Lax Philly – A Division of Edge of Philly Sports Network
The Toronto Rock (14-5) took on the Halifax Thunderbirds (11-8) at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, ON in front of 7,241 fans. The game was the Rock’s first ever playoff game in Hamilton. The winner would advance to the best-of-3 East Conference Finals against the winner of the Buffalo vs. Albany East Conference Semi-Final game to be played on Saturday night in Buffalo.
This was the fourth match-up of the year for the two teams, with Halifax winning the season series 2-1, but the Rock getting the best of the Thunderbirds 15-7 in their last regular season meeting. Toronto has been the hottest team in the league going 11-2 after a slow start of 2-3 to start the season.
Rob Hellyer made his return to the Toronto lineup after missing 5 games with an upper body injury. Hellyer’s 12 goals, and 30 assists makes him the Active leader of Playoff points with 42. Colin Doyle is the all-time leader with 55 goals, 58 assists, for 113 points.
The goaltending match-up had Warren Hill in net for the Thunderbirds against Nick Rose for Toronto.
This was a story of two games in two halfs. Toronto went up 9-3 at the half and were running away with the game. To Halifax’s credit, they never quit. The Thunderbirds rolled up their sleeves, and piece by piece came back. With just under ten minutes left, Halifax took their only lead of the night, but with less than five minutes remaining, the Rock tied it.
Overtime was frantic, but on an end to end run in transition, Challen Rogers ended the game and the Thunderbirds season at 2:27.
To the game…
A torrid pace, with a chippy feel was the order to start the game.
Toronto opened the scoring with Tom Schreiber (3g,2a) converting a Rob Hellyer pass at 3:18, followed by Zach Manns (2g,3a) with a beautiful individual effort diving across the crease off a Tom Schreiber pass at 6:34. The Rock increased their lead when Latrell Harris 1g,2a) went end to end, putting it by Warren Hill in transition unassisted at 7:28.
Toronto increased the lead to 4-0 when Tom Schreiber fired a shot from the outside beating Hill low at 10:57, followed by a laser by Mitch de Snoo (2g,1a) off a Brad Kri pass in transition at 11:56.
At this point Halifax coach Mike Accursi made the goalie change to Aaron Bold.
Halifax finally got on the board with a laser of a shot from Eric Fannell (1g,2a) finding top cheese at 12:28.
After one quarter, Toronto 5 Halifax 1
Rob Hellyer (2g,3a) opened the second quarter scoring with a shot from the outside off a Jordan McKenna pass at 6:21, but the Thunderbirds stormed back with a goal from Ryan Terefenko (1g,3a) off a Jake Withers faceoff win just 0:10 seconds later.
Dan Dawson (2g,0a) scored on the power play off a Challen Rogers pass at 11:09, but again the Thunderbirds came back when Austin Shanks (2g,1a) fired a long low shot to the corner beating Nick Rose at 12:03.
The Rock scored again when Mitch de Snoo came in on Aaron Bold in transition, off a Latrell Harris pass at 12:38, followed by Dan Craig (1g,3a) firing a howitzer in close, off a Rob Hellyer feed at 13:02.
At the half, Toronto 9 Halifax 3.
Whatever was said in the Halifax dressing room at the half had them fired up, ready to go.
The Thunderbirds got on the board early when Jake Withers (1g,1a) beat Nick Rose unassisted just 0:20 seconds into the quarter. Halifax then scored again just 0:06 seconds into their power play when Cody Jamieson converted a Clarke Petterson pass at 3:38. The Thunderbirds continued their comeback when Austin Shanks scored another power play goal from the top of the crease off a Clarke Petterson pass at 6:14, then Stephen Keogh (2g,1a) brought Halifax within two when he converted a Dawson feed at 7:06.
Rob Hellyer got Toronto on the board when he converted a Tom Schreiber pass at 8:15, but Halifax came back in transition when Tyson Bell scored off a Ryan Terefenko pass at 10:35.
Zach Manns scored his second of the night, giving the Rock a three goal lead once again when he converted a Rob Hellyer pass at 12:57, followed by Dan Dawson’s second of the night off a Dan Craig pass at 14:43.
After three quarters, Toronto 12 Halifax 8.
The Thunderbirds got on the board quickly again to start the fourth when Cody Jamieson finished an Eric Fannell pass at 0:28 seconds, followed by Brad Gilles 1g,0a) bringing the game back to within two goals in transition unassisted at 2:02. Clarke Petterson (1g,4a) brought the game within one goal when he fired a long shot from the restraining line off an Eric Fannell pass at 3:54, and then tied it when Stephen Keogh fired a laser past Nick Rose at 5:18.
Halifax took their first lead of the night when Dawson Theede (1g,1a) converted a Clarke Petterson pass at 5:33.
Toronto tied the game when Tom Schreiber scored his third of the game off a Dan Craig pass at 7:20.
You could cut the tension in FirstOntario Centre with a knife.
The last 7:20 had multiple chances, but for the stellar goaltending of Nick Rose, and Aaron Bold we headed to overtime.
After regulation, Toronto 13 Halifax 13.
A frantic couple of minutes was culminated by the Captain of the Toronto Rock. Challen Rogers (1g,1a), taking it end to end, scored unassisted at 2:27.
Final score, Toronto 14 Halifax 13.
The Three Stars:
- First Star………..Challen Rogers
- Second Star……Tom Schreiber
- Third Star……….Mitch de Snoo
- The Rock outshot Halifax 56-54
- The faceoff battle went to Jake Withers of the Thunderbirds 21-10
- Toronto edged out Halifax in loose balls 79-78.
- The Thunderbirds went 2 for 2 on the power play, while Toronto went 1 for 2.
- Clarke Petterson 1g,4a
- Cody Jamieson 2g, 3a
- Ryan Terefenko 1g, 3a
- Tom Schreiber 3g, 2a
- Rob Hellyer 2g, 3a
- Zach Manns 2g, 3a
Toronto now waits for the winner of Buffalo vs. Albany Saturday night to see where and when they play round two.
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 10 years ago. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob had 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).
Mr. Groob 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.