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'VNO' Shines as Hawks Knock off Rock

March 31, 2013 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) Rochester Knighthawks

The Rochester Knighthawks defeated the Toronto Rock by a final of 12-8 at The Blue Cross Arena on Saturday night, earning their first regular season win over their Canadian rivals since January 20, 2010.

On the night former Rochester goaltender Pat O'Toole was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame, current netminder Matt Vinc guided the Knighthawks (5-6) to only their second home win of the season. Vinc made 47 saves on 55 shots, including a first-quarter shutout.

"I think we did a good job for the most part defensively getting on their hands and not giving them a lot of easy looks at the net," Vinc said. "Give those guys time and space and they're going to score and they did that a little bit at the end of the game. Overall, I think it was a good team win."

The Rochester defense found itself a man short on seven occasions, including a five-minute boarding major against Craig Point midway through the third quarter. The National Lacrosse League's leading penalty killing unit would limit the Rock (9-5) to a pair of power play goals.

"We were trying to get into lanes and make them do things that they didn't want to do," said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen. "We dictated the pace a little bit, and Vinc came up big, real big. Especially when they have as many power plays as they did, it was good to see Vinc step up."

"Our power play, I think, was pretty miserable tonight," said Rock forward Colin Doyle. "If there's one thing I think we need to go back and look at, I think we had a chance to get back into the game on the power play, but we didn't."

The Rock were able to outgain the Knighthawks 86-52 in loose balls. Their advantage in the loose balls gave the offense plenty of second and third-chance opportunities.

"It's not a number we really want to see," Hasen said. "We do have to get better at that because there were chances where we could have gotten that ball and we didn't. We have to get better at that."

"I thought we had a lot of good chances," said Toronto head coach Troy Cordingley. "It's disappointing but the effort is there. Sometimes on those nights the ball doesn't drop. Again, their goaltender was pretty sensational. I like the effort again, and if we get efforts like that, we are going to be ok."

The Knighthawks gained a 4-0 lead in the first quarter. After an unassisted breakaway from defenseman Ian Llord, Dan Dawson gave Rochester a two-goal cushion. With an assist on Dawson's goal, Mike Accursi earned his 800th career point.

"It's always good to have those personal things, but at the end of the day, nobody remembers how many points you get," said Accursi. "Everybody remembers who many championships you win, and that's my goal."

Cory Vitarelli made it 3-0 with a wraparound goal from behind the net. Accursi then scored the first goal of his hat trick performance with only two seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The Rock wouldn't be held off the scoreboard for long in the second quarter. After a fight between Joel McCready and Patrick Merrill, Garrett Billings cashed in on a power-play goal. He scored another one midway through the quarter to cut the deficit to 4-2. Doyle made it a one-goal game with 3:15 left before the half, but that is the closest Toronto would come.

Leading 5-3 at the half, Accursi and Dawson made it a four-goal advantage to start the third. Vinc nearly shutout the Rock for another whole quarter until Doyle shoveled in a rebound with 1:21.

Up 7-5, Vitarelli, Accursi and McCready each added a goal within a span of 35 seconds. Cordingley replaced Rose with Zack Boychuck following McCready's goal, but the relief goalie quickly allowed a one-timer from Craig Point.

"There was a lot of good ball movement and a lot of good feet movement," Hasen said. "This off week, I think quite a few of them took it to heart the way we were playing. They worked really hard on their own, and tonight, it was good to see."

The Rock would not fall without a fight, as Billings, Josh Sanderson and Scott Evans cut the deficit to 11-8 with consecutive goals less than two minutes apart late in the fourth quarter. Rochester's Brad Self would seal the deal with an empty-netter with only 59 second remaining.

Accursi scored a team-high five points (3+2) for the Knighthawks, followed by four-point efforts from Jamieson (1+3) and Vitarelli (2+2). Dawson (2+1), Self (1+2) and Joe Walters (0+3) each scored three points.

"We we're going to be successful, everyone has to score," Accursi said. "That's our goal. If everybody gets good looks, it's hard to shutdown one guy."

The win and a loss by Philadelphia puts the Knighthawks in sole possession for second place in the East Division, two and a half games behind Toronto and a half game above the Wings. The Knighthawks will host the Wings in their regular season home finale on Native American Night next Saturday, April 6 at 6 p.m. The game will be the NLL's first CBS Sports Network broadcast of the season (DirecTV channel 613, Dish Network channel 158, Time Warner Cable channels 232 and 1027). The game can also be heard on Sportsradio 950 ESPN and on www.sportsradio950espn.com.

"We go out and work hard like we did tonight, it looks good for us the rest of the way," Accursi said.

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