Thunderbirds Outlast Rock In A See-Saw Battle

Gary Groob
Lax Philly  – A Division of Edge of Philly Sports

The Halifax Thunderbirds (3-0), after having 36 days off, visited the Toronto Rock (2-3) in National Lacrosse League (NLL) action on Saturday night. 

The Rock had been having problems with keeping a healthy lineup together, but with the return of Dan Dawson, and Tom Schreiber, and the signing of Mark Cockerton, this will definately help the creativity of the offensive.  Halifax has been very potent this year with Chris Boushy, and Clarke Petterson having great seasons.  With a full lineup, this team is as good as any in the league.

The game was an absolute dogfight all night long, with the action going back and forth continuously.  Halifax finally emerged with the victory in overtime 14-13.

Photo courtesy of the Toronto Rock

To the game…

First Quarter:

Halifax started very early with Austin Shanks (5g,3a) converting a Tyson Bell feed just 0:16 seconds into the game. Dan Craig (2g,5a) evened up the score on a quick stick goal from a Challon Rogers pass at 1:29, but Halifax stormed back with Chris Boushy (3g,1a) scoring off a Connor Watson pass 0:43 seconds later.  Austin Shanks scored his second of the night with a laser of a shot beating Nick Rose (Rock goalie) low to the far side at 7:56 increasing the Thunderbirds lead to 3-1.

Tempers boiled over when Mitch de Snoo of the Rock battled David Brock of the Thunderbirds earning them both 5 minutes for fighting at 9:53. 

Austin Shanks got his third of the quarter quick sticking his own rebound home at 12:48, but Chris Weier got his first NLL goal of his career for the Rock in transition to narrow the lead.

After one quarter, Halifax 4 Toronto 2.

Toronto’s first quarter woes continued in this game.  The Rock have not led after one in any of the five games so far this year.

Second Quarter:

Challon Rogers (2g,7a) brought the Rock within one goal when he unloaded a howitzer at 1:09 on the power play, but Stephan Leblanc (3g,3a) got it back for the Thunderbirds scoring from the top of the crease at 2:16.  Connor Watson (2g,3a) scored his first NLL goal, picking the top corner off an Austin Shanks feed at 2:41 giving Halifax a three goal lead.

The Rock made a goalie change at this point, putting Troy Holowchuk in net. 

Connor Watson scored his second of the night off an Austin Shanks pass at 10:19, but Jamison Dilks (2g,0a) of Toronto got that back with his first NLL goal in transition 0:13 seconds later.  Mike Accursi, coach of the Thunderbirds challenged the play, but after a lengthy review, the goal was upheld.

Zach Manns (4g,3a) chipped away at the Halifax lead with a beautiful individual effort diving across the crease beating Warren Hill (Halifax goalie) at 11:24, then Tom Schreiber (1g,2a) scored a power play goal off a Challon Rogers pass at 13:04 to bring Toronto within one goal.

Ryan Terefenko made a beautiful play for the Thunderbirds, passing to a speeding Eric Fannell (1g,0a) who scored at 13:38.

Photo courtesy of Halifax Thunderbirds

At the half, Halifax 8 Toronto 6.

  • Shots on goal at the half was 28-20 in favor of Toronto.
  • The faceoff battle was led by Jake Withers 9-7 over TD Ierlan.

Third Quarter:

Chris Boushy opened the scoring for the Thunderbirds, taking a rebound off the back boards, beating Troy Holowchuk at 5:03. 

Jake Withers took a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct off the ensuing faceoff, and on that power play, Dan Craig scored his second of the night off a Challon Rogers pass at 5:30.  Jamison Dilks brought the Rock within one goal when he scooped a ball in transition, going coast to coast for his second goal of the night at 7:55.  Zach Manns then tied the game when he converted a Dan Craig pass at 9:42. 

Chris Boushy got the lead back for Halifax scoring his third of the night on a crease dive at 12:44.

After three quarters, Halifax 10 Toronto 9.

Photo courtesy of the Toronto Rock

Fourth Quarter:

The quarter opened up with end to end action.  The teams were playing at a torrid pace, with both getting decent opportunities.

Challon Rogers tied the game in transition with a laser of a shot from the outside at 3:22, but Stephan Leblanc regained the lead for the Thunderbirds at 4:52. Zach Manns scored his third of the night to tie the game again just 0:19 seconds later on another quick stick goal, and then got his fourth of the night giving the Rock their first lead of the night at 5:28.

Austin Shanks took a Cody Jamieson pass and fired a shot top shelf to tie the game up again at 9:17, Dan Dawson (1g,1a) gave the Rock the lead muscling his way to the crease, beating Warren Hill at 12:27.  Austin Shanks scored his fifth of the game to tie the game up again at 13:12 in this back and forth affair.

Regular time didn’t solve anything, off to overtime they went.

After four quarters, Toronto 13 Halifax 13.

Photo courtesy of the Toronto Rock

In Overtime:

An exciting quarter was an understatement!  The pace, and chances had everyone watching on baded breath.

After almost nine heart-stopping minutes, Stephan Leblanc fired a laser from the outside beating Troy Holowchuk at 8:50.

Final score, Halifax 14 Toronto 13.

The Three Stars:

  1. Austin Shanks
  2. Challon Rogers
  3. Troy Holowchuk

  • Shots on goal favored Toronto 65-48
  • Jake Withers wins the faceoff battle 16-15 over TD Ierlan.
  • The Rock went 3 for 5 on the power play, while the Thunderbirds went 0 for 2 on the power play.

Top Scorers,


Austin Shanks 5g, 3a
Stephan Leblanc 3g, 3a
Clarke Petterson 0g, 6a


Challon Rogers 2g, 7a
Zach Manns 4g, 3a
Dan Craig 2g, 5a

Of note:

This was Dangerous Dan Dawson’s 300th career NLL game, and with the two points he got in the game, it put him 2nd overall in points in NLL history passing John Grant Jr.

“Honestly, I’ve been blessed to play a game I love so much for a long time,” said Dawson.  “300 games is something that I’m lucky to have done and to play a sport that has given me and my family so much.  I’m going to try and play as long as I can, because as an athlete you can’t do it forever. I’m trying to cherish these moments and every game.”

Quote courtesy of the Toronto Rock

Halifax’s next game is Saturday January 29th in Albany.

Toronto’s next game is January 29th at home vs. the Rochester Knighthawks.

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.