Three started the game, two got on the scoresheet, one got his first goal of the season; that was the impact former CUFLA players had on the Toronto Rock’s 13-12 victory over the expansion Rochester Knighthawks
If there was one object in the world that could describe the game from the perspectives of both sides, it would have do be a cardiogram. The up and down spikes and valleys of a cardiogram were similar to the status of both the Rock and Knighthawks throughout the evening.
An early goal, followed by a hefty lead and a wicked second-quarter comeback was the story of the first half. After 30 minutes, the visitors led by a single goal, but that’s not all there was to say about the first half.
One of the brightest spots of the first half was the ferocious play of former Brock Badger, Brandon Slade. Just mere minutes into the game, he barreled down a Kinghthawks defender, knocking the ball loose, before sprouting himself on a breakaway, unfortunately, he failed to hit the net, but it was the optimization of the fight that new addition, veteran forward Dan Dawson has tried to instill in his teammates.
While that chance may not have gone in the for Slade, he did find one later in the second quarter, although not nearly as miraculous fashion. It was his first goal of the season, as he opens his goal account in the fourth game of the year. He was the only CUFLA alumnus to get himself on the scoresheet in the first half, but certainly not in the game.
The second half began to look less like a cardiogram and more like a faulty car- stopping and starting. Sometimes the rock would get a lead, just to have the Knighthawks get one back. tIt began to look a lot like the games which the Rock played the last year, many of which were one or lost by at most a pair of goals.
In the third quarter, the back and forth play continued. One minute the lead was in the clutches of the Knighthawks, the next with the Rock. The only theme or trend that could be found throughout the game was the lack of any. Random, high speed, yet exciting lacrosse captured the eyes of the nearly sold-out lower bowl at Scotiabank Arena.
Slade got himself another impact on the scorecard with an assist in the third quarter, doubling his point total for the year in a single game, he now sits at four points (1G 3A). If he keeps up the newfound pace, he will disintegrate his previous career-high of 11 points that he set all the way back in his sophomore season in the league.
“It’s always nice to get started,” said the former St.Catherines athlete on opening his goal-scoring account for the season, something that he’s hoped for in the last few games. He also spoke about his physical presence in the game, saying “I’m one of the smaller guys, so it’s harder to do so- but I think I work harder than the others, so I’m able to be that tough on the floor.”
It was not until the mid-third quarter did another CUFLA alum find their way onto the scoresheet, that being Curtis Knight who put up a pair of assists for Rochester. The former Guelph Gryphons later added another assist on a powerplay to tie the game at 10-10, as well as a goal in the fourth quarter.
CUFLA talent sure affected Saturday’s game, but there was no player as thrilling of Drexel University (NCAA) grad Zach Maans, who scored four points on the day. His second goal was something of beauty, a pinpoint shot where the post meets the crossbar, taken from a fair distance away. If that goal is not a goal of the year candidate, any goal that is will have to be pretty spectacular. Maans finished the night with three goals and two assists, putting up his first career hat trick.
“I saw some net on the far side and I figured I’m just gonna shoot this one as hard as I can and hope it hits, and it hit,” Maans said regarding his goal of the year candidate. The rookie has been a great addition to the Rock, something that is not lost on their head coach, who said: “Maans has been on a good run here the last few games, he keeps getting better and better, we’re very happy to have him.”
Although the final buzzer had gone, the fighting had only just started. Multiple brawls broke out as the game came to an end, all before a pre-planned “ball throwing competition” supporting local charities. This situation led to many red balls being pelted at Rochester players, something which is rarely seen in any sporting event. The players were instructed by the referees to leave the floor without a traditional handshake, due to worries that more fisticuffs may break out in the pleasantries. There has been no word by the league yet, but don’t be surprised if a player or two see fines or suspensions due to these extracurricular activities.
With goals, fights and pelted red balls all in the rearview mirror, the two teams now look to their next games. Toronto will take the short trip south to face divisional rivals the Buffalo Bandits, before returning home to take on the former Knighthawks, or as now known the Halifax Thunderbirds in their first Alterna Cup game of the year. On the other side, Rochester will face the defending NLL champions, the Calgary Roughnecks.