ROCK WIN PLAYOFF OPENER 9-6 OVER KNIGTHHAWKS

Nick Rose is the difference in Rock Playoff opener

Hamilton, ON – The Toronto Rock (#1 Seed) defeated the Rochester Knighthawks (#8 Seed) by a score of 9-6 on Saturday night at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, ON.  The Rock have advanced to the NLL Semifinals where they will face the defending NLL champion Buffalo Bandits beginning with game one of the best-of-three series on Friday night at 7:30pm in Rock City.

“It’s not like other sports where you get to play a series and the playoffs come quickly and can be over quickly,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer about the intensity of a one-game first round showdown in the NLL playoffs.  “Essentially, you’re playing to get together for another week and that was our intention all along here, and we came out of the gates really good, and Rochester really pushed us. They have a lot of real good offensive players and put a lot of pressure on us. We did a good job.”

The Rock came out hot as Sawyer mentioned.  Toronto scored four times in 1:38 just over two minutes into the game to jump out to a 4-0 lead.  It wasn’t until late in the quarter that the Knighthawks would score, but the Rock were right there to answer back to close the quarter up 5-1.  Challen Rogers continues his brilliant and impactful play since returning from injury at the beginning of the month.  He scored the first two goals of the game to infuse a jolt of energy into the home crowd that carried them through the opening 15 minutes.

Rochester chipped away in the second quarter, scoring a pair to narrow the gap to 5-3.  With the Rock shorthanded, Tom Schreiber switched hands from his usual righty setup to a lefty look and ripped a rocket to the top right corner with just 21 seconds left in the half to avoid any though that Rochester would start the second half with some momentum.

Nick Rose slammed the door shut on the Knighthawks’ offence in the third quarter and Mark Matthews and Chris Boushy provided the only goals of the frame, both going up on the Rock’s side of the scoreboard to lead 8-3 heading to the final quarter.

Rochester’s star snipers weren’t going to let their team’s playoff hopes fade away easily.  Connor Fields scored early in the quarter to make it a four-goal game, but Dan Craig restored the Rock five-goal lead about five minutes later.  Ryan Smith scored for Rochester with just over five minutes to go to breathe some life back in the Knighthawks.  Josh Jubenville took a slashing penalty to put Rochester back on the powerplay and Smith converted to make it a three-goal game with the Rock still up 9-6.  Toronto survived another pair of late penalties and Nick Rose made save after save to preserve the playoff win and push the Rock into the next round.

“Nothing’s different really, kind of the same thing we’ve been preaching all year we’ve been kind of feeding off Rosey,” said Kri about the Rock’s secret sauce for success.  “Obviously he’s been the backbone of our team all season and obviously brought it into the first game of the playoffs.  It clearly starts with him, and we just clearly give him the shots that he wants to see and has also made some saves that he probably had no business making as well.”

Rochester outshot Toronto 57-50.  Rose finished the night with 51 saves and the game’s first star.  Rylan Hartley made 40 saves while Riley Hutchcraft made a single stop in 34 second relief stint after the Rock got up 4-0.

The Rock were 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Knighthawks were 2-for-5 on the man up.

Next weekend, the Rock will open the NLL Semifinals best-of-three series at home against the Buffalo Bandits.

Game 1: Friday, May 3 at Toronto Rock, 7:30pm

Game 2: Sunday, May 5 at Buffalo Bandits, 5:00pm

Game 3: Saturday, May 11 at Toronto Rock, 7:00pm* (If nec.)

For more information on Toronto Rock tickets, please contact a Toronto Rock account executive by phone at 416-596-3075, by email at tickets@torontorock.com or visit torontorock.com.

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