Brodie Merrill & Ryan Sharp go after a loose ball. Credit: Graig Abel
With first place in the East Division on the line, the Toronto Rock fell 14-8 loss to the Philadelphia Wings in front of 10,360 at the Air Canada Centre.
Dan Dawson had three goals and seven assists to lead the Wings (4-2), who now sit alone in first. It was the second consecutive 10-point game for the reigning Offensive Player of the Week.
The win for Philadelphia came in vengeful fashion after the Rock blanked Philadelphia in the second half of a 15-6 win at the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 4.
“I think we did a good job scouting and knowing what we did wrong last time around. We made some changes to our game plan and last time we didn’t,” said Wings forward Brendan Mundorf, who contributed five goals and three assists Saturday.
Mundorf played alongside Dawson and rookie star Kevin Crowley, and the trio combined for 11 goals
The game started out positive for the Rock with a 3-2 lead after the first quarter, but the Wings answered scoring four goals in each of the reaming periods. A late collapse in the second that saw three Philadelphia goals in a span of 2:50 opened the floodgates.
“This is (ticking) me off and we need to play better,” said Toronto head coach Troy Cordingley. “We got owned in our own rink.”
The loss for the Rock spoiled the return of captain Colin Doyle, who hadn’t played since Jan. 27, when he suffered a lower-body injury and snapped an NLL record-tying run of playing in 188 straight games.
“I felt pretty good,” said Doyle, who had one assist. “[Philadelphia] made some great shots, they are a good team, they are going to do that if you give them time and space. Contrary, at the other end, I wasn’t feeling like we were getting our time and space and we didn’t get good shots.”
The Rock’s most dangerous duo, Garrett Billings and Josh Sanderson, were cooled off in dramatic fashion, combining for only seven points. The two totalled 18 points in the first meeting against the Wings continuing a dominating streak. Before Saturday, Billings and Sanderson scored 33 points in their last two games.
“We weren’t good enough,” said Sanderson. “If you’re not good enough with nine teams in the league you’re not going to win.”
The Rock also lost defenseman Patrick Merrill to what the team is calling a leg injury. After a collision in front of goaltender Matt Roik late in the first period, Merrill limped to the bench and did not return.
That adds to what has been an injury-plagued season for Toronto who are still awaiting the return of star forward Blaine Manning from a broken collarbone.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if [Merrill] was out for who knows. He’s been sent for X-rays,” said Cordingley. “The injury situation for this team is – I’ve never seen it like this.”
Roik allowed 13 goals on the night, his second-highest total this season. He was pulled with 7:29 remaining after facing 37 shots, giving Pat Campbell a chance to get some time in.
“I didn’t make the saved when I need to, Kudos to them,” said Roik.
The Rock will look to get back on track next Friday at home in a match against Rochester while the Wings will travel to face Edmonton.