Last weekend, the Toronto Rock pulled out one of their signature wins of the season, killing off a penalty in the final two minutes of regulation to beat the San Diego Seals. On Sunday afternoon, the Rock wound up on the bad end of the same finish, losing 13-11 to the New England Black Wolves.
Toronto came into the contest with a six-game winning streak – headlined by victories over the Georgia Swarm and defending champion Saskatchewan Rush. However, New England would take the game to the Rock immediately, as rookie Dereck Downs (3 G, 0 A) netted a pair of goals in the opening minute of play. Dan Craig (1 G, 1 A) and Johnny Powless (1 G, 0 A) would get those goals back for the Rock, but Dave Emala (1 G, 0 A) potted a goal to give the Black Wolves a 3-2 lead after one quarter.
The second quarter would be a different story, however, as the Rock took control, outscoring the Black Wolves 7-4 in the frame. Adam Jones (2 G, 2 A), Rob Hellyer (2 G, 3 A), and Tom Schreiber (3 G, 3 A) would each get a pair of goals while Dan Lintner (1 G, 1 A) added a single marker. Hellyer would score his second goal of the game with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock.
Both teams would come out of the half stagnant on offence. The third quarter saw just one goal combined. That lone score would come from Schreiber, who had a strong finish on the crease to get a hat trick on his birthday.
The story of the game was undoubtedly third-year goaltender Doug Jamieson, who, along with the New England defence, held the Rock to just two goals in the second half – the second marker came from Challen Rogers 5:59 into the final frame. The 22-year-old made 47 stops on the afternoon, with some of the biggest denials coming at the end of the game.
New England was forced to kill off the final five minutes of play following a major penalty to Callum Crawford for an illegal body check on Brad Kri.
Crawford attempted to set a screen for teammate Tyler Digby, who was rolling to the top of the offensive zone. The Black Wolves forward, instead, launched himself elbow first into Kri’s head, knocking him to the ground.
Despite the massive opportunity, the Rock weren’t able to find the back of the net to finish the contest. Jamieson stymied the attack at every turn and the penalty kill had great rotations to counter the Rock’s ball movement on the man advantage.
“Overall, top to bottom, that’s not going to get it done on the road against a good team, lesson learned hopefully,” Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer said postgame. “We’ll use this game as a lesson and maybe it’s a good reality check for us, but we’ve been pretty good this year and that was the first (game) we haven’t been too happy with our effort and execution.”
It was Jamieson’s fourth time this season making 40 or more saves in a game and the second consecutive contest in which he has done so, according to NLL writer Adam Levi.
Nick Rose made 30 saves but was briefly pulled in the fourth quarter before Rock head coach Matt Sawyer went back to him. Backup Riley Hutchcraft didn’t face a shot in his first taste of game action this year.
The Black Wolves move to 6-4 on the year with the win – now holding victories over two of the top teams in the East Division as well as the Rush. They sit in the fourth and final playoff spot in the east. New England welcomes the Colorado Mammoth to Mohegan Sun Arena for another Sunday matinee next weekend.
Toronto drops to second in the east with the loss. They have a week off before heading out west for a tough matchup with the Calgary Roughnecks on March 9.