Rock Edge Knighthawks to Advance to Semifinals

The #1 seed Toronto Rock hosted the #8 seed Rochester Knighthawks at First Ontario Centre in the first round of the NLL playoffs. Toronto finished the season with a 15-3 record, going 7-2 at home. Meanwhile, Rochester pulled off an improbable run on the final weekend of the regular season. With just a 3% chance of making the playoffs, they won both ends of a doubleheader, then watched as three teams above them in the standings failed to win their games to clinch the final playoff spot. An early run put the Rock in front, and they held a high scoring Knighthawks offense at bay in a 9-6 victory. With the win, Toronto advances to the semifinals, where they will play a best-of-three series against the winner of the quarterfinal playoff game between Georgia and Buffalo.

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Opening run puts Rock up at halftime

The Rock came out hot, scoring four goals in a span of 1:40 to take a commanding lead. Challen Rogers went back-to-back (2:08; 2:19), followed by Chris Boushy (2:42) and Corey Small (3:46) to put Toronto up 4-0. A potential fifth straight goal was disallowed after the officials ruled the shot clock had expired before a shot from Dan Craig went into the net. Rochester eventually settled in, with Kyle Waters (12:00) ending the run and getting them on the board. But Tom Schreiber (13:26) would push the lead back to four to end the first quarter with the Rock leading 5-1.

The Knighthawks slowly chipped away at the lead in the second quarter. A power play goal from Ryan Smith (7:58) and a marker from Curtis Knight (12:10) cut the Rock lead to 5-3. However, another late goal from Schreiber (14:40) gave Toronto a 6-3 edge going into the half.

Rock hold on in a defensive second half to advance to semifinals

Mark Matthews (4:53) and Boushy’s second (10:34) extended the Rock lead to 8-3, as Rochester failed to find the back of the net in the third quarter. Connor Fields eventually did at 2:23 of the final frame to make it an 8-4 game. But Dan Craig took a pass from Corey Small and buried one to restore the five-goal edge for Toronto. Smith responded for Rochester with a pair of strikes (9:42; 12:39 power play) to narrow the margin to three. Several late penalties put Rochester in a position to close the gap further with a 5-on-3 power play. However, Rock goaltender Nick Rose stood tall, denying numerous opportunities to retain the three-goal lead as time ran out on the Knighthawks’ season.

Other Stats of Note

Knighthawks: Smith (3g); Fields (1g, 3a); Knight (1g, 1a); Waters (1g); Ryan Lanchbury (1a); Thomas McConvey (1a)

Rock: Rogers (2g, 3a); Schreiber (2g, 1a); Boushy (2g, 1a); Matthews (1g, 3a); Small (1g, 2a); Craig (1g, 1a)

Rylan Hartley (ROC): 40 saves; Nick Rose (TOR): 51 saves

Faceoffs: ROC 5 of 19; TOR 14 of 19

Power Play: ROC 2 for 5; TOR 0 for 3

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and covers NLL, PLL, WLA, and Major Series Lacrosse for the network.