Thunderbirds Keep Playoff Hopes Alive With Victory Over Toronto

The Halifax Thunderbirds (6-7) returned home on Saturday night as they welcomed the Toronto Rock (10-4) to Scotiabank Centre.

Tale of the Tape:

Randy Staats (21g, 41a) continues to lead the Thunderbirds in scoring, while Clarke Petterson (17g, 40a) and Ryan Benesch (21g, 32a) round out the team’s top three scorers.  Eric Fannell (20g, 18a) and Chris Boushy (26G, 10A) also continue to be strong crease finishers for the Thunderbirds. They combined for five of the team’s goals in Buffalo a week ago. 

Warren Hill has put up consecutive strong outings over the last few weeks. He sits with an 11.17 goals-against average and a .770 save percentage for the season.

The Rock boast a high-powered offence that has pushed the team into first place in goals for (171) this year.  Tom Schreiber (35g, 51a), Corey Small (29g, 30a) and Stephen Keogh (24g, 21a) have been solid all year long, and Dan Craig (24g, 34a) has continued to put up strong numbers after a breakout 2021-22 campaign.  

In goal, Nick Rose is having another strong year. The Toronto starter boasts a 10-3 record with an 8.82 GAA and a .800 SV%.

A Faceoff Battle For The Ages:

Jake Withers continues to have a strong year on face-offs winning over 80% of the draws he’s involved in. Withers goes one-on-one with TD Ierlan this week of the Rock, who sits second in the NLL with a .660 win percentage at the stripe. 

The goaltending match-up had Nick Rose in net for Toronto against Warren Hill in net for the Thunderbirds.

Although the Thunderbirds weren’t in the habit of getting in to track meets with opponents, on this night Halifax would push the pace with the Toronto Rock. A very even game saw lead changes seven different times.

Led by Chris Boushy (3g,0a), Eric Fanell (2g,5a), Ryan Benesch (2g,2a) and Randy Staats (2g,1a) the Thunderbirds kept Toronto uncomfortable most of the evening. Although the Rock put forth a late surge with Dan Craig (4g,2a) and Zach Manns (1g,3a) scoring, Halifax was up to the task. Warren Hill had a stellar game in the Thunderbirds net frustrating Toronto shooters all evening. Halifax wins 14-12.

To The Game:

Corey Small opened the scoring for Toronto with a screen shot from the outside off a Tom Schreiber pass at 1:17.  Ryan Benesch answered back with a shot to the corner off a Cody Jamieson feed at 3:33.  TD Ierlan won the ensuing draw, Latrell Harris picked up the loose ball going coast to coast, diving across the crease to score a beauty just 0:11 seconds later. 

During four on four action the Rock pushed the transition game once again.  Latrell Harris found Tom Schreiber, firing a laser past Warren Hill at 8:43.  Ryan Benesch narrowed the game to one goal scoring off a Ryan Terefenko rebound at 14:52. Terefenko was illegally checked into the crease which caused a delayed penalty.

After one quarter, Toronto 3 Halifax 2.

Second Quarter:

Clarke Petterson tied the game coming out of the corner, shooting to the far side off a Ryan Benesch pass at 2:11.  Corey Small regained the lead for the Rock off a Latrell Harris feed to the far corner at 3:15. 

Chris Boushy tied the game again in transition off a Randy Staats pass at 4:08, followed by Staats himself scoring off an Eric Fannell pass to the far corner at 5:06.  Chris Boushy scored his second of the night with a quick stick from the outside off a Cody Jamieson pass at 7:45, opening up a two goal lead.

Dan Craig got one back for the Rock while falling to the floor off a Zach Manns pass at 8:21, followed by Sheldon Burns scoring in transition firing a howitzer to the far corner at 10:01 to tie the game once again.

The Thunderbirds took the lead with a beautiful tic-tac-toe play.  Randy Staats finished passes from Eric Fannell and Ryan Benesch at 12:07 for the goal.

At the half; Halifax 7 Toronto 6.

Third Quarter:

Stephen Keogh opened the third quarter scoring finishing off a Tom Schreiber feed at 3:16 to tie the game once again, followed by Schreiber himself scoring from the restraining line off a Corey Small pass at 5:03.

Chris Boushy tied the game on a delayed penalty to the Rock.  Cody Jamieson fed Boushy, who was all alone in front of the net at 7:34.  Eric Fannell then gave Halifax the lead once again finishing off a Dawson Theede pass at 9:26.  Theede scored off a blast that squeaked by Nick Rose who made the initial save at 10:51 to increase the Thunderbirds lead.

Dan Craig scored his second and third of the night to tie the game.  The first was when he grabbed a Zach Manns rebound off the back glass at 11:40, followed by a shot off the post that bounced off the back of Warren Hill and rolled into the net at 13:05. 

After three quarters, Toronto 10 Halifax 10.

Fourth Quarter:

Eric Fannell opened the fourth quarter scoring finishing off a Cody Jamieson pass with a skip shot at 1:04, followed by Colton Armstrong diving across the crease at 3:45. 

Dan Craig brought the Rock back within one goal with his fourth of the night at 11:42, but after Withers wins the ensuing faceoff, Eric Fanell passed to Clarke Petterson who scored just 0:06 seconds later.

Zach Manns fired a shot over Warren Hill’s shoulder to bring it within one goal again at 12:59, but Ryan Terefenko scored an empty net goal outrunning Tom Schreiber with 0:33 seconds left.

Final score, Halifax 14 Toronto 12.

The Three Stars:

  1. Warren Hill
  2. Dan Craig
  3. Chris Boushy

Game Stats:

  • Shots on goal were tied 52-52.
  • The faceoff battle went to Jake Withers of Halifax 18-12.
  • The loose ball battle went to the Thunderbirds  73-62.
  • Both teams were unsuccessful on the power-play.   Toronto went 0 for 3, while Halifax went 0 for 2.

Top Scorers:

Toronto Rock:

Dan Craig 4g, 2a
Tom Schreiber 2g, 3a
Corey Small 2g, 2a

Halifax Thunderbirds:

Eric Fannell 2g, 5a
Ryan Benesch 2g, 2a
Cody Jamieson 0g, 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.