Oh, What a Feeling: Rock Win Home Opener
Hamilton, ON - The Rock City faithful waited 636 days, but the wait was certainly worth it as Dan Dawson scored the tying and game winning goals in Toronto's 10-9 thrilling victory over the Albany FireWolves on Saturday night at the team's new home, the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, ON.
"It was an exciting night there and the place was hopping," said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer of the 8,043 fans that were nothing short of electric all night long. "It was good to come out that game with the win, it was hard fought, and we faced some adversity."
Rob Hellyer scored the historic first goal of the season, staking the Rock to an early 1-0 lead. However, the back-and-forth battle was just beginning, and Albany forged ahead to lead 4-3 at the end of the first.
With Toronto trailing 5-4, the Rock got on a 2-goal run to end the half with a 6-5 advantage. The go-ahead goal came on the last shot of the half, Dan Craig doing the damage with a shade less than two ticks left on the clock.
The two teams were even in the third quarter, setting up a thrilling final 15 minutes, the Rock still up by a goal, 7-6.
The home side struck for a power play goal early in the fourth quarter to stretch their lead to a pair. It was Schreiber's fourth goal of the game and his third power play tally of the night. Rock defender Mitch de Snoo was flagged for an illegal body check that earned him a 5-minute major and a game misconduct and sent Albany to the power play. The FireWolves scored twice to tie the game 8-8.
Albany's Andrew Kew scored that tying goal and subsequently the go-ahead goal to put the visitors up 9-8. But it was time to cue the heroics from Dan Dawson.
With 5:31 to play he blew the roof off of Rock City, tying the game at 9-9. From there, the NLL legend just seemed destined to score the big goal, something he has done so many times in his before brilliant career. Sure enough, Dawson put the Rock ahead to stay with 2:32 to go, and the roof was blown off Rock City yet again.
"They were rockin' tonight, and it was loud," said Dawson of the fans. "When we went on that little run of two goals and that third one went in. It was bumpin', it was great, talk about embracing us in this new town. What a great city."
Dawson's game winning goal also carried some history with it as his 528th career goal snuck him past Rock legend, and now Associate Coach, Colin Doyle for 4th on the NLL All-Time Goals list.
Special teams were a big part of tonight's storyline. The Rock capitalized on five of six chances with the man advantage while the FireWolves cashed in on three of five opportunities. That kind of power play prowess was something the Rock failed to exhibit very often during the 19-20 season, hopefully it's a positive trend that will develop.
Nick Rose did his job and then some. Holding a team to under ten goals is quite often a recipe for success in the NLL, and he cooked up a delicious treat for his teammates on this night with 34 saves on 43 shots. But most importantly, he allowed one less than the guy at the other end of the floor in 19-20 NLL goaltender of the year, Doug Jamieson.
The Rock will have little time to celebrate as they will practice on Tuesday night at the TRAC and then board a flight for Halifax on Thursday night ahead of their matchup with the Thunderbirds the next night. Many prognosticators projected that the team from the East coast was the team to beat this season and, in their opener, they knocked off another very good team in the Saskatchewan Rush in overtime. This will be a marquee matchup very early in the season that will have playoff implications, without a doubt.
The Rock's next home game will be on Saturday, December 18th when they host the Philadelphia Wings. The team will host its first ever teddy bear toss presented by Cogeco and supporting the United Way. Tickets for the game are available at ticketmaster.ca and torontorock.com.
For more information on Toronto Rock Season Memberships, please contact a Toronto Rock account executive at 416-596-3075 or visit torontorock.com.
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National Lacrosse League Stories from December 4, 2021
- Oh, What a Feeling: Rock Win Home Opener - Toronto Rock
- Panther City Lacrosse Club Falls 12-11 to Wings in Franchise Opener - Panther City Lacrosse Club
- Riggers Fall to Bandits 16-9 - Calgary Roughnecks
- FireWolves Fall to Rock in Opening Game Thriller - Albany FireWolves
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- What to Watch for vs. Albany FireWolves - Toronto Rock
- Rochester Knighthawks Game Preview: Saturday, December 4 at New York - Rochester Knighthawks
- Seals Drop Back-And-Forth Affair - San Diego Seals
- Warriors Open with 8-7 Thriller in San Diego - Vancouver Warriors
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