Saturday night was supposed to be rookie Cody Jamieson’s coming out party for the Rochester Knighthawks. Instead it was the Toronto Rock that stole the show.
Stephan Leblanc had three goals and two assists, and Garret Billings finished with eight points (two goals and six assists) as the Rock defeated the Knighthawks 12-9 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y.
Toronto had been 0-for-15 in regular season games in Rochester before this weekend’s victory. The Rock are now 2-0 on the season and are tied with the Boston Blazers (2-0) for first place in the NLL Eastern Division.
Goaltender Bob Watson played fantastic in net for Toronto as he shutout Rochester (1-1) in the third quarter and stopped 53 shots in all. He also became the third goalie in league history to make 6,000 career saves, earning the mark during the Knighthawks onslaught of shots late in the second quarter.
“Bobby’s been the backbone of the organization for years,” said Toronto head coach Troy Cordingley. “When our defense broke down, he was there once again to make the big save.”
The reigning NLL Overall Player of the Week stepped up and took over the game early on, as only five balls got passed Watson in the first 30 minutes.
“Watson is a big time goalie,” said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen. “We had a ton of chances. Time and time again he turned us away.”
Watson will likely pickup more hardware this week when the league’s week two awards are announced on Wednesday.
Not to be outdone on the other side of the floor, new Knighthawk goaltender Matt Vinc also played well in his first home game, making 44 saves.
But Vinc and the Rochester defense couldn’t stop the Toronto offense in the first quarter as the Rock took a 6-2 lead after the first 15 minutes. Colin Doyle and Billings each scored twice in the period.
“We started out a little flat,” said Rochester’s Shawn Evans, who finished with four assists while also picking up seven loose balls. “Bounces didn’t go our way. Those little breaks change a game and we didn’t get those breaks.”
Many of the 6,025 fans in attendance were there to see 2010 first overall pick Cody Jamieson play his first home game. Jamieson didn’t disappoint early on as he gave the Knighthawks the 1-0 lead 1:28 into the contest.
The Rochester lead would be short lived though, as Billings scored for Toronto 20 seconds later to begin a three-goal run for the Rock.
Jamieson did finish with a hat trick as he scored two more times in the fourth quarter, but by then Toronto already had the game safely in their grasps. He also added three assists for his first six-point night of his career.
Even though the former Syracuse Orange player didn’t make a huge impact early on, Hasen was pleased with his performance in only his second National Lacrosse League game.
“Jamieson played very well,” Hasen said. “Tonight is what we were expecting out of him.”
Toronto will look to take first place in the Eastern Division next Friday as they’ll host the Boston Blazers at the Air Canada Centre at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Rochester will then play at Boston the next night as the Knighthawks and the Blazers square off at the TD Garden on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Here is a look at the other four games in week two of the 2011 National Lacrosse League season.
Mammoth Victorious Over Roughnecks on Last Second Shot
The game is never over until the clock strikes zero. The Calgary Roughnecks learned that the hard away against the Colorado Mammoth.
Colorado’s Cliff Smith scored with two seconds left in Saturday’s game to lift the Mammoth to the 8-7 victory over the Roughnecks at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
The Riggers were down five goals in the first half, but they battled back and tied the game in the fourth quarter before falling victim to Smith’s shot late.
“In the last half of the game, we hung on and hung on,” said Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley. “We were fortunate to get the ball last and Cliff Smith buried it.”
Smith and Jamie Shewchuk finished with two goals each for Colorado (1-1) while Calgary’s (2-1) Scott Ranger also found the back of the cage twice as well.
Next Saturday Colorado returns to Denver to face the Philadelphia Wings while Calgary will host the Washington Stealth in a rematch of week one.
Tavares Leads Bandits to 9-6 Win Over Wings
The Buffalo Bandits earned their first win of the season after defeating the Philadelphia Wings 9-6 on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
In a game that featured 35 penalty minutes, only one power play goal was scored, that by Frank Resetarits early in the fourth quarter to give Buffalo the 6-3 lead.
After being held scoreless in the second and third quarters, the Wings scored three times in the fourth. Unfortunately their defense couldn’t stop the Bandits offense from scoring as well as Buffalo scored four times in the final period.
John Tavares finished with three goals and three assists, and Mike Thompson made 39 saves in net for Buffalo (1-1). Athan Iannucci had two goals and two assists for Philadelphia (0-2) while Drew Westervelt also scored twice for the Wings.
Buffalo will host the Toronto Rock next week while Philadelphia will travel to the Rockies to play the Colorado Mammoth. Both games are on Saturday.
Hill Scores First Goal But Big Third Quarter Lifts Boston Over Edmonton
In a tight game that was filled with defense in the first half, the Boston Blazers took over with a big third quarter.
Tied at three after 30 minutes, Boston scored five third-quarter goals to help them defeat the Edmonton Rush 10-7 on Saturday at TD Garden and earn a share the NLL Eastern Division lead.
Alex-Kedoh Hill made his Rush (0-2) debut in the contest, and it didn’t take long for him to get his first NLL goal as he scored the first goal of the game 55 seconds into the contest. Hill finished with two goals and two assists.
Nick Cotter led Boston (2-0) in scoring with three goals and one assist, while teammate Casey Powell finished with two goals and two assists.
Boston will look to take the outright Eastern Division lead as they’ll play the Toronto Rock on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET at the Air Canada Center in Toronto. The Blazers will then play at home against Rochester on Saturday. Edmonton will play at Minnesota also on Saturday.
Benesch Scores Seven as Minnesota Doubles Up the Defending Champs
Minnesota’s Ryan Benesch finished with 10 points as the Swarm doubled up the defending NLL champs, the Washington Stealth, on Friday night at Comcast Arena in Everett, Washington.
Benesch finished with seven goals and three assists for the Swarm (1-1), but it just wasn’t Benesch’s play that helped Minnesota get their first win of the season, but also that of goaltender Nick Patterson who finished with 50 saves.
“[Our] defense played great out there,” Patterson said. “They just gave me the chance to make big saves. They played great together.”
Lewis Ratcliff led Washington (1-2) in scoring with three goals and one assist, while Paul Rabil and Rhys Duch also scored twice for the Stealth.
After defeating Colorado on opening night, Washington is now under .500 after losing their last two games. At no point last season did the Stealth have a losing record and they didn’t lose their second game in 2010 until week seven against Calgary, putting their record then at 6-2.
The Stealth will look to even up their record on Saturday as they’ll play at Calgary while the Swarm will host the Edmonton Rush on the same night in St. Paul, Minn.
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