Rock Outlast Thunderbirds In A Tense Thriller In Halifax

The Halifax Thunderbirds (2-3) welcomed the Toronto Rock (4-0) to Scotiabank Centre for their first of two meetings on the season. 

The Thunderbirds continue to see consistency across the board from their offence.  Ryan Benesch (12g, 9a), Austin Shanks (6g, 15a), and Randy Staats (6g, 11g) have led the way for Halifax.  Toronto counters with Mark Matthews (7g, 7a), Dan Craig (7g, 6a) and Chris Boushy (3g, 8a). 

Since moving to Halifax in 2019, the Thunderbirds have found success against Toronto in The Nest, going a perfect 3-0 over the last three years.  The story of the last two seasons, however, has been the playoff matchups between these two squads. The Rock have eliminated the Thunderbirds in FirstOntario Centre in back-to-back years. 

The goaltending match-up had Nick Rose in net for the Rock facing Warren Hill in net for Halifax.

The first half saw the Rock get out to a big lead off a four goal run in the first quarter.  Halifax put together a couple in the second to get back in the game, but a stingy Toronto defense had the Thunderbirds looking a bit discombobulated throughout the half.

Halifax got on track with a hot Randy Staats taking control of the offense, getting them within one goal.  Penalty trouble got the Rock out of a jam with Mark Matthews giving them some breathing room.  The Thunderbirds kept pressing and three quick goals had them within one again.  The last five minutes were tense but the Rock were able to hold on for an 11-9 victory. 

To The Game:

The Rock opened the scoring in transition when Mitch de Snoo was able to convert a rebound off a Dan Lintner shot at 1:27, but Ryan Benesch answered for the Thunderbirds on a Tic Tac Toe play.  Cody Jamieson fed to Briley Maxwell who found Benesch at 2:13 to tie the game.

Challen Rogers gave Toronto the lead back when he beat Warren Hill with a bounced shot off a Mark Matthews pass on the power-play at 3:00.  The Rock increased the lead with a rope from Corey Small off a flip pass from Dan Craig at 11:20. 

Dan Craig added to the lead with a great individual effort to the top corner at 12:27.  Corey Small then scored his second of the night with a screen shot from the outside off a Zack Kearney feed at 13:03.

After one quarter, Toronto 5 Halifax 1.

Second Quarter:

Ryan Terefenko got the Thunderbirds on the board converting a rebound off a Randy Staats shot at 3:09, followed by Staats himself scoring on the power-play off a Clarke Petterson pass at 5:06. 

The Rock scored on the power-play also, when Corey Small quick sticked a Challen Rogers pass at 10:43 for his third of the night.

At the half, Toronto 6 Halifax 3.

Third Quarter:

Randy Staats opened the third quarter scoring 0:25 seconds in, off a Clarke Petterson pass, but the Rock answered right back with Dan Lintner on a great individual effort off a Dan Craig pass at 1:03.

Randy Staats scored his third of the game (2nd power-play goal) with a low to low bounced shot off a Ryan Benesch feed at 5:36, followed by Ryan Terefenko scoring from in close off a Randy Staats pass at 7:16 to bring the game within one goal.

Dan Craig got one back for Toronto firing a howitzer from the outside off a Challen Rogers pass at 7:48.  Mark Matthews scored on the power-play with 0:24.4 seconds left in the quarter to increase the lead to three once again.

After three quarters, Toronto 9 Halifax 6.

Fourth Quarter:

Corey Small scored his fourth of the night converting a beautiful pass from Challen Rogers at 5:07, but Jake Withers scored unassisted off a faceoff win just 0:10 seconds later.  Clarke Petterson then scored 0:14 seconds after that off a Tyson Bell pass to narrow the lead to only two goals.  Cody Jamieson then brought the game within one again when he dove from behind the net off a rebound at 6:43.

Challen Rogers scored with a swim move and a twister shot unassisted at 10:19 to give Toronto a bit of breathing room. 

The last few minutes saw great saves from Clarke Petterson from Halifax and Challen Rogers for Toronto to keep the game within two.

Final score, Toronto 11 Halifax 9.

The Three Stars:

1. Corey Small
2. Randy Staats
3. Challen Rogers

Game Stats:

  • Shots on goal favored Halifax 54-40.
  • The faceoff battle went to the Thunderbirds with Jake Withers dominating TD Ierlan 18-6.
  • The loose ball battle went to the Thunderbirds 78-60.
  • Toronto went 2 for 8 on the power-play, while Halifax went 2 for 3.

Top Scorers:

Toronto Rock:

  • Corey Small 4g, 1a
  • Challen Rogers 2g, 3a
  • Dan Craig 2g, 2a
  • Dan Lintner 1g, 3a

Halifax Thunderbirds:

  • Randy Staats 3g, 1a
  • Clarke Petterson 1g, 3a
  • Ryan Terefenko 2g, 1a
  • Jake Withers 1g, 2a

Photo Courtesy of the Toronto Rock

Challen Rogers finished the game with five points, along with five loose balls and one caused turnover.Ā  Those numbers pushed him over 200 career points, 500 career loose balls and all came in his 100thĀ career NLL game.

Don’t forget to check us out every Sunday night at 9pm (ET) on

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.