrible blow for Duch and the team, there was some good news on the injury front. Accursi said Jamieson and Shanks are close to returning.
With injuries come opportunities, and Petterson and Boushy showed why they are two promising young forwards in the NLL.
Clarke Petterson opened the scoring for Halifax. He and Tyson Bell went on a two-on-one, Petterson passed it to Bell, who gave it right back, and Petterson shot the ball into the top left corner of the net. He added another one in the dying seconds of the quarter to make it 2-0.
And Petterson was just warming up. He scored his hat trick goal seven minutes into the second quarter. However, his prettiest goal came a few minutes later. Petterson faked a shot to freeze the defenceman, and then he walked around him to get right in on the goalie for the goal.
Petterson added another for five goals in the first half. Chris Boushy, and Dan Craig for Toronto, scored the other goals.
“Some days it will be me, some days it will (Stephen) Keogh some days it will be Kyle (Jackson), you know our offence works that way where we’re all working hard,” said Petterson. “The lefties were drawing a lot of attention off-ball tonight and that let me free up my space and free up my hands on the back side.”
In the third quarter, Toronto’s Tom Schreiber and Halifax’s Boushy both scored two goals to make the game 8-3 for Halifax.
Toronto’s offence finally woke up in the fourth quarter.
Rob Hellyer scored 4:42 into the quarter. He took advantage of a gorgeous pick by Challen Rogers to push Brad Gillies out of the way and give Hellyer a point-blank opportunity that he scored on. Latrell Harris scored quickly after to make the game 9-5.
The Rock weren’t done. Schreiber shot over a Thunderbirds’ defenceman up high and managed to get it through Halifax’s goalie, Warren Hill. Schreiber added his fourth goal a minute-and-a-half-later while shorthanded to make the game 9-7 with just under four minutes left. That’s back-to-back four-goal games for Schreiber, and he also scored his 100th career goal.
“I think we kind of got on our heels a little bit. Instead of playing to win, we were playing not to lose,” said Accursi. “You play with a different mindset when you have that attitude, and we got back on our heels, (Toronto) got a few transition opportunities and they capitalized on them, and then we were chasing their tails a little bit.”
Stephen Keogh stopped the onslaught. He received a pass from Tyson Bell and quickly fired it from the left side to make the game 10-7 with under three minutes left.
Nonkon Thompson drew into the game as a forward because of injuries, and he was rewarded. With under two minutes left, he grabbed the ball from the right side and dove across the crease for his first NLL goal. Halifax won the game 11-7 and improved to two wins and no losses to start the season.
Toronto’s fourth-quarter onslaught overshadowed a brilliant game from Halifax’s goalie Warren Hill. By the third quarter, Toronto outshot Halifax 43-30 and Hill stopped 40 of those shots. His biggest save was five minutes into the fourth. Reid Reinholdt went in alone on Hill and fired a shot to the top corner but Hill got his glove on it. He finished the game stopping 45 of 52 shots.
When asked how he was feeling, Hill said, “tired, honestly exhausted. But my defence played phenomenal today and all the credit to those guys. It’s cliché, but honestly, they gave me all the shots I wanted to see, low percentage shots. As much as it says on the stat sheet all the saves I made, it’s all them as well.”
The Thunderbirds are off for the holiday break. They’re next in action on Dec. 30 when they travel to Calgary to play the Roughnecks. They are back in Halifax on Jan. 8 against the New York Riptide.