Halifax – The Toronto Rock (6-2) visited Scotiabank Centre in Halifax for the inaugural meeting between them and the Halifax Thunderbirds (6-2). This was a battle for first place in the North Division in front of an electric, raucous crowd of 9,337. No one was disappointed with the play they witnessed. A goaltending masterpiece from both sides, with a nail biter of a finish. Halifax held on for the 9-8 victory, giving them sole possession of first place in the North, and tightening up the Alterna Cup standings.
The Rock started quickly when Dan Craig (1g,1a) converted a Zach Manns pass on the powerplay at 4:38, but the Thunderbirds came right back when Mike Burke (2g,1a) fired a Ryan Benesch pass in 0:31 seconds later.
Rob Hellyer (3g,3a) gave Toronto the lead back when he scored shorthanded, converting a Scott Dominey pass at 7:18, followed by Challen Rogers (1g,1a) scoring off a Dan Dawson pass at 8:25 increasing the to 3-1.
Both goalies, Nick Rose for Toronto, and Warren Hill for Halifax, were playing outstanding.
Toronto suffered a double whammy at 13:58 when Josh Jubenville was whistled for an illegal crosscheck, but before the delayed penalty was called, Bill Hostrawser was called for a hand ball in the crease resulting in an automatic penalty shot.
Cody Jamieson (2g,0a) took the penalty shot and made no mistake, bringing the Thunderbirds to within one goal, with Jubenville still in the box serving his penalty. On the powerplay, Halifax wasted no time with Kyle Jackson (1g,1a) firing an Austin Shanks pass in at 14:30 to tie the game.
After one quarter, Halifax 3 Toronto 3.
Halifax took their first lead of the game in the second quarter when Graeme Hossack (1g,1a) scored off a Brad Gillies pass at 3:29. Rob Hellyer tied the game up again converting a Dan Craig pass at 6:51, but Ryan Benesch (1g,3a) scored on the powerplay at 7:32, followed by Cody Jamieson 0:18 seconds later to take a two goal lead.
Dan Dawson (1g,2a) got one back for the Rock when he fired a Rob Hellyer pass in at 8:12, but Clarke Petterson (1g,2a) restored the two goal lead off a Kyle Jackson pass at 9:38.
The goaltending, and defenses took over for the rest of the half, with spectacular saves and plays on both ends.
At the half, Halifax 7 Toronto 5.
As the teams were leaving the floor for halftime, Bill Hostrawser bumped a few Halifax players, creating a scene. The result was Hostrawser getting two minutes for roughing. Thunderbirds captain Cody Jamieson continued arguing, and was issued a ten minute match penalty, and was tossed from the game.
Mike Burke opened the third quarter scoring, putting his second of the night in at 0:19 seconds, but that was it for the scoring in this quarter.
Both goalies were exceptional all game, but completely shut down these powerful offenses in this quarter.
After three quarters, Halifax 8 Toronto 5.
Brandon Robinson (1g,0a) scored the Thunderbirds’ first goal in 18:00 minutes, to open a commanding four goal lead, but Rob Hellyer got the Rock closer scoring his third goal of the night off a Challen Rogers pass at 3:53. This was Toronto’s first goal in just under twenty six minutes, going back to the midway point of the second quarter.
Johnny Powless (1g,1a) got the Rock within two goals, scoring on the powerplay off a Rob Hellyer pass at 5:42, then Damon Edwards (1g,0a) fired a laser past Warren Hill at 7:38, and it was a one goal game.
The game became a track meet, with end to end action, but both goalies, as well as their defenses stood tall, not allowing good looks to either offenses the rest of the game.
The Rock pressured Halifax in the last few minutes while on the powerplay, but the Thunderbirds held on for the win.
Final score, Halifax 9 Toronto 8.
Halifax outshot Toronto 59-46.
The loose ball battle was dominated by the Thunderbirds 82-54.
Jake Withers was basically unbeatable on faceoffs, winning 18 of 21.
The Rock was 2 for 6 on the powerplay, also scoring a shorthanded goal.
Halifax was 2 for 5 on the powerplay.
The Three Stars:
1. Warren Hill
2. Mike Burke
3. Nick Rose
Rob Hellyer 3g, 3a
Dan Dawson 1g, 2a
Johnny Powless 1g, 1a
Ryan Benesch 1g, 3a
Mike Burke 2g, 1a
Clarke Petterson 1g, 2a
Toronto’s next game is at the Sasktel Centre in Saskatoon facing the Saskatchewan Rush on February 29th. Game time is 8:30pm (EST).
Halifax’s next game is at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo to face the Bandits on February 29th. Game time is 7pm.