SPORTS

Toronto Rock rally without Colin Doyle to defeat Rochester Knighthawks 13-11

01/27/2012 09:39 EST | Updated 03/28/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - The Toronto Rock, playing the second half without injured captain Colin Doyle, wiped out a three-goal deficit with six consecutive fourth-quarter goals and defeated the Rochester Knighthawks 13-11 on Friday night.

Garrett Billings and Josh Sanderson each scored twice during the rally and each finished with three goals for Toronto. Jamie Rooney got two and Stephan Leblanc, Kasey Beirnes, Ryan Sharp, Stephen Hoar and Pat Merrill had one each for the Rock (2-1).

Doyle appeared in his 188th consecutive game, tying Steve Toll’s NLL record, but he suffered what the team described as a lower body injury in the first half and didn’t return.

Cody Jamieson scored four goals and assisted on three for Rochester (1-2). Johnny Powless and Cory Vitarelli got two each and Stephen Keogh, Travis Hill and Mike Accursi added one apiece.

All appeared lost for the Rock when the Knighthawks went up 9-6 in the fifth minute of the last quarter. But they fought back and tied it 9-9 with just less than five minutes left. Billings then raced around Rory Glaves and beat Matt Vinc with a high shot at 11:54, and Sanderson and Billings whipped in sidearm bullets at 12:33 and 13:05 for a 12-9 Rock lead.

Jamieson made it 12-10 with an overhand shot from the top of the power-play setup at 13:34, Merrill added an empty-net goal for the Rock and Vitarelli closed out the scoring.

Rochester outshot Toronto 52-49. Mat Roik earned the goaltending victory, adding an exclamation mark to his team’s win by stopping Jamieson on a penalty shot with 23.4 seconds left.

Jamieson had opened the scoring at 1:32 with a shot from Sudbury and Sanderson countered at 10:03 when, with Kyle Laverty in the penalty box, he shot to the far side of the net from the left of Vinc at the bottom of the power-play setup.

Rooney got his first goal with his new team when he faked a shot from the front edge of the crease and then planted the ball over Vinc’s left shoulder at 11:37. Jamieson wriggled around Hoar and dove into Roik’s crease to score while airborne at 12:04 and it was 2-2 after one quarter.

Leblanc scored an identical goal 23 seconds into the second quarter after darting past Mike Kirk, and Vitarelli made it 3-3 off a rebound at 2:15.

Powless put Rochester back on top 4-3 at 8:18 with a highlight reel over-the-shoulder shot from the middle of the zone with his back to the net, and Billings made it 4-4 with a shot into the short side of the net from the left of Vinc at 10:29 on a power play resulting from a penalty to Rochester for too many men on the floor.

Keogh launched an overhand bullet over Roik’s left shoulder at 10:58, and the Rock again tied it, 5-5, when Beirnes niftily shot over Vinc’s left shoulder at 14:11 after finding himself all alone at the front edge of the crease thanks to a Billings pass that cashed in a fast break.

Rochester took the lead for the fourth time when Hill took a Pat McCready pass and finished a 2-on-1 short-handed break at 7:34 of the third quarter, and Powless made it 7-5 when he slithered around Sandy Chapman to dive into the crease to score at 9:23.

Sharp responded with a short-handed goal at 12:23. Using Hoar as a decoy, he took the shot himself on a 2-on-1 break and the ball struck Vinc’s leg pads and trickled over the goal line.

Jamieson sent a cross-floor pass to Accursi for quick relay behind Roik 1:10 into the fourth quarter and Sanderson got that one back at 5:15 on a similar play in which Beirnes delivered the pass. Hoar then got the Rock within one, 9-8, when he took a Dan Carey pass at the edge of the crease and bounced the ball in at 7:05.

Rooney tied it 9-9 at 10:04 with a dive into the crease on a power play.

NOTES: Both teams play Saturday _ Toronto at Calgary and Rochester at Colorado . . . D Drew Petkoff, who hadn’t played since injuring a knee last April, returned to the Rock lineup. To make room, rookie D Jesse Gamble was dropped to the practice roster . . . F Jamie Rooney made his Rock debut . . . The last time these teams met Toronto won the East semifinal 12-10 at home . . . Rock scratches were F Rob Hellyer, D Mike Hobbins and F Brenden Thenhaus . . . The Knighthawks deleted F Joe Walters, T Joel White and F Alex Kedoh Hill . . . Since 1998 when he was the league’s rookie of the year, Doyle has missed one game and that was 12 years ago.

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