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Rock clinches NLL East title with victory over Rochester

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The Canadian Press
4/7/2013 6:11:40 PM
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TORONTO -- Kasey Beirnes scored three goals and Garrett Billings, Stephan Leblanc and Josh Sanderson got two each as the Toronto Rock led all the way in defeating Rochester 10-9 and clinching the NLL East title Sunday.

Roger Vyse also scored for the Rock (10-5), who can finish first overall by completing their 16-game schedule with a win in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Captain Colin Doyle did not suit up against the Knighthawks as he was with his wife who was giving birth to their third child, a daughter.

Dan Dawson and Johnny Powless scored two each and Cody Jamieson, Mike Accursi, Cory Vitarelli, Joe Walters and Joel McCready got one each for the Knighthawks (6-7).

Toronto outshot Rochester 54-42.

Rock excellence on power plays was pivotal as they went 3-for-5 while Rochester as 0-for-3.

The Rock went up 3-0 in front of a season-best Air Canada Centre crowd of 13,073 when NLL points leader Billings scored with an over-the-back shot destined for a highlight reel. Beirnes got an assist on the power-play goal for his 500th career point. Toronto led 5-3 after one quarter.

Nick Rose stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced in the second quarter and Sanderson scored both Rock goals to enable them to take a 7-4 lead into the halftime break.

In the third quarter, Vitarelli sent an overhand shot off a post and in at the 59-second mark, Vyse beat Vinc with an overhand bouncer on a power play at 2:33, Powless darted past Stephen Hoar to get clear for a Mike Accursi pass that set him up for a goal at 5:08 and that was it. Toronto led 8-6 after three.

Vinc stuck out his right leg to stop a Jesse Gamble breakaway shot and when the ball went the other way Accursi scored a short-handed goal while falling into the crease at 1:03, but Toronto regained a two-goal edge, 9-7, when Leblanc whipped a bouncer past Vinc on a power play at 2:00.

Beirnes burst through a seam to take a Vyse pass and squeeze a ball between Vinc's left arm and the post at 6:32.

The Knighthawks weren't going way and when McCready beat Rose with a shot from Whitby at 7:14 it was again a two-goal game. Dawson put a ball behind Rose and, when crew chief Todd Labranche waved it off for a crease encroachment, Knighthawks coach Mike Hasen threw the orange challenge flag. It struck Labranche in the chest. Hasen held up his hands as if to say, 'Sorry. That was accidental.' Labranche bought the apology, and he also seconded his no-goal ruling after studying video.

Dawson scored short side while falling into the crease at 13:36. Rock coach Troy Cordingley challenged to no avail. It was 10-9 with 1:24 remaining.

The Rock held on and won it.

Toronto will be at home for an East semifinal game on Sunday, April 28, regardless of the outcome in Philadelphia.

NOTES: Billings has an NLL-best 98 points, six more than Calgary's Shawn Evans . . . Besides Doyle, Toronto deleted Scott Evans and Scott Johnston . . . Rochester scratched Craig Point, Jon Sullivan and Jimmy Purves . . . Kyle Belton was back in the lineup after sitting out the previous two games . . . Defenceman Pat Merrill received the Les Bartley Award for inspirational team leadership.

Toronto Rock celebrate (Photo: Graig Abel/NLL)

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(Photo: Graig Abel/NLL)
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