TORONTO - For several years, the Toronto Rock had trouble winning in Rochester. On Saturday, they showed the city had become much friendlier to them in recent times.
Eight points from Garrett Billings, five in the second quarter alone, powered the Rock to a 13-7 win over the Rochester Knighthawks for their first win in four starts. It was also the eighth consecutive win over the K-Hawks going back to 2010 and their third at Blue Cross Arena after losing in their first 12 trips there.
It was also a successful debut for goaltender Nick Rose, making the start for the Rock after being acquired from the Calgary Roughnecks on Tuesday.
The two teams put on a defensive display in the opening quarter, rarely allowing for more than one shot on goal on any offensive possession. Jarrett Davis gave the home side a 1-0 lead ten minutes in, getting a shot past Rose while lying on his side after a check.
The difference in the game was arguably the Rock's most complete quarter of the season. Seemingly having possession for most of the second period, Billings set up Brendan Thenhaus for two goals in the first five minutes. Billings' assist on the second goal was a lovely behind-the-back pass to Thenhaus who was alone in front of Knighthawks goalkeeper Matt Vinc.
Colin Doyle scored on the power play as a result of some good ball movement then Billings scored twice to give them a 5-1 lead heading to the halftime break. The Rock outshot Rochester 18-8 in the quarter and held the Knighthawks to a season-low 15 shots for the half. The bright spot for Rochester was Vinc who prevented the damage from being a lot worse.
The Rock kept the beat going after the break. Dan Carey scored early in the quarter then Doyle got his second goal three minutes later to increase the lead to 7-1. Kasey Beirnes added one more to make it 8-1. After Davis cut the lead to 8-2, Carey scored short-handed on a breakout pass from Billings. Craig Point scored and Vinc made a key save at the buzzer to keep the Knighthawks within six after three quarters.
Beirnes added his second just seconds into the final period. After Cory Vitarelli made it 10-4, Carey completed his hat trick. Doyle's assist on that goal gave him 700 for his NLL career.
Point added his second and Cody Jamieson added two to complete the Rochester scoring. Doyle and Stephan Leblanc completed the scoring for Toronto.
The Rock (5-6) outshot Rochester 55-35. They will travel to Buffalo next Saturday for a date with the Bandits.