The Toronto Rock (5-7) secured their first road win of the season with an 9-8 overtime victory over the Minnesota Swarm (2-9) before a crowd of 6,628 at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday evening. In a spirited game between division rivals, the Rock took the OT win to run their record to 2-0 against Minnesota this year.
Each quarter provided unique results and eventually led to a Swarm rally that was thwarted in the first three minutes of overtime play when Rock captain Colin Doyle walked in all alone and buried the overtime game winner.
The first quarter for the Rock was all about being first. Toronto was the first to score, the first to serve penalty minutes, the first to kill a power play, the first to score on a power play and eventually secured their first win on the road. The first quarter ended with Toronto on top 5-0.
“Our team played pretty hard,” said Rock head coach John Lovell. “They were focused from the beginning.”
But the resilient Minnesota team came back with a vengeance in the second quarter to outscore the Rock 4-2. Logan Schuss (1+3) led the charge for the Swarm and three unanswered goals were scored by captain Andrew Suitor (1+0), defense Jeff Gilbert (1+1) and transition Kiel Matisz (2+0).
“They don’t have much quit,” Doyle said. “They showed that tonight.”
The third quarter was relatively quiet with the lone goal of the quarter being fired by Toronto’s Garrett Billings (3+2). Things got interesting in the fourth quarter when the Swarm scored four unanswered goals while holding Toronto to the tune of a roaring crowd. Goals scored by Callum Crawford (1+2), Tyler Hass (1+0), Scott Jones (1+2) and Kiel Matisz (2+0 ) tied the game at 8-8 and sent the rival teams into overtime.
“I think we had all the momentum going for us,” said Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan. “We felt good going into overtime.”
In the end, the Rock’s Colin Doyle (3+3) ended the game to give his team their first win at home and hand the Swarm their ninth loss of the season.
“After playing last night and having a tough loss,” said Lovell. “I don’t know if you can get a much more character win than that for us.”
Swarm goalie Tyler Carlson had 32 saves on 38 shots on goal while Rock goalie Nick Rose saved 50 of 58 shots in front of the net. Toronto went 2-for-3 on power play goals with Minnesota going 0-for-1 with the man advantage.
As they prepare for the unclaimed home advantage next week, the young Minnesota team will rely on the character and charisma of their players to show up with a clear mind and physical awareness.
“There’s a lot of character in our dressing room,” said Swarm transition player Kiel Matisz. “We just gotta shake out the dust before we step on the floor for game time.”
A relieved Toronto team welcomes their first win away from home and hopes it will build confidence going into the rest of the season.
“It relieves a lot of pressure off of us,” said Doyle. “Not because of the position we put ourselves in but because we got a win.”
The Rock won their first road game of the year in their sixth try while the Swarm move to 0-4 at "The Hive" this season. It was the first time this year that Toronto held their opponent to under 10 goals.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Colin Doyle
2) Nick Rose
3) Tyler Carlson
Toronto will jump back into action next Saturday when they visit the Philadelphia Wings on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 ET. The Swarm will host the Buffalo Bandits on Sunday, March 24 at 3 p.m. ET.