Rock Clinch First Place Overall With Win Over Knighthawks

The Rochester Knighthawks (6-10) visited the Toronto Rock (14-3) in a must win game for them at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, in front of 11,256.

A year after becoming just the third American-born player in league history to record 100 points in a season, Knighthawks forward Connor Fields, coming off his four-point effort last week against New York, successfully surpassed the 100-point mark for the second straight year.  Mark Matthews is leading the Rock with 59 assists and 86 points, good for 15th in scoring in the NLL.

There will be a battle at the center dot between a pair of Rochester natives and two of the top face-off specialists, in Toronto’s TD Ierlan and Rochester’s Joe Post. Ierlan played his high school lacrosse at Victor, where he was a two-time US Lacrosse All-American selection leading the Blue Devils to their first two of five straight Section V championships as well as back-to-back New York State titles in 2015 and 2016. Ierlan, who went to the Rock 20th overall in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, led all NLL rookies and finished fourth in the league with 234 face-off wins during the 2021-22 campaign.  Ierlan and Post have nearly identical numbers this season with both players recording two points and gathering 131 loose ball recoveries in 14 games.

The goaltending match-up had Riley Hutchcraft in net for the Knighthawks facing Nick Rose in net for Toronto.

The first half was all Toronto, who scored early and often.  Led by Corey Small (3g,2a), and Chris Boushy (4g,0a) scoring three each, and Challen Rogers (2g,3a) with a pair, the Rock jumped out to a 10-1 lead at the half.

In the second half, Rylan Hartley replaced a struggling Riley Hutchcraft, and was spectacular.  Hartley shut out the Rock for 23:04 before Tom Schreiber finally solved him.  Hartley only gave up two goals altogether.  More importantly for the Knighthawks, Rylan looked like his old self, very agile and energetic.   Rochester finally found an answer for Nick Rose, scoring five in the half.  However, it was way too little, way too late.  Toronto wins 13-6, and clinches first overall, and home field advantage for the entire playoffs.

To The Game:

The Rock got on the board first when Challen Rogers hit a bounce shot off a Mark Matthews pass at 2:45, followed by Chris Boushy converting a Rogers feed from in close at 7:54. 

The Rock continued the early barrage with Corey Small firing a Mark Matthews pass past Riley Hutchcraft at 8:22, followed by Challen Rogers scoring his second of the game tip toeing around the crease off a Mitch de Snoo pass at 10:00.

Rochester finally got on the board when Connor Fields fired a laser from in close on the power-play off a Turner Evans pass at 12:17, but on the last play of the quarter, Mitch de Snoo ran the ball up the floor taking a shot on net. Justin Martin was there to convert the rebound at 14:55.

After one quarter, Toronto 5 Rochester 1.

Second Quarter:

The quarter started off rather chippy.  On a four on three man advantage for the Rock, Mark Matthews added to the Rock lead with a hard shot that found the corner off a Tom Schreiber pass at 1:17, followed by Corey Small  with a quick stick from the side of the net off a Challen Rogers pass 0:38 seconds later.

Chris Boushy increased the Rock lead with a howitzer from the outside off a Corey Small pass at 4:52, followed by Small himself on the power-play off a Mark Matthews pass at 6:52.  Chris Boushy added his third of the night on the power-play with a low to low shot from in close off a Tom Schreiber feed at 9:10. 

At the half,  Toronto 10 Rochester 1.

Third Quarter:

Rylan Hartley started the second half in net for Rochester.

The Knighthawks finally got on the board when Kyle Waters was sent in all alone off a Ryan Smith pass at 12:46, followed by Connor Fields firing a shot the dribbled into the net on the power-play off a Waters pass at 13:14.

After three quarters, Toronto 10 Rochester 3.

Fourth Quarter:

On a delayed penalty the Knighthawks got closer when Dan Lomas scored with a backhand shovel off a Ryan Lanchbury feed at 4:31, followed by a howitzer from Ethan O’Connor off a Connor Fields feed at 5:43.

Toronto finally got on the board in the second half when Tom Schreiber feathered a shot to the far corner off a Mark Matthews pass at 8:04, but the Knighthawks answered immediately when Brad Gillies scored off a Matt Gilray pass in transition at 8:53.

Brad Kri sealed the game with an empty net goal going coast to coast at 14:01, followed by Chris Boushy with his fourth of the night off a Sheldon Burns pass 0:12 seconds later.

Final score, Toronto 13 Rochester 6.

Of note, Two milestones for Toronto.  Chris Corbeil suited up for his 200th career game, and Corey Small got his 500th career assist.

The Three Stars:

1. Challen Rogers
2. Nick Rose
3. Chris Boushy

Game Stats:

  • Shots on goal favored Toronto 64-40
  • The faceoff battle went to TD Ierlan of the Rock, Edging Joe Post 13-9.
  • Loose balls were dominated by the Rock 85-51.
  • Toronto went 4 for 11 on the power-play, while Rochester went 2 for 5.

Top Scorers:

Rochester Knighthawks:

  • Connor Fields 1g, 2a
  • Ryan Lanchbury 0g, 3a
  • Kyle Waters 1g, 1a
  • Ryan Smith 1g, 1a

Toronto Rock:

  • Corey Small 3g, 2a
  • Challen Rogers 2g, 3a
  • Tom Schreiber 1g, 4a

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Gary Groob
Gary Groob

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.