Game report: Minnesota 12 @ Toronto 14

Well, it was a better result than last week, anyway.

Last week’s Toronto Rock game sucked because the Rock started off playing strong for the first quarter and a half and then not only did they let the Knighthawks get back into it, they let the Knighthawks take complete control. In this week’s game the timing was different and the result was different, but it was similar in that the Rock should have had the game locked up but they let the Swarm get right back into it. They managed to pull off the win, but it ended up being a much closer game than it should have been. However the other big difference is that despite what was at one point a fairly lopsided score, I didn’t think the Rock were in control at all.

There were a few real weirdnesses with this game. Toronto had 13 goals and a nine goal lead in the 3rd quarter and I didn’t think they played all that well. The 1-6 Swarm were losing by 9 and had only scored 4 and weren’t playing all that bad. Nick Rose allowed only 4 goals in the first three quarters and I didn’t think he was all that strong at all, even before his collapse in the 4th.

I don’t even know how to describe the game. Despite the score, I never felt that the Rock were in control. The Minnesota defense is big and strong (Brock Sorensen had a very good game), and the Rock had some trouble getting by them, though perhaps their persistence paid off in that they’d pass around looking for a way to get through and eventually they’d find one. It reminds me of something that Tyler said on a recent Addicted to Lacrosse show about the Vancouver Stealth – they took advantage of the scoring opportunities that they were given, but they didn’t really create any.

Nick Rose was fine for most of the game, but I didn’t think he played great. He made most of the saves you expected him to make (Jordan MacIntosh’s first goal was a bit of a softie), but he still gives up too many rebounds and cannot guard against the behind-the-net Air Gait goals. He’s been burned by those more times than I can remember (thank goodness Drew Westervelt is in the west division now), and on Saturday he gave up three more in the 4th quarter alone, all by Jordan MacIntosh, including two within eleven seconds.

And then there was the comeback. The Rock managed to hold the Swarm to four goals in the first three quarters and scored eight goals in a row within 16 minutes, but then everything turned around. The Swarm held the Rock to a single goal (an empty-netter) in the final quarter, and scored seven straight in 10 minutes and six in the last five minutes of the game. A lot of the fans remembered the Knighthawks game last week and thought “here we go again”. I’m really not sure if the Rock were actually able to stop the bleeding or if Minnesota simply ran out of time, but the last half of the 4th quarter was all Swarm and from a Rock fan point of view, it was not pretty.

Yes, the Rock won the game, and I’m not going to argue that they didn’t deserve to win. But they didn’t dominate a team that was 1-6 and they almost blew it in the last quarter. If they play like that against the Rush and Roughnecks next weekend, we’ll have the makings of an 0-2 weekend.

Other game notes:

  • The first two goals of the game were fairly similar. Logan Schuss takes a shot which Rose stopped, but Brock Sorensen grabbed the rebound and deposited it over Rose who had no chance. A minute and a half later, Josh Sanderon takes a nice pass from Garrett Billings and shoots, Zach Higgins makes an excellent save, but it left him lying down to one side of the net. Stephen Leblanc grabbed the rebound and scored. Just watched the replay on the YouTube feed, and Stephen Stamp said the same thing. You know, great minds and all that.
  • Scott Johnston was in a fight in the 1st quarter, and it looked to me like he spent most of the rest of the first half trying to get in another one. I even predicted on Twitter that he’d finish the game in the dressing room – but it was Billy Hostrawser who did that after getting into his second fight of the game.
  • There are games that are “chippy” and then games that get out of hand, with fights all over the place and such. This game was right in between those – not one of those that bordered on the ridiculous, but “chippy” isn’t quite enough.
  • Andrew Suitor took an instigator penalty in the first quarter, which comes with a game misconduct. How is this a captain-like move? I like Suitor and he’s obviously a great player, but considering their 4th quarter comeback that they weren’t quite able to finish, I doubt the fight he started in the first was really worth his removal from the lineup.

Update: I went back and re-watched the video of the 3rd quarter of this game, and I felt I had to update this article since the Rock really did play well in the third. The defense was strong, Ethan O’Connor’s goal was very nice, Rob Hellyer scored a nice one as well, and Kasey Beirnes was all over the place in the offensive zone. Nick Rose made some great saves though as I’ve said before, he’s more the type to get in the way and make the stop than to make the acrobatic plays that Matt Vinc makes so you may not notice them quite as much. Anyway, I wanted to say that the general theme of the original article (the Rock won despite playing badly and Rose wasn’t great) is not completely true.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch the 4th quarter though.

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