NLL: Rock back on track, win 12-9 over Knighthawks

toronto rock
Nick Rose makes a save against the Rochester Knighthawks. (Photo credit: Anna Taylor

The Toronto Rock headed out on the road to Blue Cross Arena on Saturday night to take on the struggling Rochester Knighthawks. After falling to the Calgary Roughnecks 18-6, snapping their win streak just a week ago, the Rock looked for and found redemption in the win column as they took this game 12-9.

The Rock got big-time help from star goaltender Nick Rose who has been playing up to past season expectations. Rose was nominated in both 2016 and 2017 for the NLL’s goaltender of the year award, but was beat out by Evan Kirk and then Dillon Ward.

But on Saturday he found himself showing the selection committee why he should be the front-runner this season as the hungry Knighthawks pushed his limits.

”Our goaltender was outstanding and we found a way to get it done, so that was good,” said Rock head coach Matt Sawyer in a team press release. Rose has been making an excellent case for why he should be the next to raise the goaltender of the year trophy as he shone on Saturday. Rose, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Sunday, now finds himself third in the league in goals against and fifth in save percentage.

The Rock found themselves playing catch up, which prior to last week’s loss, had been an unfamiliar situation for them. Rochester goals from Joe Resetarits (2) and Graeme Hossack gave the Knighthawks a 3-1 lead midway through the first quarter. Dan Craig and Rob Hellyer were able to tie the game at three with goals 50 seconds apart.

Just over a minute into the second quarter, back-to-back goals from Latrell Harris and Brett Hickey put the Rock up 5-3. Harris found the back of the net just nine seconds after the face-off.

who found the back of the next just nine seconds after the faceoff. The Knighthawks weren’t about to let the Rock run away with the game so early so they netted two of their own to tie the game up at five. All four goals in the quarter were scored on special teams – three power play goals and one shorty from Dylan Evans.

Joe Resetarits, who had four goals for the Knighthawks, battles against Billy Hostrawser. (Photo credit: Anna Taylor)

This game was a prime example of a defensive battle and it showed as both teams served a combined 10 penalties through three quarters of play. The defensive play, however, was then set on the back burner. Rochester had gone up 7-6 but the Rock exploded for three goals to give them a 9-7 lead entering the fourth and final quarter.

The fourth quarter was a game of stamina as each team took retaliation for the other’s mistakes. Both teams had one penalty each and the Rock bested the Knighthawks in the goal category with empty net goals from defensemen Brock Sorensen and Billy Hostrawser.

Rose was lights out as he made 36 saves on Rochester’s 45 shots giving him an impressive .800 save percentage. His efforts in the crease thrusted the Rock back into the offensive spotlight, something which has come to be expected of them.

This game was not an easy task. As Sawyer pointed out, “that was a tough game out there. We certainly paid a price in all areas on the floor.” Both teams seemed to be in control of this game at one point or another. But ultimately, it was the Rock’s timely efforts and their discipline on the floor that allowed them to sneak out of Rochester with the win.

The Rock improve to 5-3 for second place in the east. The Knighthawks move to 3-6 after a split weekend, as they defeated Georgia 17-10 on Sunday.

The Rock will continue their short road trip as they have a date with the defending NLL champion Georgia Swarm next Saturday in Atlanta. The Knighthawks are still looking to fix some lagging issues as they welcome the red hot Saskatchewan Rush (8-1) at Blue Cross Arena.