ROCK CLIPS PHILADELPHIA’S WINGS
With the play offs within sight, the Rock were looking to keep with them within reach hosting the Philadelphia Wings. The last time the teams met in January, the Wings managed to squeak out a 10-9 win at the Wachovia Center in Philly. With the loss nothing but a bitter memory, the Rock were looking to even the season series at one a piece. Sporting a new home look playing in their charity third jerseys, Toronto would clip the Wings early in an impressive first half to move up in the standings and maintain their post season hopes with a 15-6 win.
The Rock controlled the game from the start. The Rock needed to score to keep it tight in the play off race and they did not disappoint this night.
The story for the game was the Rock’s first half performance. Toronto would start by scoring on their first possession 11 seconds into the game on a great individual effort by Kevin Fines. That would begin the scoring barrage that saw eight straight goals for the home team. That scoring streak saw reigning NLL Rookie of the Week Ryan Benesch and Rock vet Josh Sanderson proving their nicknames of Bullet and Shooter were not flukes with both players putting up hat tricks. The scoring was largely due to great ball movement that led to great shot opportunities, usually from inside ten feet of the Wing’s net in spite of a goalie change at the 10:15 mark. The first half saw Toronto play one of its best offensive performances seemingly scoring at will and at times looked to be toying with the Wings. In the second half, the Rock would continued the scoring and kept the offensive intensity up putting in seven more exciting goals maintaining their earlier form. The Rock were also aided by the twelve Philadelphia power plays leading to the home team converting on seven.
Not to be outdone, the Rock defense was equally impressive. The Rock were aggressively chasing down the Wings in the first half when they had the ball in the Toronto zone. The Wings were helpless against the Rocks energized blanket defense that held Philadelphia to 17 shots on goal in the first half holding them scoreless. The second half was not much different. The Rock would maintain the defensive energy holding the Wings scoreless for the last 8 minutes of the third quarter taking away any momentum from Philadelphia
The Wings would not go down without a fight. They seemed to look refreshed after halftime managing to score in the third quarter putting in three showing signs of life. Philadelphia would manage to score all six of their goals in the second half, but were not able to recover from the scoreless first.
Bob Watson, who held a .003 lead as the NLL save percentage leader, was impenetrable in the half stopping everything that managed to get by the Toronto defensemen. Watson would total 43 saves on the game, adding a great assist for a break away goal in the third, to earn the win.
The Rock were lead on the stat sheet by Ryan Benesch who accounted for four goals and three assists for seven total points. Josh Sanderson and Aaron Wilson followed with six points each, both on three goals and three assists.
The Wings were led by Rob Van Beek who tallied three points (1 goal, 2 assists), followed by Sean Greenhalgh (two assists) and Dan Marohl (two goals).
Philadelphia goaltender Ken Montour would record the loss.
The Rock (6-7) move one game closer to a potential NLL play off spot with tonight’s victory. Toronto’s next game is Friday April 6th against the Minnesota Swarm at the Air Canada Centre as they maintain their hunt for the post season.