January 2, 2018 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Toronto Rock
Toronto, ON - The Toronto Rock (1-2) overpowered the Buffalo Bandits (1-2) by a score of 20-13 on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. It was the first win of the season for Toronto after starting the season with a pair of losses and Rock fans also saw the first career goals for rookies Drew Belgrave and Dan Craig, who finished the night with a pair. Newcomer Sheldon Burns also scored his first goal in a Rock uniform after being acquired before Christmas from New England.
The Rock only scored nine goals in each of its first two outings this season for a total of 18 goals for. On Saturday night, they topped the 18-goal mark with just over four minutes to play in the final quarter.
"Once we had a few goals there in a row, we felt the confidence and momentum," said Rock forward Adam Jones who finished the night as the Rock's top point-getter with 4 goals, 5 assists and 9 points.
The Bandits opened the scoring but the Rock responded with two goals to take a 2-1 lead just over five minutes into the first quarter. The teams traded goals back and forth, but the Rock blew open the game with a three goal run to take a 6-3 lead after one.
That run continued in the second quarter with another two goals and an 8-3 Rock lead. The Bandits closed the gap slightly heading into halftime, but Toronto held a 12-8 lead at the break. Tom Schreiber scored the highlight reel goal of the night early in the second quarter. He came around the net, had his helmet knocked off, switched hands from right to left and buried a low shot that chased Bandits started Alex Buque from the game.
Toronto scored the first two goals of the second half and never looked back. Buffalo would never get any closer than down by three goals as the Rock went on to post their first win of the season.
The Rock offence was dynamic and diverse. But it was also great to see the likes of Jones (4+5), Rob Hellyer (3+4) and Tom Schreiber (3+4) all have the type of big nights that were expected of them when the season began. The Rock also got a pair of goals from defender Challen Rogers who was making his season debut after recovering from shoulder surgery. Craig and Brett Hickey each had a pair of goals, while singles came from Kieran McArdle, Brock Sorensen, Belgrave and Burns.
"It doesn't matter what we do up front," said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer when explaining just how good the Rock's transition game was tonight. "We're always going to push the ball and we challenged (the transition players) to get back to doing that. We put more of an emphasis on it and that's just the way this game is and you have to have transition. Tonight we were outstanding in that area."
Nick Rose went the distance in goal for the Rock earning his first win of the season along with his teammates. He stopped 39 of the 52 shots he faced.
Toronto will travel to Vancouver to take on the 0-3 Stealth next Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre. Fans can watch the game live at 10:00 p.m. ET on NLLTV.com.
Toronto Rock season and single game tickets are on sale now. For more information, please visit torontorock.com/tickets or call 416-596-3075.