Rock “Knighted” vs. ‘Hawks In First Place Showdown

The much anticipated first place showdown Saturday night between the Toronto Rock and Rochester Knighthawks was anything but a barn burner.

On the strength of big efforts by red hot rookie Garrett Billings (5 goals), and captain Colin Doyle (1 goal, 6 assists), the Rock blasted the Hawks by a 17-3 final score. On a night when Rock owner Jamie Dawick announced a donation to the Haiti relief fund of $1000 per goal, the players responded, and the crowd showed their support on each marker.

The game started with Toronto scoring three goals in just over five minutes. The Rock would apply pressure at both ends of the floor and held a 6-0 lead after a quarter. That chased starter Pat O’Toole from the Rochester net with Aaron Bold coming on in relief.

Unfortunately for Rochester, the goaltending change did not stop any of the momentum Toronto had built up. The Rock would outscore the Hawks 3-1 in the second quarter and held a 9-1 halftime lead.

The third and fourth quarters of the game saw the return of O’Toole to the Hawks net, but the results were no different with Toronto outscoring Rochester 8-2. Bob Watson was solid for the second straight week in net for Toronto.

As I suggested earlier in the week, Toronto needed to employ the “in your face” style of defence that they have shown the first two weeks of the season to stop Rochester’s fire power. And they executed that to perfection on this night. Rochester shooters had no time to make decisions, and when stars John Grant or Gary Gait had the ball, they were almost always double teamed and were forced into many offensive turnovers.

As much as scoring 17 goals should be applauded, it really is time to give notice to the Rock defenders. What a difference a change in philosophy and a few bodies can make. Phil Sanderson had an unsung hero type night, covering John Grant most of the evening. Grant finished with 1 goal. Sandy Chapman, Jeff Gilbert, Cam Woods, and Scott Campbell all looked stellar.

I am unsure if Rochester is really as slow as they looked or if Toronto really is as fast and tenacious as they looked but this game was over early. Nothing Rochester was trying worked, and Toronto could do no wrong.

Other Toronto scorers were Kasey Beirnes (3, 0), Mike Hominuck (2,1), Blaine Manning (1,5), Stephan Leblanc (1,3), Cam Woods (1,1), Mike Hobbins (1,1), Pat McCready (1,0), and Jeff Gilbert (1,0). Other Rochester goals were scored by Scott and Shawn Evans.

Other Game Notes:

– Rochester was 0/2 on the PP, Toronto was 4/6
– attendance was 10,104 at the ACC on the night
– Jeff Gilbert’s goal in the first quarter was officially scored by # 4 at 4:44
– MVP of the game was Toronto goalie Bob Watson
– the two teams will hook up once again next Saturday night at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester
– the Rock will now be donating $17,000 to the Haiti relief fund in what was a very classy move by new Owner Jamie Dawick. If he had not already, this was certainly a move that will prove to fans of the game, he is for real.

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