NLL: Rock fall to Swarm in OT

Lyle Thompson. (Photo credit: Kyle Hess)

The Toronto Rock did not have the same luck down in Georgia on Saturday night as they had the previous week against their cross-border rival Rochester Knighthawks, losing to the Swarm 14-13 in overtime.

The Rock had all cylinders firing as they had everything from goaltending, defence, and offence clicking and meshing. This game was be a true test of all of those elements, and it all came down to just a single play in OT.

“Both teams were competitive and battled out there,” said Rock head coach Matt Sawyer in a team press release. “It was lacrosse. It was a game of runs. We had ours early and they pushed back. In the second half we settled in and it was more of the game we expected against them. In the end, we just weren’t good enough and they cashed in on their chance at the end.”

Much to the pleasure of the Rock, they got their offensive groove back in this game as they potted five early first-quarter goals against Mike Poulin which gave them a big lead.

That lead didn’t last very long though, as the Swarm’s offense started buzzing. In just under four minutes, the Rock gave up four unanswered goals making it a 5-4 game. This was just a taste of the back-and-forth battle that Sawyer spoke of. Both teams would trade goals as the time expired in the first quarter with the Rock leading only 6-5.

With 11 first combined goals this game was shaping up to be a shootout. After 13 shots by the Rock in the opening minutes of the second frame, Brett Hickey found the back of the net to pad the Rock’s lead by two. With Brad Kri in the penalty box, Miles Thompson beat Nick Rose to make it a one goal game again.

The Rock found themselves in some more penalty trouble when Damon Edwards drew a double minor. On the ensuing penalty kill, Randy Staats found the back of the net tying the game at seven. With two more minutes in the Edwards penalty, a controversial crease dive goal by the Swarm stood, which gave them an 8-7 lead.

As time would down in the frame, the teams traded goals and the Rock would head to the dressing room down 9-8, after leading 5-0 at the beginning of the game.

Third quarter play was opened up by Rob Hellyer and Brett Hickey who gave the rejuvenated Rock a 10-9 lead with 9:14 left to play. Jesse King would rain on the Rock’s parade as he buried a bounce shot through the legs of Rose to tie the game up at 10 heading into the fourth.

The Rock were able to score three times during the fourth, but the Swarm answered right back to every bell they rang, scoring three themselves. That meant the Rock had to prepare for their first overtime session of 2018.

Shayne Jackson netted the game-winning goal at 3:55.

Though the Rock lost this game, their offence maintained that higher level of power that we have witnessed all year as Brett Hickey and Rob Hellyer netted two goals apiece and Adam Jones scored three for himself. Hellyer also contributed five assists. Rose made 37 saves.

Jesse King led the Swarm with a hat trick and three assists. Jordan Hall also scored a hat-trick. Lyle Thompson had four assists and Mike Poulin made 45 saves.

The Rock will have a huge opportunity to forget this game and move past it as they have a rematch with the Swarn on March 3rd at the Air Canada Centre. The Rock fall to 5-4 on the season and find themselves one game behind of the Buffalo Bandits for first place in the eastern division.