The Rochester Knighthawks (5-2) earned their first road win of the season by defeating the Toronto Rock (3-4), who dropped their first home game this year, by a score of 17-9 before a crowd of 10,279 at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
Rochester forwards Cody Jamieson, Dan Dawson and Stephen Keogh scored a combined 27 points to help lift the Knighthawks past the Rock for the second time this season. Rochester's 17 goals is their highest total in a single game this year.
“Offensively, we were good. We didn't waste too many shots,” said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen. “We made good on our opportunities.”
Rochester, regarded with a struggling offence heading into Saturday, went on an 11-0 run spanning from mid way through the second quarter to just over a minute prior to the final whistle of the third. The stretch was the clear difference in the game and shed a positive light to an otherwise snakebitten offensive group. Prior to the win, Rochester had never scored more than 13 goals in a game.
“[Goal scoring] is not an issue for us because we do so many little things well. We get a lot of opportunities and they were finally falling tonight,” said Hasen.
After a quiet start that saw 6:27 of scoreless play, Rock captain Colin Doyle opened the game's scoring potting a pair a goals in span of 58 seconds. Just 26 seconds later, Rochester forward Mike Accursi cut the Rock's lead in half scoring his fourth goal on the year. Doyle capped off the quarter scoring his hat trick goal with exactly one minute remaining to give Toronto a 3-1 lead.
Rochester swayed the game's momentum in the second frame by scoring eight goals on just 14 shots. While Toronto goalie Nick Rose struggled in the frame, Rochester netminder Matt Vinc stood tall only allowing four tallies on 19 shots. Over the quarter's first 7:50, Rochester climbed on top 5-4 after going on a 4-1 run. Cody Jamieson (2), Joe Walters and Stephen Keogh each scored for Rochester during the stretch.
The Rock answered back and regained a 7-5 lead scoring three quick goals in a span of 32 seconds. Stephan Leblanc scored his 18th and 19th goals on the season while Patrick Merrill potted his first. Rochester, over the half's final 2:22, scored four answered goals to put them up 9-7 heading into the second half.
Extending their 4-0 run, Rochester piled on another seven straight goals during the third frame. The Rock finally countered when Rob Hellyer scored his tenth of the year on a Josh Sanderson feed with 1:26 left in the quarter. The goal broke a 19:47 Rock goaless draught, their longest of the season. Rochester led 16-8 heading into the final frame.
The fourth quarter proved to be the quietest of all as each team scored just a goal each. Rochester's Joe Walters and Toronto's Garrett Billings were the goal scorers.
The loss for the Rock is their first on home floor where they've been fantastic this season. Early on, Toronto looked poised to close out another good effort at the Air Canada Centre, but seven straight goals allowed in the third quarter put a halt to any hope for a win.
“We got off to a good start, but defensively we let the game get away from us,” said Rock head coach John Lovell. “[Rochester] had too much time to do what they do well.”
In the third frame alone, Rochester amounted 18 shots, most of which came inside twenty feet of the net. Jamieson, who scored five tallies on the night, found space in and around the slot and and didn't fail to capitalize.
“Part of our offensive plan was to limit the outside shots and get in close. We did a good job of that tonight,” said Jamieson. “We got them spread out a bit and we cut to the middle. We were happy to be open.”
Knighthawks goalie Vinc was stellar in goal making 45 saves on 54 Rock shots for a .833 save percentage. For the Toronto meanwhile, the load was shared between Rose and backup goaltender Zak Boychuk. Rose got the start in goal, but was eventually pulled after Jamieson's fifth goal 2:06 into the third quarter. The two allowed 17 goals combined on 46 shots for a .630 save percentage.
“We've got to move on,” said Doyle, who was one of Toronto's lone bright spots in the loss. “The coaches got to look at the film and tell us what we did wrong and we need to fix it. And we better.”
Saturday's loss also marks the first time Rose was pulled from goal this season. The three year starter for the Rock had played 399 straight minutes in goal before being replaced by Boychuk in the third frame.
“It was absolutely not a message to Nick Rose, it was more a move of frustration to wake some of our guys up on the bench,” said Lovell. “Rose has bar none been our most valuable player this season.”
Jamieson (5+5) and Dawson (ten assists) lead all shooters with 10 points each on the night. Keogh (4+3) followed up with seven points of his own.
Doyle (4+1) led all Rock scorers with five points in the loss. Billings (1+3) and Leblanc (2+2) each scored four points on the night.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Cody Jamieson
2) Dan Dawson
3) Stephen Keogh
The Rock are faced with yet another divisional matchup next Saturday when they host the Minnesota Swarm on the tail end of a three game home stand. Rochester meanwhile will play game two of a three game road trip when they head to Calgary next weekend.