Thunderbirds come up short against Rock in East Semi-Final
May 6, 2023
HAMILTON, ON (May 5, 2023) -- A late comeback bid from the Halifax Thunderbirds came up short of the mark, dropping the East Division Semi-Final to the Toronto Rock by a 15-11 score at FirstOntario Centre on Friday night.
The game opened with a goal from Stephen Keogh, who scored just 1:06 into the first quarter to get the hosts on the board. He was quickly followed by an answer from Graeme Hossack, who got the ball off the ensuing draw and took it the distance for the tying goal. The teams remained deadlocked at one until the 3:36 mark when Corey Small added a second goal. Zach Manns got another just 18 seconds later to make it a 3-1 game after a quarter of play.
Toronto's lead grew further to open the second when Dan Dawson got on the board at the 13:16 mark. Chris Boushy got his first of the night shortly after, but Small made it 5-2 with his second of the night.
But heading into the half, Halifax made a run, scoring the final three goals of the second to tie things up. Randy Staats made the most of a Power-Play opportunity, getting his first. Ryan Benesch added another and then David Brock capped off the second with a shot from the outside in transition.
Tied at five at the half, the game was up for grabs.
But Toronto began to swing the momentum in the third quarter, aided by a 4-1 goal advantage in the frame. Dan Craig got it started, while Small, Latrell Harris, and Keogh added on. A Staats goal split up that Rock run, however, it came at the 10:06 mark of the third.
Going into the final 15 minutes of regulation down 9-6, Halifax needed another big fourth quarter to pull the game out.
The Thunderbirds looked to erase the deficit but surrendered a pair to Craig and Manns to open the fourth. But a three-goal via Staats and Boushy brought the game to within two goals.
Manns and Benesch traded goals before Halifax opted to pull Hill for the extra attacker in the closing stages. Unfortunately for the Thunderbirds, Toronto capitalized with three empty-net goals to salt the game away.