The Toronto Rock found the spark they needed with a new goaltender in net.
Toronto played its best game of the National Lacrosse League season in support of newly-acquired Nick Rose and defeated the Rochester Knighthawks 13-7 on Saturday night.
Rose allowed only one first-half goal in his first professional start. Coach Troy Cordingley had hoped for this kind of determined effort from his players when, after three straight losses, general manager Terry Sanderson released veteran Matt Roik on Monday and acquired Rose from Calgary for a draft pick.
“We had something to prove,” said Cordingley. “We got booed off the floor by our fans last game and rightly so because we were God-awful.
“There are a lot of guys in our room who have a lot of pride, character and heart. Enough is enough — we talked about it all week, and they came out and proved they are better than they'd been showing.”
Dan Carey and Colin Doyle scored three goals each for the Rock (5-6), while Brendan Thenhaus, Garrett Billings and Kasey Beirnes got two each and Stephan Leblanc added one.
Rose, a backup in Boston for three years and in Calgary this year, got one previous win in relief earlier in his career. He participated in his first Rock practice on Tuesday after flying in from Coquitlam, B.C., where he has been living.
“It was a hectic few days,” he said. “That's the life of an NLLer, I guess.
“Our defencemen played incredible tonight. They put on a show. I'm grateful they played that well.”
Jarrett Davis, Craig Point and Cody Jamieson scored two each and Mark Vitarelli got one for the Knighthawks (5-6).
Toronto took second place in the East ahead of Rochester on the strength of sweeping the season series 3-0 and gaining the standings tiebreaker.
“It was embarrassing in front of our home crowd,” said Knighthawks captain Pat McCready. “It was a terrible effort on our part.”
It was an odd first quarter as Davis scored the only goal at 10:06 by wildly flinging the ball in while lying on his back after being checked to the floor. The second quarter was weird too as Toronto got all five of the goals that were scored. The Rock then pulled away.
Toronto had a 55-35 advantage in shots on goal.
The defencemen deserved the spotlight as much as Rose.
“We had a new goalie coming in so we wanted to play some strong defence,” said Cam Woods. “We haven't been playing up to our capabilities so it was something we wanted to focus on. This is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Jamieson was held at bay until the late going when his two goals meant squat.
“We made it a point to get on him early,” said Damon Edwards. “We applied a lot of pressure, and that's our defence, putting him into situations he doesn't want to be in. We did well on him.”
Carey had his most productive night since joining the Rock for the 2012 campaign.
“We moved the ball real well as a team,” he said. “When we move the ball like that and move our feet like that, everybody can contribute. It always feels good to contribute. You have expectations for yourself and you want to live up to them and make sure you're contributing whether it be goals, assists or loose balls. It feels good to contribute.”
Notes: Billings picked up six assists for an eight-point night . . . Rochester's Stephen Keogh and Toronto's Stephen Hoar dropped the gloves and punched it out with four seconds left . . . Toronto was 4-for-8 and Rochester 0-for-4 on power plays . . . Rock lineup deletions: Josh Sanderson (upper body injury), Glen Bryan and Scott Johnston. Phil Sanderson was back in after missing four with a strained neck . . . Knighthawks scratches: Travis Hill, Tim O'Brien and Alex Kedoh Hill . . . Toronto won previous meetings 13-11 Jan. 27 and 16-12 Feb. 24, both at home . . . Next Rock game is next Saturday night in Buffalo . . . Next Knighthawks game is next Saturday afternoon at home against Colorado.