NLL: Rock get rare win in Colorado

The Toronto Rock picked up a much-needed win Saturday night in Colorado that keeps them on pace with the NLL’s top Eastern Division teams. The Rock defeated the Mammoth 11-10 to remain just one game behind the Georgia Swarm for first place. It was the Rock’s third consecutive down-to-the-wire game after a one-goal loss to Georgia and an OT win over Philadelphia.

“This is a big win for us,” Rock head coach Matt Sawyer stated in a team press release. “[Colorado] has historically been a tough place for this team to get a win. We knew we would get their best and we were able to persevere and get our third win of the season.”

Toronto was strong in the first, outscoring the Mammoth 3-1 at Pepsi Center. Colorado put together a stronger effort in the second, chipping away at the Rock’s lead until the teams were tied at five at the half.

Stephen Keogh and Ryan Benesch’s power play markers in the second led the Mammoth. The Rock weren’t necessarily undisciplined – the only two penalties they took in the game were in that second quarter, allowing the Mammoth power play to operate at 100%.

Ryan Lee’s third goal in three games put the Mammoth up 6-5 early in the third quarter. But as he was against the Wings, Adam Jones was the difference, scoring back-to-back to end the Mammoth’s three-goal run and give Toronto a 7-6 lead. However, Jacob Ruest tied the game at seven with 13 seconds left in the third as the teams went back and forth.

Benesch gave the Mammoth an 8-7 lead 2:30 into the fourth, but the Rock stormed back with a three-goal run. Rob Hellyer, Tom Schreiber and Dan Craig scored in a span of 1:50 for a 10-8 Rock lead. Eli McLaughlin replied exactly three minutes after Craig’s goal with his 100th career marker to pull the Mammoth back within a goal but Hellyer’s hat trick goal gave the Toronto team some insurance. Ruest’s hat trick goal came at 12:53 with the Mammoth pressing, but Nick Rose made some great saves in the dying minutes to preserve the win.

Rose made 42 saves while Dillon Ward, peppered by Rock shots, made 57, which gave him a personal best.

The Mammoth, who finished second in the West last season, have yet to win a game this year despite only minute changes to their talented roster. They’re set to host the Calgary Roughnecks on Sunday, January 20th to end a season-opening four-game home stand. The Roughnecks previously beat the Mammoth 11-8 on January 6th.

The Rock will return home to the Air Canada Centre this Friday for a rematch with the first-place Georgia Swarm.