Toronto, ON – The Edmonton Rush (6-4) defeated the Toronto Rock (10-3) by a score of 11-9 to hand the Rock their first loss of the season at home on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
After over 12 minutes with just one goal on the board on the home side, Edmonton crept ahead 2-1 with a pair of goals 48 seconds apart. Toronto's Kasey Beirnes tied the score with 49 seconds left in the first quarter to finish the opening 15 minutes tied 2-2.
Robert Church opened the second quarter scoring 3:36 into the quarter, giving the Rush a 3-2 lead. The Rock took advantage of a high sticking major assessed to Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson to bag a couple of powerplay markers in the late stages of the first half to lead 4-3 at halftime.
Just prior to the end of the first half, Rock leading scorer Rob Hellyer left the game with an upper body injury and did not return. He will be evaluated this week to determine the severity of the injury.
The Rock stretched their lead to 2 goals when Nick Diachenko, taking some reps on offence in place of the injured Hellyer, scored on a great solo effort. Edmonton answered four straight goals to take a 7-5 lead. In the final minute, with the Rock needing a spark, Kevin Ross took the ball to the net and scored from a very difficult angle. Brett Hickey scored with just 3 seconds left to tie the score 7-7 heading to the final quarter.
Toronto carried that momentum into the early portion of the fourth quarter, scoring twice to lead 9-7. However, that was the end of the Rock scoring and Edmonton scored four straight, including an empty-netter, to seal the win.
Toronto goal scorers were Hickey (3), Ross (2), Diachenko (1), Stephan Leblanc (1), Sanderson (1), Beirnes (1).
Brandon Miller suffered just his second loss of the season, as his record drops to 6-2 after a 37-save effort. Aaron Bold stopped 43 saves and was named the game's first star.
Toronto's next game will be one week from tonight when they face the Calgary Roughnecks on the road at 9:00 pm ET. The Rock returns home on Friday, April 3rd for a pivotal East Division showdown with the Rochester Knighthawks on Alumni Night at Air Canada Centre.
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LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Two games, two 1st Star of the Game honors. That's the story for Colorado Mammoth forward Jeremy Noble (4g, 2a) who's been named the top player in his first two career games in the National Lacrosse League. But in Saturday night's 14-11 Mammoth win over the Vancouver Stealth at Langley Events Centre in British Columbia, it was Noble's teammates who stole the show.
Defenseman Joey Cupido, who tied a career-high with three goals (which he previously set in January the last time Colorado played in Vancouver), continued his sensational season. And forward John Grant, Jr. moved into second in points on the NLL's all-time list.
"It's really not about the personal-high; it's about getting the win," said Cupido, who leads all NLL defensemen with 13 tallies. "I just try to do whatever I can to help us win and tonight it was score."
Goaltender Dillon Ward was dominant for the second straight game, recording 39 saves including many of the highlight-reel variety.
"Dillon was great, and last game he was great!" said coach Pat Coyle. "What's awesome about Dillon is he didn't have his best game against Toronto (on March 6). You know that he's going to come back. He takes that personally. He really shut the door the last two games. I think easily we could have lost those games if it wasn't for Dillon."
A week ago, Ward stopped 41 shots in Colorado's 12-8 win over Minnesota. In that contest, Grant moved into fourth all-time in career assists. Fast-forward to Saturday as the captain ascended the points list.
"I don't know why they keep giving me these balls – I'm not first in anything," said a light-hearted Grant, who was given the milestone lacrosse balls this week and last. "Fourth in one thing (assists), second in another (points) ... we won, that's all I care about."
Make it two straight for the second-place Mammoth, which opened a 1.5 game lead over the Stealth in the West Division.
Colorado forward Adam Jones, who tied a career-high with six assists against Vancouver on January 24, matched the total again on Saturday. He also added two goals.
Defenseman Cam Holding had two caused turnovers to give him 19 on the year, tying his career-best total from a season ago. His two assists (both on Cupido goals) set a new career-high with 17. When Cupido was asked after the game about Holding's assist on his goal, the response was true to form.
"Which one?" Cupido asked, chuckling. "Cam's been feeding me all year. It's like we know what each other's doing. As soon as I see or think he's going to get it, I'm gone and he finds me every time. We have good chemistry right now and it's really clicking."
Trailing 3-2 early in the second quarter, Colorado went on a 7-1 run to open up a 9-4 advantage midway through the third. Vancouver responded, scoring six of the next seven to tie the game at 10 1:46 into the final frame. But the Mammoth answered back, netting four of the last five to seal the deal.
The teams meet again next Sunday, March 29 at 6:00 pm MT at Pepsi Center on Gavin Prout Jersey Retirement Night.