January 8, 2011

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Watson, Rock Stump Rush in Opener

from staff reports

TORONTO – Bob Watson was in midseason form on the first night of the 2011 National Lacrosse League season, stopping 36 of 43 shots as the Toronto Rock defeated the Edmonton Rush, 13-7. A three-goal second quarter run put the Rock ahead for good.
 
Captain Colin Doyle scored the first goal of the game for Toronto, but Edmonton stayed right with Toronto in the early going.
 
Stephan Leblanc, Kasey Beirnes and Garrett Billings scored three straight goals breaking open a 5-5 tie in the second quarter.  Gavin Prout cashed in for the visiting Rush to draw Edmonton to within two goals at the half trailing 8-6.
 
Leblanc, who is in his sophomore NLL season, scored his third goal of the game to open the second half scoring.  Leblanc has scored in all 20 NLL games he has played, which includes the postseason.
 
Toronto held a 10-6 lead after three quarters as the only other goal of the quarter was scored by Rock veteran Blaine Manning.  Bob Watson stopped all 13 Rush shots he faced in the quarter.
 
Watson continued his stingy goaltending throughout the fourth quarter as Edmonton was kept off the board until there was just 4:32 remaining in the final frame.
 
“He was seeing the ball real well,” head coach Troy Cordingley said of Watson.  “We are real lucky to have him back.” 
 
11,564 fans took this year’s Rock home opener at the Air Canada Centre.
 
“The crowd was good and lively,” said Cordingley.  “With more wins, more fans will come.”
 
Drew Petkoff scored in the late going for the Rock into an empty net.  The goal was the first of Petkoff’s NLL career after failing to score in 12 games during his rookie season of 2010.
 
Rookie Aaron Pascas also experienced a first as his first career NLL goal fell in the first quarter.
 
“It was really good to shake off nerves in the early going,” said Pascas.  “Nothing beats scoring on your first shift in front of your home fans.”
 
The Rock will travel to Rochester next weekend to face the Knighthawks on Saturday night at 7:30pm. Saturday night’s game can be seen live on TSN2.


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