Grant ends it early

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Unfortunately for the Toronto Rock, close does not count in lacrosse. Twenty-four hours after an ugly 15-6 loss against the Rochester Knighthawks at the Air Canada Centre, the Rock delivered a much-improved effort against the same team last night, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion.

While falling in the slot, Hawks star John Grant Jr., beat Rock goalie Bob Watson with a bounce shot 46 seconds into overtime to give Rochester a 12-11 win before 8,867 National Lacrosse League fans here at Blue Cross Arena.

"He's good. That's all you can say," said Rock defender Brian Beisel, who knocked Grant off his feet just as he made the winning shot. "He made a shot there falling down to finish the game off. That's why he's one of the best right now.

"I've played against him for a long time and nothing is really hard to believe. Sometimes, he just finds a way."

The Rock (2-2) dropped to third place in the five-team East Division after falling to 0-8 in regular-season play in Rochester. Grant's game-high fifth goal, his 18th of the season, put the Hawks (3-2) into a tie for first with the Buffalo Bandits

"It was basically give me the ball and let me go and see what happens," said Grant, who scored the winner coming out of a timeout. "There (were) a few guys open, but I just felt like taking the shot and I was lucky. I count Lady Luck on my side for that one."

The Rock almost pulled off a come-from-behind victory. Trailing 11-9, the Rock rallied for two goals in the final three minutes, the final one coming from Nick Trudeau with 54.1 seconds left. The comeback attempt came after whistle-happy referee Bill Fox gave the Hawks a two-man advantage, helping put Rochester up 11-9. The teams combined for 79 penalty minutes (44 for the Hawks, 35 for Toronto)

"We worked hard all night long, played from behind and it seemed like we were playing against a third team sometimes," Beisel said. "We still battled back and had a shot to win in overtime."

The Rock defence elevated its game, holding the Hawks to six even-strength goals. Watson, who has been struggling, played his best game of the season and made 35 saves. Hawks goalie Pat O'Toole was outstanding again, blocking 52 shots.

"I'm excited about that effort," Rock forward Colin Doyle said. "We were so ashamed of ourselves (Friday night). This is still a championship team and we're going to prove it."

Rock rookie Jimmy Quinlan, one of four players inserted into the lineup last night, led the team with three goals in his NLL debut. There is some concern about Rock forward Matt Shearer, who went for x-rays on his ribs after Friday's game and did not play last night.

The Rock has a week off before a back-to-back weekend set -- Feb. 11 in Minnesota against the Swarm and Feb. 12 against the Calgary Roughnecks at the ACC.


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