Nick Rose made 45 saves on 51 shots to help the Toronto Rock (8-3) get closer to a playoff berth and even their season series with the Philadelphia Wings (5-5) with a 13-8 road win at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon.
Rock rookie Kyle Belton opened the scoring 55 seconds into the game for his first career NLL goal. After the Wings tied it, Toronto scored three unanswered goals, the first two by Kasey Beirnes before Josh Sanderson tallied on the power play with four seconds left in the first quarter as the Rock led 4-1 after 15 minutes of play.
“When we get into those holes, which we’ve seen, it’s been tough for us to get out,” Wings general manager and head coach Johnny Mouradian told Philly.com. “We’ve got to get that chemistry and our shooting percentage to where it needs to be to score those goals early on so that it’s a battle.”
Wings transition player Paul Rabil dove across the crease 1:17 into the second quarter to cut the deficit the 4-2, but the Rock scored three times in less than three minutes for a 7-2 lead with 10:15 left. A little over a minute later, Philadelphia scored twice in 11 seconds to trail 7-4.
Sanderson scored his fourth of the first half with 5:40 left in the half before Garrett Billings scored shorthanded three minutes later to go up 9-4. But Wings forward Kevin Crowley dived for a goal with 0.2 seconds left in the first half to trail 9-5 at the break.
Crowley scored shorthanded 2:09 into the second half before Rock captain Colin Doyle scored with 41 seconds left in the third quarter for a 10-6 lead after 45 minutes of play.
Belton made it 11-6 by squeaking one past Wings goalie Brandon Miller 1:29 into the fourth quarter before teammate Damon Edwards took a five-minute major penalty for elbowing. But the Wings failed to convert with the man advantage, missing a great opportunity to get back into the game.
With less than four minutes left, Belton earned his hat trick by scoring into an empty net while Miller attempted to get back into the goal after coming off for the extra attacker. Toronto’s Scott Johnston scored 17 seconds later before Crowley completed his hat trick by scoring on Rock backup goalie Zack Boychuk with 1:54 left before he scored again with 0.1 seconds left with the game already decided.
Doyle led the Rock with seven points (1+6), Sanderson had five points (4+1), Garrett Billings (1+3) and Stephan Leblanc (0+4) both added four points.
Crowley had a team-high five points (4+1) for the Wings, while Rabil (1+2) and Westervelt (1+2) each had three points. Miller finished with 38 saves on 50 shots in the losing effort.
Toronto went 2-for-3 on the power play while Philadelphia was 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
“You’ve got to score over 50 percent [on power play opportunities],” Mouradian said. “You get back in the game through transition opportunities and penalty situations.
The Rock have won three of their last four games and host the Edmonton Rush at Air Canada Centre on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET while the Wings will have the weekend off.
“It’s a new season right now for us," Mouradian said. "We’ve got a good opportunity here with our bye week to get our injuries where we need to be. I think I can look at this lacrosse club and say there was no shortage of effort."