Rock halt last-minute push for 11-10 win

The Toronto Rock had history working against them on Saturday night, but even with a hungry Colorado Mammoth squad scrapping for their first win of the 2018-19 campaign, the Rock managed to secure an 11-10 victory.

It was a tale of two quarters in the first half. Toronto led 3-1 after the first frame on the strength of goals from Rob Hellyer, Kieran McArdle, and Creighton Reid. Colorado would come back with a four-goal second, highlighted by two power-play markers from Stephen Keogh and Ryan Benesch. The teams went into the break deadlocked at five.

Although the Rock were only able to nab two goals to end the half, they were both things of beauty. Brock Sorensen would force an over-and-back violation before converting in transition.

Then, Johnny Powless scored one of the goals of the early season after throwing a behind-the-back shot that beat Colorado starter Dillon Ward.

The teams each netted a pair of goals in the third quarter, with both Toronto markers coming from Adam Jones, who was originally taken third overall by the Mammoth in 2011.

The heat was turned up in the final frame, as both teams began amping up the physicality. Ryan Benesch would give the Mammoth their second lead of the game just 2:30 into the fourth. It would be short-lived, however, as the Rock would go on a three-goal run, capped off by a power-play marker from second-year man Dan Craig.

The teams would swap goals, with Hellyer giving Toronto a two-goal lead with 5:39 to play.

Jacob Ruest would cut the lead to one with just over two minutes to go, but the Mammoth couldn’t find the back of the net with the goalie pulled.

Ward faced more rubber in this game than he had in his previous two starts combined. Toronto peppered him with 68 shots on the night but only fired at a 16 percent clip. Rose was strong in the Rock net once again, stopping 32 shots. He now sits third in the NLL with a .793 save percentage.

Once again, Hellyer (3G, 2A, 17 shots), Schreiber (1G, 5A, 13 shots), and Jones (2G, 3A, 9 shots) were the catalysts for the Rock. Second-year man Dan Craig also scored a goal and added three assists.

Ruest led the way offensively for Colorado, posting a hat trick and two assists. Benesch and Eli McLaughlin each added two goals apiece.

“That’s the reality of this league, games are often tied late or one team is up by a goal, so you need to be able to learn from these experiences,” Rock head coach Matt Sawyer said postgame. “This is a big win for us. This has historically been a tough place for this team to get a win. We knew we would get their best and we were able to persevere and get our third win of the season.”

The Rock will return home on Friday to face the Georgia Swarm for the second time this season. They came out on the losing end of the last matchup and will be looking to make it two straight home wins following their overtime victory over the Philadelphia Wings.

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