Billings, Leblanc Pace Toronto Past Calgary
from Press Release
Toronto, ON – The Toronto Rock defeated the Calgary Roughnecks 16-11 in front of 11,120 fans at Air Canada Centre to open the 2014 NLL season on Saturday night.
Toronto scored the opening three goals of the game to jump out to an early 3-0 lead. Calgary got a pair of powerplay markers from Dane Dobbie to narrow the gap to a goal, but the Rock struck back with a pair of their own to lead 5-2. The Rock outscored the Roughnecks 2-1 in the final minutes of the opening quarter, which included a buzzer beater from Rock forward Rob Hellyer to give Toronto a 7-3 lead after one.
The Rock surrendered the first goal of the second quarter but came back with the final two goals of the frame to lead 9-4 at the half. Both Rock goals came on the powerplay.
Josh Sanderson netted his second goal of the game a little under three minutes into the third quarter to stake the Rock to a 10-4 lead. The two teams traded a pair of goals each and Toronto led 12-6 at the conclusion of three quarters.
Despite being down by six goals, the Roughnecks made a serious push in the fourth quarter. Calgary closed to within three goals, but they could get no closer and the Rock held on for a 16-11 win.
Rock forward Garrett Billings won the head to head showdown with last season's MVP Shawn Evans as Billings put up 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists) to the 8-point night of Evans (1 goal, 7 assists).
Stephan Leblanc was the high goal-scorer with 5 tallies, while Rob Hellyer had 3 goals. Colin Doyle and Sanderson each scored pair and Jesse Gamble, Kasey Beirnes, Ethan O'Connor and Billings each had singles.
Nick Rose went the distance in goal for the win making 40 saves and was named the game's third star. Calgary's Jeff Shattler was the second star and the Rock's Leblanc was the first star.
"We got off to a good start in the first half," said Rock Head Coach John Lovell. "After one game, there are some positives and negatives to weigh, but it's great to get a win in front of our fans to open the season."
The Rock will next be in action on Friday night when they travel to Buffalo to face the Bandits. Toronto's next home game is Friday, January 31st against the Vancouver Stealth at 7:30pm at Air Canada Centre.