A late penalty nearly derailed a game that the Toronto Rock led throughout, however, their penalty kill held strong in crunch time and the hosts walked out of Friday’s matchup against the San Diego Seals with a 12-11 victory.
The first half was a rarity for the Rock, as Tom Schreiber, Rob Hellyer, and Adam Jones all failed to put the ball in the back of the net. Regardless, Toronto’s secondary scorers contributed with eight goals through two frames.
In the first, Johnny Powless and Dan Lintner scored, while second-year man Dan Craig netted a pair of beautiful goals.
Nick Rose and the Rock defence would come up big, holding the Seals to just two goals in the first frame. Those markers came from Casey Jackson and former Rock player Turner Evans.
Craig would complete his hat trick and Powless would net another goal in the second quarter. Toronto would also get transition goals from Brandon Slade and Damon Edwards. San Diego would answer back with goals from Jackson, Garrett Billings, and Brandon Clelland.
San Diego would begin to close the gap in the second half. They’d score three-straight goals midway through the third quarter, but Toronto would halt the run with their own pair of tallies. Heading into the final frame, the Rock would hold an 11-10 lead.
The two teams would start to ramp up the intensity in the fourth quarter, as five penalties were called in the period. The biggest of which was called on Rock forward Adam Jones. The lefty drove the crease in search of a goal with 2:32 to play. Instead, he ended up in the penalty box with a five-minute major for goaltender interference.
Toronto managed to kill off the opening minute of the penalty without many high-danger opportunities conceded. In the final minute, the Rock got the ball and a chance to kill time off the clock. The offence did that and more, grabbing a loose ball off a rebound at the end of the possession, awarding them an extra 30 seconds. Challen Rogers would rag the ball while dealing with a double team, but San Diego would regain possession with 13 seconds left.
With the final possession of the game, a Rock defender would block the first attempt on goal by the Seals. The biggest moment, however, came as Dan Dawson somehow waltzed in on goal with under five seconds to go. Despite the scramble in his crease, Rose was up to the task, stoning Dawson cold to seal the victory.
“That’s one of those situations where it’s a little hectic and obviously, you know what’s on the line if you give up a goal. So we weren’t about to make an excuse of being in the penalty box. We just had to find a way to make a few more stops and let that clock run out,” Rose said postgame.
The Toronto Rock starter continued his strong run of play, stopping 45 of 56 shots he faced on the night. He was visibly fired up following the final horn, as he ran out of the crease and pumped up the home faithful.
“That emotion there … it’s just I’ve played in this league long enough to know how big every win is and that (game) could’ve gone the other way. So I think I was just letting out some happiness there,” Rose said of his celebration.
His counterpart, Frank Scigliano, also had a fantastic night, making 47 saves. Unfortunately for him, the Rock were able to get just one more shot to fall.
Schreiber was the offensive leader for the Rock, finishing with a goal and four assists. Craig (3 G, 1 A), Powless (2 G, 1 A), Lintner (2 G, 1 A), and Jones (0 G, 3 A) all pitched in with solid performances. Lintner would score one of the goals of the night with a diving effort from behind the net.
Jackson had one of the best nights of his career, scoring four goals and adding an assist. Billings had just a single goal but added four helpers. Austin Staats (1 G, 3 A), Kyle Buchanan (1 G, 3 A), and Dawson (0 G, 4 A) also had solid outings.
The Rock finished with a slight advantage in the faceoff dot, winning 14 of 27 on the night.
For the Seals, they drop to 4-4 on the year with their second consecutive loss. Following a bye week, they’ll face the Vancouver Warriors for the third and final time. The two teams have split the season series.
Toronto has now pushed it’s impressive winning streak to six games. They’ll head on the road for their next two games, facing off with the New England Black Wolves before heading out west for an all-Canadian showdown with the Calgary Roughnecks.