The Toronto Rock are moving on after a dominating 18-10 win over the New England Black Wolves on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. A 9-1 run that began in the second quarter and ran through to the early part of the fourth quarter fueled the Rock win. The Rock now move on to play the Georgia Swarm in the East Division Final two-game series, beginning next Saturday night with game one at Air Canada Centre at 7 p.m.
Toronto’s offence put up 18 goals just a week after scoring 19 goals in last weekend’s big regular season finale win over Buffalo that clinched the team a home start to the 2017 NLL Playoffs.
“We felt that we would be able to create some offence against New England and we thought that our transition game would pay dividends,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer. “We had a lot of guys step up tonight and that’s what happens at this time of year and that’s what you need to be successful.”
Kasey Beirnes put the Rock on the board at 2:27 of the first quarter. Damon Edwards, in transition, increased the lead to 2-0. Reilly O’Connor and Kevin Crowley scored 27 seconds apart to tie the game by 7:56. Tom Schreiber then traded goals with Kevin Buchanan and Brett Bucktooth for a 4-4 tie. After Crowley put the Black Wolves on top 5-4 with his second goal, head coach Matt Sawyer pulled starter Nick Rose in favour of Brandon Miller. Edwards’ second goal tied the game at five but Chad Culp gave the Black Wolves a 6-5 edge after the first.
The Rock took command of the game in the second quarter, scoring four while shutting out the Black Wolves. Brett Hickey scored on a power play, followed by captain Brodie Merrill off the face-off. Jesse Gamble then flew at the crease to score. Hickey picked up his second power play goal, taking a pass from Bradley Kri as he got into the Black Wolves zone alone.
Toronto increased their lead in the third quarter. Schreiber completed his hat trick just 2:23 into the frame. Shawn Evans got one back for New England but two more from the Rock put them up 12-7. Dan Linter grabbed a pass from Schreiber and put a behind the back shot past Kirk. Reid Reinholdt got past the defence for a nifty goal.
Stephan Leblanc scored the Rock’s 13th goal 2:15 into the final quarter. Schreiber followed it up with his fourth of the game. Shawn Evans and Jay Thorimbert sandwiched another Leblanc marker as the Black Wolves showed a bit of life. The Wolves replaced Evan Kirk with Doug Jamieson after the Rock’s 15th goal but promptly pulled him for an extra attacker. Merrill scored his second into an empty net and Jeff Gilbert also picked up a goal. Kasey Beirnes scored a late power play goal. Sheldon Burns scored with six seconds left but the crowd was already celebrating.