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Stories/Op-Ed

Ticket Punched: Rush Playoff-Bound After 13-8 Win Vs. Rock

The Toronto Rock (3-9) dropped the back half of the home and home to the Saskatchewan Rush (9-3) by a score of 13-8 before a crowd of 13,123 at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon on Saturday night. An eight goal second half run by the Rush blew open the game for Saskatchewan.

The question was, would 24 hours be enough to re-fill the tank of the Toronto Rock after a hard fought loss at Air Canada Centre a night earlier to these same Saskatchewan Rush. Already riddled with injuries, the Rock didn’t get any help in that regard early on as Brett Hickey was lost for the night with an upper body injury just moments into the game.

“To lose (Hickey) two, three minutes into the game and leaving us with two (offensive) rights, that hurt us a little bit,” said Rock head coach John Lovell. “We had some guys banged up who probably shouldn’t even been playing tonight, but I don’t have a problem with how our guys played or how our guys competed.”

It was a feisty affair right off the hop with the Rock’s Bill Hostrawser and the Rush’s Nik Bilic squaring off just 16 seconds into the game.  Josh Sanderson got the scoring going, but the two teams traded goals back and forth, ending the first quarter tied 2-2.

In the second quarter, the Rush got it going first but the Rock answered each goal as the game sat tied 4-4 with just seconds remaining in the first half. Stephan Leblanc ran the ball the length of the floor and went straight to the goal and buried a shot past Rush goaltender Aaron Bold with less than a second on the clock. The Rock held the lead, 5-4 at the half.

Toronto’s Turner Evans scored his second goal of the game to give the Rock a 6-4 lead, their biggest edge of the night.  From there, it was all Saskatchewan as the Rush scored six straight goals, all at even-strength, to lead 10-6 after three quarters.

The Rush continued their run, making it eight straight goals 4:17 into the fourth quarter. The home side scored once more, sandwiched between two Rock goals en route to the win.

Rock goal scorers were Josh Sanderson, Rob Hellyer, Leblanc and Evans each with a pair.  The two goals for Evans were the first two goals of his NLL career.

By TorontoRock.com. Photo by Josh Schaefer.

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