Game report: Rochester 17 @ Toronto 9

So, that game sucked.

The first quarter wasn’t bad. Nick Rose was playing pretty well and only allowed one goal, Colin Doyle had a hat-trick, things were looking pretty good. It wasn’t great, in that nobody other than Doyle was able to score, but hey, it’s Matt Vinc so you can’t expect much better. The fact that so many shots were missing the net entirely was a little worrisome, but that’ll get better, right? Well no, not really.

The Knighthawks came out stronger in the second, taking the lead halfway through the quarter. Again, Doyle seems to be the only Rock player who can solve Vinc, but then Steph Leblanc scores a couple and Patrick Merrill pulls a Geoff Snider and scores right off the face-off. The Rock have the lead back again, the Knighthawks momentum has been stopped, and things are looking good again, right? Well no, not really.

Out of nowhere, Rochester scores four within two minutes and while it may not have had an effect on Nick Rose’s confidence, it certainly affected that of all the fans near me. Suddenly the Rock are losing going into halftime, and whatever momentum there is belongs to Rochester. After halftime, that momentum continued for the Knighthawks, as they reeled off another seven in a row, leading many a Rock fan in attendance to wonder “wasn’t it 7-5 for the Rock at one point?” I know I’ve seen the Rock come back to win a game that they were losing by 7 in the fourth quarter, and I think they’ve come back from a deficit of 8 once. But not against Matt Vinc and the Rochester defense. And not the way the Rock were playing on this night.

The Rock D just didn’t have an answer for the Knighthawks offense. Maybe it’s that the Rock defenders aren’t all that big – of the twelve D or T players on the Rock, only AJ Masson and Craig England are over 200 pounds. Compare that with the Knighthawks – of their 12 D or T players, only four are under 200 pounds, and one of those is 197.

The Rock rookies have been playing pretty well this year – mainly O’Connor, England, and Lum-Walker – but O’Connor and England (Lum-Walker was sent to the practice roster when Merrill returned) really did look like rookies in this game, making silly mistakes, getting easily beaten by forwards, and taking dumb penalties; particularly England who after serving a two-minute penalty, left the penalty box, ran across the floor, checked Cody Jamieson across the back, and returned to the penalty box. The two teams played 5-on-5 for seven seconds before Rochester was back on the PP.

But to be fair, some of the Rock veterans played like rookies as well. I’m not sure I’ve ever had occasion to say this before, but Garrett Billings did not have a good night at all. He scored once, near the end of the game, but otherwise he was missing the net (by several feet at times), missing passes, dropping the ball when nobody was around him, all kinds of things. He just didn’t look good.

So the days of the Rock hosting the Knighthawks and expecting to win because they always have are gone, as are the days of the Rock expecting to lose in Rochester. The Rock are no longer undefeated at home, and the Knighthawks are no longer winless on the road. Next week Minnesota comes to town, and then a couple of weeks after that it’s the Knighthawks again.

Other game notes:

  • Patrick Merrill returns and Scott Johnston continues taking face-offs? Well, he took the opening one and then 9 more, while Merrill took 18. AJ Masson and Sandy Chapman took one each as well. As a whole, they won 33% of them. Someone on the IL Indoor message boards talked about acquiring Jordan MacIntosh from Minnesota. This would be an expensive acquisition (at least a first round draft pick, if not two) but how great would it be to have him, Gamble, and Edwards on transition?
  • The Rock announced the game’s three stars after the game – Jamieson, Keogh, and Dawson. What? No Matt Vinc? Have to disagree there. My three would have been Vinc, Keogh, and Jamieson.
  • Nick Rose allowed 14 of the 17 Rochester goals, including 10 of their 11 in a row. They really didn’t think after he’d allowed, say, 6 in a row and the team went from winning by 2 to losing by 4 that maybe it was time for a change? Was it because they are overconfident in Rose’s ability to stop the bleeding or because they lack confidence in Boychuk, who I thought did a fine job in relief?
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