The Rochester Knighthawks tried to come back in the fourth quarter, but fell just short in a 10-8 loss to the Toronto Rock this afternoon at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto will now meet the Buffalo Bandits in the East Division Finals on Saturday, May 7th at 7:30 p.m. at HSBC Arena.
Rochester got a stellar effort in goal from Matt Vinc who made 44 saves and allowed his team to climb back into the game. The Knighthawks were led by Shawn Williams (1+3), Shawn Evans (2+2), Jordan Hall (2+3) and Cody Jamieson. Rochester rallied with five of the game’s last seven goals over the final 20 minutes.
Toronto, who fell behind early, led for nearly three quarters. The Rock erased a 3-1 first-quarter deficit with five straight goals to take a 6-3 lead into halftime. Garrett Billings led the way with two goals and one assist as part of a six-point night (3+3). Three penalties hurt Rochester in the second as the Rock took advantage of two power-play opportunities. Billings scored for Toronto’s first lead of the game. Pat Merrill then scored a shorthanded goal as Vinc lost ball security as it trickled past the goal line. Billings get his second goal of the game and put Toronto up 6-3 going into the half.
In the third, Toronto would extend the run to 7-0 to pull ahead 8-3 as Billings completed the hat trick and Blaine Manning added his lone goal of the night. Mike Accursi (2+0) notched the K-Hawks' fourth goal at 10:52 to end a scoreless drought that covered 30 minutes. Bob Watson played well with 33 saves on 41 shots.
Rochester then scored two more goals to start the fourth quarter to cut the lead down to two as Jordan Hall scored on a penalty shot at 2:30. After a Doyle goal, Shawn Evans scored a power-play goal at 5:39 to trim the deficit to 9-7. The Rock captain completed the hat trick at 12:05 to extend the lead to 10-7. Rochester scored its last goal with 36 seconds to play to make it 10-8.
Rochester ended the season 10-6, which was the most regular season wins since 2007. The Knighthawks also tied a team record with six road wins. The playoff berth was their first since 2009.
The Rock advanced to their second straight East Division Finals. They also own a 5-2 playoff record against Rochester and are still perfect in Toronto with a 4-0 mark.