Cody Jamieson was stellar in his first game in Rochester with three goals and three assists. But Toronto goalie Bob Watson was better with 53 saves -- including the 6,000th of his career -- in a 12-9 Rock victory.
© Rich Barnes
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Fifteen regular season tries had been
unsuccessful for the Toronto Rock franchise in trying to earn a win
in Rochester, but their 16th trip to the Blue Cross Arena proved
fruitful Saturday, as Toronto downed the Knighthawks, 12-9.
The first quarter was all Rock, despite surrendering the first goal of the game. The Rock defense answered the bell early, getting key stops following each goal the offense was able to deliver.
Though the Knighthawks outshot the Rock, 12-11, in the first quarter, Toronto jumped to a 6-2 lead behind the goalkeeping of Bob Watson, the reigning NLL Overall Player of the Week who would finish with 53 saves.
On the opposite side, Matt Vinc, the centrepiece of the John Grant trade with Colorado in the offseason, struggled in the early going, as the Rock had success against him from all over the floor.
Garrett Billings scored his second goal of the game just 13 seconds into the second quarter to push the Rock lead to 7-2. Rochester outshot Toronto in the second quarter, however, and pulled within three, down 8-5 at the half.
“We were playing real well in the early going,” said Rock head coach Tory Cordingley. “I was pleased with our game.”
As it did last week against Edmonton, the Rock blanked the Knighthawks in the third quarter to go ahead, 10-5.
Stephan Leblanc continued his career-long, goal-scoring streak, rounding out his hat trick in the fourth quarter by scoring twice. Billings, Colin Doyle, Blaine Manning and rookie Aaron Pascas each scored two goals for the Rock. Kasey Beirnes added a goal.
Watson’s 23rd save of the game, which was his first stop of the second half, was the 6,000th of his career. Watson finished the game with 53 saves. He is third all-time in career saves behind only Pat O’Toole, who currently serves as the goaltending coach for the Knighthawks, and the retired Dallas Eliuk.
For Watson, the 6,000th save might have been a nice milestone, but he stressed the importance of finally being able to get a win in Rochester.
“When we get lost on D, he comes up with huge saves,” Cordingley said. “He’s a phenomenal leader and such a calming influence in room. I’ll say it again and again; he’s the best to ever play the game.”
The Rock will return home Friday night to face the Boston Blazers at Air Canada Centre at 7:30 p.m. Toronto will then hit the road to face the Buffalo Bandits in its home opener the next night at HSBC Arena.
In his first game in Rochester, Cody Jamieson, the first-overall pick in the 2010 NLL Entry Draft, recorded his first career hat trick in front of 6,025 fans and tallied three assists on the night.