The Toronto Rock had not beaten the Georgia Swarm on the road since 2017. It took an offensive barrage on Monday to snap that streak and deliver the Rock’s biggest win of the 2019 season at Infinite Energy Arena.
Toronto rattled off five consecutive goals in the second quarter to create a convincing a lead and eventually eliminated Georgia with a 16-14 victory from the NLL Playoffs presented by Michelob Ultra. The Rock advance to play the Buffalo Bandits in the Eastern Division Finals on Saturday at 7:30pm ET.
“While we haven’t had too much success here … they’ve all been real close,” Toronto head coach Matt Sawyer said. “They’re always really good games against Georgia. I like to say it’s a good brand of lacrosse — two good teams play up-tempo. We like playing them and it’s obviously a confidence boost for us to win on the road, and we have to do it again to keep our season alive.”
Georgia led 5-4 after the first quarter, but Toronto mustered five unanswered goals in the second quarter. Toronto led 10-7 at halftime, which was stop-start at times with several long replay reviews.
After Schreiber scored 26 seconds into the third quarter, the offenses were quiet until Toronto rattled off two more in the last five minutes. Georgia got one back from MacIntosh’s stick, but the Swarm were already starting to lose pace.
Toronto had to hold off a Georgia comeback with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Georgia trailed 16-11 after Jones scored an empty-net goal, and Randy Staats, who scored three times in the game, scored 20 seconds after Jones on a power play. It sparked a burst of three Georgia goals in the span of 41 seconds. The extra attacker helped Lyle Thompson and Jackson each score goals, and suddenly, Georgia trailed by just two goals with only a than a minute and change left.
“We certainly weren’t anywhere near our best tonight,” Georgia coach Eddie Comeau said. “But we battled hard to get ourselves into a spot where we had a chance. I think a lot of times you see that where one team is clock watching and trying to watch themselves out of the game with a win, and we’re taking every shot we can.”
With 54 seconds left, Georgia drew up one final play with an extra attacker. Staats, Lyle Thompson and Holden Cattoni rotated the ball but the shot with roughly 26 seconds left was saved by Toronto goaltender Nick Rose and Toronto recovered the loose ball. Playing in his 15th career playoff game, Rose stopped 35 of Georgia’s 49 shots on goal.
The Rock had only hit the 16-goal mark once all season, which was in a February 1st win against Saskatchewan. On Monday night, Adam Jones had 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) while Rob Hellyer (2 goals, 4 assists) and Tom Schreiber (4 goals, 2 assists) both finished with six points. Shayne Jackson led Georgia with 8 points on 2 goals and 6 assists, while Lyle Thompson had 7 points on 3 goals.
Cutting short what would have been Georgia’s third consecutive trip to the East Division Finals, Toronto is back for the first time since 2017, when the Rock were swept 2-0 by the Swarm en route to the 2017 NLL Finals. Toronto will head to Buffalo for a matchup with the Bandits in the Eastern Division Finals on Saturday at 7:30pm ET at the Key Bank Center. Fans can watch this game on B/R Live and Fanseat, and Friday night’s match up where the Mammoth travel to Calgary to take on the Roughnecks at 9:00pm ET at the Scotiabank Saddledome.