Former Rock forward Mat Giles scored in overtime with a second remaining on the shot clock to lift the Chicago Shamrox to a 13-12 victory last night at the Air Canada Centre.
Losing Bob Watson never is a good thing for the Rock. Losing the five-time champion goaltender with only three games left in a playoff chase tighter than a pair of jeans two sizes too small, could have been devastating. Instead, the Rock's inability to finish in close once again proved to be the team's downfall.
Watson, the team's best player this and many other seasons -- out because of an ankle injury suffered at work Thursday -- was replaced by Mike Poulin, who kept the Rock in the game by making several exceptional saves.
Matt Roik was excellent for the Shamrox, now 5-7 after four straight victories and just a game back of the 7-7 Rock.
Toronto didn't helped its cause by hitting the crossbar or posts at least a half-dozen times, including a Blaine Manning attempt as time expired in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Glenn Clark was frustrated that the Rock lost, despite outshooting Chicago 62-49.
"For whatever reason, we're not capitalizing," he said. "We're getting some great looks."
The snakebitten Manning, managed three goals on a whopping 16 shots.
"I think I personally had like five posts," he said.
"A couple of those go in, it's a different game."
Lewis Ratcliff and Manning led the Rock with six points. Ryan Benesch added two goals and three assists for the Shamrox.
After a sloppy opening five minutes, the Rock scored three in a row, but in a pattern to be repeated all night, the Shamrox fought back, netting five unanswered.
The loss, coupled with wins by the New York Titans and Rochester Knighthawks , dropped the Rock from fourth to sixth in the East. Only the top four teams make the playoffs.
Watson said he was aiming for a Saturday return against the Calgary Roughnecks.