photo courtesy of the National Lacrosse League (NLL)
In a highly anticipated season opener, the Toronto Rock (1-0) hosted the Philadelphia Wings (1-1) at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario in front of 7,217 fans.
The Wings got off to a good start leading 2-0 through the majority of the first quarter. Toronto’s transition game came to life tying the with goals from Josh Jubenville and Brad Kri. The second quarter saw the Mark Matthews show begin. Matthews scored three times in the second. Matthews scored again in the third also adding an assist, leading the Rock to an 11-7 victory over Philadelphia. Both Nick Rose (38 saves on 45 shots) and Zach Higgins (40saves on 51 shots) were stellar in net.
“I had a couple a couple opportunities in the first quarter that were terrible on my part but maybe a little nervous,” said Matthews. “Once the first one went, it feels good to be able to score again.”Quote courtesy of the Toronto Rock
Injuries almost overshadowed the game itself with the Wings placing Holden Cattoni on the Injured Reserve, while Tom Schreiber, and Chris Corbeil were out for the Rock.
To The Game:
The game started with a torrid pace of end to end action. Both teams showed how quick they had become in the off season, yeilding many chances. Both Rose and Higgins looked really good early in their respective nets.
The Wings opened the scoring with Blaze Riorden converting a flip pass from Mitch Jones at 5:05, followed by Joe Resetarits converting a rebound off the back glass, into a wide open net off a Mitch Jones shot at 6:33.
The Rock got on track with two quick transition goals. Josh Jubenville fired a laser to the shortside off a long lead pass from Nick Rose at 11:53, followed by Brad Kri with a shot to the far side off a Mitch de Snoo pass just 0:09 seconds later.
After one quarter, Toronto 2 Philadelphia 2.
Sam LeClair gave the Wings the lead once again unassisted on a great individual effort at 2:18. Mark Matthews answered quickly with two goals in 0:48 seconds to give the Rock their first lead of the night.
Dan Craig increased Toronto’s lead with a quick stick from the side of the net off a Challen Rogers pass at 5:30. But Mitch Armstrong answered back for the Wings with his first career NLL goal unassisted at 8:43.
Mark Matthews continued his hot evening scoring shorthanded off a Dan Lintner feed at 9:46, but Mitch Jones answered right back with a quick stick on the power-play off a Joe Resetarits pass at 11:00.
Another Rock transition goal with Justin Martin scoring his first NLL goal. Martin converted a Mitch de Snoo feed at 13:12, then follwed by Dan Craig’s second of the night off a Corey Small pass 0:45 seconds later.
At the half, Toronto 8 Philadelphia 5.
Shots on goal favored the Rock 29-20.
Tyler Hendryks opened the second half scoring with his first NLL goal off a Josh Dawick pass at 2:36, followed by Mark Matthews fourth of the evening on the power-play also off a Josh Dawick feed at 6:09, opening up a five goal cushion.
Joe Resetarits answered for Philadelphia, converting a Mitch Jones pass on the power-play at 8:48.
After three quarters, Toronto 10 Philadelphia 6.
Phil Mazzuca continued the Rock’s success in transition with a blast unassisted at 6:08. Taggart Clark got his first NLL goal for Philadelphia off a Taite Cattoni feed at 13:05, but it was too little too late.
Final score, Toronto 11 Philadelphia 7.
Blaze Riorden left the game in the first half with an upper body injury.
“Opening night is special. I mentioned that to the guys before the game. One year in the league, 15 years in the league, you always get excited for opening night,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer. “You can only look back, I guess, fondly on it when you get a win, so we found a way to do that tonight.”Quote courtesy of the Toronto Rock
The Three Stars:
1. Mark Matthews
2. TD Irelan
3. Mitch Jones
- Shots on goal were 51-45 in favor of the Rock.
- The faceoff battle was dominated by TD Ierlan of Toronto going 17 of 21.
- The loose ball battle went to the Rock 81-46.
- Philadelphia went 2 for 3 on the power-play, giving up a shorthanded goal.
- Toronto went 1 for 3 on the power-play.
- Mitch Jones 1g, 3a
- Joe Resetarits 2g, 1a
- Sam LeClair 1g, 1a
- Mark Matthews 4g, 1a
- Josh Dawick 0g, 3a
- Mitch de Snoo 0g, 3a
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Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.
An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.
Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.
In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.
Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).
Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.