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Philadelphia takes sole possession of East Division lead

03/09/2012, 6:52pm EST
By Justin Millerson, Toronto Rock beat writer for NLL.com

Wings top Toronto 12-10 behind six ponts from Dan Dawson

First place in the East Division now belongs solely to the Philadelphia Wings.

The Wings took over the top spot with Friday night’s 12-10 win over the Toronto Rock. Philadelphia took two of the three games in the season series, and matched its win total from each of the last two seasons.

Philadelphia (5-4), which also won for just the fifth time in 16 games at the Air Canada Centre, was led by Dan Dawson (three goals, three assists), Kevin Crowley (goal, three assists) and Drew Westervelt (three special-teams goals).

“Those players are on the same page on the floor,” Wings head coach and general manager Johnny Mouradian said. “Dawson is a very good mentor. He has taken [Crowley] under his wing. They are making each other better.”

Garrett Billings had a goal with seven assists and Josh Sanderson chipped in with two goals and four assists – including the 700th helper of his career – as the Rock fell to 1-3 on their season-high five-game homestand.

Toronto’s Kasey Beirnes opened the scoring 3:48 into the game. Brodie Merrill tied the score just eight seconds later before Dawson’s first goal gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead after the
first quarter.

Westervelt scored short-handed 49 seconds into the second to extend Philadelphia’s lead to two goals, but that was as big as it would get in the first half. The Rock would outscore the Wings 4-2 before the break, getting power-play goals from Billings, Sanderson and Colin Doyle.

Doyle made his return to the lineup after missing one game with an upper-body injury. He scored two goals and four assists for a season-high six points.

“I feel good, a little tired, a little out of shape,” Toronto’s captain said. “I thought we wasted a pretty good effort by our [defense] and goaltender … we have some work to do offensively.”

The Rock were outscored 7-5 in the second half and is 2-4 at home this year. In 2011, Toronto posted a 7-1 record at home en route to winning its sixth NLL title.

“You have to win at home in this league, it’s really clutch,” said Rock defenseman Sandy Chapman. “We really need to focus on these last two home games.”

After being pulled early in a 14-9 loss to Washington last Saturday, Toronto’s Matt Roik stopped 32 of 43 Wings shots.

“[Roik] had game where he struggled, but he came into this game a played real good, our goaltending was good enough to win,” said Toronto head coach Troy Cordingley.

Philadelphia goaltender Brandon Miller was sensational, making 40 saves on 50 shots, and getting the lone assist on Dawson’s first goal.

Despite the loss and dropping a spot in the standings, Cordingley was happy with his team’s effort.

“I thought it was a really well-played game, two teams battling for first place,” said Cordingley. “We didn’t get the result we wanted but we saw a lot more positives then we have in the past.”



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