Toronto Rock: Second-Half Let Down

TOsports.caCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2009

While Kevin Buchanan broke out, the Toronto Rock broke down late in their game against the Minnesota Swarm, losing 13–10 on Feb. 27 at the Air Canada Centre.

The loss, the Rock’s third straight and sixth on the season, puts them in a must-win scenario Saturday night in Rochester. If they lose against the Knighthawks they are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

To make matters worse, this was the second straight game where the Rock held a lead at the end of the first half, only to implode and lose the game.

“Third quarter we lost 5 – 1,” Head Coach Jamie Batley said. “Obviously that was the problem tonight. We just didn’t put the ball in the net. We had lots of chances.”

Buchanan, in his third career game, scored five goals to lead the Swarm to a win.

Pretty good for a 22-year-old rookie, who wasn’t even on the active roster to start the season, and coming into tonight had only two career goals.

“I did my normal routine,” Buchanan said. “I was loose, goofy. I hit my first shot, it gave me a little confidence and it started rolling from there.”

Listed generously at 5'10" on the roster, his six points were ample support for the Swarm’s victory

Toronto’s offense came from a diverse group of forwards, with Luke Wiles, Kasey Beirnes, and Chris Driscoll scoring two each. Absent from the scoring sheet was Jason Crosbie, who only managed one assist.

“We worked as a unit for the first 40 minutes,” Crosbie said. “Then we started not doing it (working as a unit), and they started (working as a unit) and then you (the Rock) start clutching sticks. It’s just a psychological thing right now with us.”

The fourth quarter saw the Swarm take complete control of the situation. They took a four goal lead at one point and heading into the final minutes they were up 12–8.

The only answer from the Rock was a couple of goals from Kasey Beirnes. His first of the game, ending a 20-minute scoring drought for the Rock, made it a little closer. Beirnes' second of the game brought the Rock to within two, 12–10.

But Aaron Wilson silenced any Rock comeback with his second goal of the game at 13:49, it was the nail in the coffin.

The Swarm didn’t get their first lead of the game until the third quarter. Kevin Ross’ goal put the Rock in a one-goal deficit, down 9-8.

“We get in this position where we stop,” Crosbie said. “We don’t know what’s going on right now. We come out, got lots of confidence and we get in this position where we stop.”

The Rock now head to Rochester on very short rest. They play their second game in as many nights against the Knighthawks. Toronto has never beaten Rochester in the regular season, and three times in franchise history, to win the NLL championship all three times.

“We have to get goals offensively five-on-five and we’re not getting them,” Batley said. “We got goals in transition, power play we got some goals we only got a few five-on-five. We need more especially if we’re going to get quality shots. I think we got quality shots but we just didn’t put it in.”

Before last week’s game, long-time Toronto Rock player Dan Ladouceur retired.  He spent his entire career with the Toronto Rock and was on all five championship teams.

This week the Rock acquired goalie Chris Palidwor from Colorado, he was the backup against Minnesota.  It was Minnesota’s first game in Toronto since last season’s brawl that saw former-coach Greg Clark suspended indefinitely after a post-game incident with Swarm player Sean Pollock.