Rock Fall Out Of Playoff Spot, ‘Rox Stay Alive

Photos courtesy of M40 Images

Last night was one of the most exciting end to end games I’ve seen in a long while at the Air Canada Centre. The Toronto Rock, looking to end their two game losing streak faced the surging Chicago Shamrox. The Shamrox had ripped off three wins in a row after acquiring Goaltender Matt Roik from Philadelphia. Roik was stellar in the net again facing 62 shots, and the ‘Rox made it four wins in a row, with a thrilling 13-12 Overtime win.

With their All-Star goaltender Bob Watson injuring himself at work Thursday, Mike Poulin got the start in net for Toronto. It seemed early that Toronto would rally behind their starter jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead. But after the burst of adrenaline to start the game had worn off for Toronto, Chicago found their touch and they themselves went on a 5-0 run to lead after a quarter 5-3.

Toronto would then take what looked like control of the game back in the second quarter, as they outchanced and outscored Chicago 4-2. At the half we were all knotted up at 7 apiece and it was looking to be one of those games that would go down to the wire. And it did.

In the second half, the teams traded the lead a few times, on some noticeable defensive breakdowns. On a few occasions I noticed defensive miscues at both ends, ultimately lead to an offensive player with the ball right in front of the opposing net. It happens in this game I know, but it seemed to happen all night, and the shooters had lots of time time to plan their shot; not good for the goalies!

Having said that, I will say that with Roik facing 62 shots and Poulin facing 49, the goaltending was good enough at both ends for their respective teams to win the game.

Chicago captain Mat Giles had a big night scoring 3 goals, including the winner 1:31 into the 5th frame. Jason Clark, Jonas Derks, and Cody Jacobs all had 2 goals, as did Brad Self playing in his first game this season after finishing up with his Pro Hockey team in Europe.

For Toronto, Blaine Manning had 3 goals and 2 each went to Ryan Benesch, and Derek Suddons who I thought had a great game. Lewis Ratcliff had 1 goal and 5 assists.

The loss really hurts Toronto, and at the same time keeps Chicago in contention for a playoff spot in the crazy Eastern Division. Toronto drops down to sixth place in the East, while Chicago remains in seventh, but they have a couple of games in hand on many of the teams in the division (including Toronto).

Next week, Toronto travels to Calgary while Chicago goes to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Titans.

Our post game interview with Chicago’s Jonas Derks is below:

[livevideo id=30787B449E5142E5B6268C186A1D8A8B]

Other Game Notes:

– Toronto hit by our count 8 posts on the night; Blaine Manning hitting six himself. The last one was with under a second remaining in regulation time that would have gotten Toronto the win.
– Derek Suddons scored twice, and moved the ball up the floor well for the Rock; Scott Campbell also scored for Toronto.
– Brad Self really showed in his first game that he will be a huge asset for Chicago in the next few weeks. Self scored twice (while adding three assists) and also transitioned very well for the Shamrox.
– Jason Clark was the setup man for Chicago with a couple of goals and five assists; Lewis Ratcliff setup five for Toronto and scored one
– with a total of 111 combined shots on net, it is a good indication of the pace of the game, and the fact that the refs let them play.
– good luck figuring out the possible Playoff scenarios in the Eastern Division.

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