Saturday night the Toronto Rock (2-1) took a short trip over the border to defeat the new Rochester Knighthawks (0-3) 14-11 in front of 5,036 in attendance at Blue Cross Arena. Toronto started out quick, scoring three times in each of the first two quarters, then going on cruise control after a six-goal outburst in the third.
“It was a good result,” said Rock head coach Matt Sawyer in his post-game conference. “I thought the number on the board was a little unflattering for the way our defense and goaltending played, but that’s the game of lacrosse. We’ve cranked it up a notch back there with our pressure and getting on hands and playing more physical.”
Toronto would build an early 2-0 lead before Pat Saunders would put one by Nick Rose to cut the lead in half. Rob Hellyer would net his second of the game to give the Rock a two-goal cushion at 3-1, but the Knighthawks would tie the game at three after Phil Caputo scored at 4:45 of the second quarter. That was the closest Rochester would get on this night.
Toronto would start the third quarter on fire. Before the quarter was four minutes old the Rock would net three more goals to open a 9-3 lead. Curtis Knight and Turner Evans scored 17 seconds apart to reduce the lead, but goaltender Steve Fryer then left the game with a lower body injury while trailing 10-5. Craig Wende replaced Fryer and the Rock scored two more for a 12-5 lead.
Rochester would mount a comeback by scoring five of the next six goals and trail 13-10 with 2:25 to go in regulation, but an empty net goal by Challen Rogers sealed the victory 14-11.
“I don’t think it was one of our cleanest wins, but the guys were working hard, and it was a gritty win, from the offence and the defense,” said Rock defender Brad Kri.
Dan Craig and Rob Hellyer each had four goals on the night, and the pair combined for three assists as well. Dangerous Dan Dawson (1G/6A) seems to be like a fine wine and gets better with age as he led all scorers with seven points. Nick Rose stopped 38 of 49 shots for the victory.
Shawn Evans (3G/2A), Curtis Knight (2G/3A) and Turner Evans (2G/2A) led the Rochester offense.
Rochester was 3-5 on the power play. Steve Fryer stopped 26 of 36 shots faced before departing with an injury. Wende stooped 16-19 and consumed the loss.
Both teams are off this week as they prepare to face each other again, this time in Toronto on January 11th at 7 p.m.