The Toronto Rock (3-3) got back to .500 by doubling up the Philadelphia Wings (3-4) by a score of 20-10 before a crowd of 9,087 at Air Canada Centre on Friday night.
Garrett Billings and Rob Hellyer lift the Rock past the Wings scoring a combined 20 points in a victory that saw Toronto score 20 goals for the first time since 2002.
“It's certainly nice to score 20 goals,” said Rock head coach John Lovell. “I was mostly please with our defense, they were great tonight and I think that was the difference.”
The Rock never allowed more than four goals in a quarter, while scoring no less than four themselves. The biggest flux of Toronto offence came during the second and third frames when the Rock scored 13 goals over the 30 minute stretch.
In a relativity quiet first quarter, Philadelphia forward Tracey Kelusky opened the game's scoring 2:10 after the opening face off. Rock forward Billings, on a solo rush, tied the game at one just 1:03 later. The Rock followed up scoring two powerplay goals, the first coming from Colin Doyle just outside the slot at the 11:09 mark. Billings capped off the frame scoring Toronto's second powerplay tally with 57 seconds remaining, putting the Rock up 3-1.
The Rock found their scoring touch in the second frame notching eight goals, the most in a single quarter since they scored nine against the Buffalo Bandits in 2005. Stephan Leblanc opened the Rock floodgates just 20 seconds in, but Philadelphia quickly answered with a pair of goals coming from forwards Ryan Ward and Pat Saunders over a 40 second stretch. The Rock went on to score three straight as part of 7-2 run to close the first half. The Rock's 11-5 halftime lead is their biggest of the season and the 11 goals is their highest halftime total since the 2012.
Toronto continued their dominance in the second half putting up a staggering nine goals to Philadelphia's five. The Wings' 13-7 deficit at the 4:22 mark of the third frame would be the closest they'd come to the Rock in the second half.
Five Rock players scored six or more points, one of which was youngster Rob Hellyer who had a career high eight points (1+7) in the victory.
“It was fun out there,” said Hellyer. “Everyone was out there working as a team. The end result is everyone is happy.”
Hellyer's eight points brings him to 20 points (9+11) on the year, also a career high. His previous high was 11 points set once in 2011 and again in 2013.
“We made a commitment to him in December and said he's our guy in that spot,” said Lovell.
Toronto rookie Ethan O'Connor scored his first non-empty net NLL goal on the night. His goal came just eight seconds after a Kasey Beirnes tally early in the third quarter. The two goals in eight seconds in the fastest since 2011 when Billings and former defender Kyle Ross accomplished that same feat against the same opponent.
“[The goal] felt good, it feels good to score one on a goalie,” said O'Connor. “It doesn't necessary take the monkey off your back, but it makes the weight lighter.
The Philadelphia loss puts a halt to a mini two-game win streak and drops them to second last in the East Division.
“It was disappointing, we thought we had some momentum going the last few games and just came out flat. We let some complacency creep into our game and they took it to us,” said Wings captain Brodie Merrill.
This loss aside, the Wings have not allowed more than 13 goals in a game and twice they've held their opponent under double digits. Tonight was a completely story. Philadelphia never won a quarter and at no point did they score more than two straight goals.
“There's no real positives in that game,” said Wings forward Kelusky, who recorded his 800th career regular season point on the night.. “We got the taste in our mouths that we got slapped. We have to learn from this.
The Wings will get a chance at redemption tomorrow night when the host the Edmonton Rush in what's sure to be another tall order.
“We have a quick turnaround, we can't dwell on this for too long,” said Merrill. We have to move forward.
Rock goalie Nick Rose was spectacular on the night recording 41 saves on 51 shots for a .804 save percentage. Philadelphia goalies Evan Kirk (started) and Brandon Miller shared the duty in goal. The two combined for a .592 save percentage, only making 29 saves on 49 shots. Miller, whose 31:51 edged Kirk's time in goal, is slated with the loss.
Billings led all scorers with 12 points (6+6) in the victory and his six goal marks his second "sock trick" of his career. Hellyer followed close behind with a career high eight points (1+7) on the night.
Saunders (2+2) and captain Brodie Merrill (1+3) led the way for the Wings with four points each.
The Wings are back in action tomorrow night when they host the undefeated Edmonton Rush. The Rock meanwhile will have a week's rest before hosting the Rochester Knighthawks next Saturday night.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Garrett Billings
2) Stephan Leblanc
3) Colin Doyle