The socks were flying Friday night in a pair of National Lacrosse League games. Garrett Billings posted a sock trick in Toronto, scoring 6 goals and adding 4 assists to lead the Rock to a 17-12 win over the Calgary Roughnecks (4-3). Mark Matthews pulled the trick in Edmonton. His 6 goals, along with 1 assist, were instrumental in the Rush’s 15-10 win over the Washington Stealth. The pair of five-goal wins were a rarity in this season of parity in the NLL and both games had direct impacts on the races for first in the league’s two divisions, as well as keeping Toronto in first place overall in the league, a position the Roughnecks would have taken over with a win.
Toronto extended their lead atop the East Division by moving to 6-2 as they reached the halfway point of their season, and Billings extended his lead atop the scoring race, bumping his total to 50 points (15g, 35a) by showing off his shooting skills after establishing himself as arguably the best passer in the game in setting the single-season assists record last year. Billings scored on a sub shot from outside just before the buzzer ended the first quarter to pull the Rock within 5-3 at the end of a frame in which they were outplayed and lucky to be as close as they were.
There was no luck involved the rest of the way for the Rock. After allowing the first goal of the second quarter, they outscored the Roughnecks 14-6 the rest of the way. Billings put on a shooting clinic to lead the charge. He whipped home a gorgeous behind the back shot to start the Toronto run then scored on a pair of nearly identical high-to-high rockets from deep in the shooter spot near the end of the half. He potted a long-range quick-stick in the third and another bomb in the fourth.
Colin Doyle also had a big night for the Rock, scoring 3 goals and adding 4 assists. Stephan Leblanc and Josh Sanderson each scored 2 goals and 2 assists. Jesse Gamble continued to establish himself as one of the league’s best transition men by having another strong game and burying a pair of twisters on breakaways.
One of the major differences in the game was discipline. Both teams were deadly on the power play; Toronto just had a lot more chances to take advantage of. The Rock went 9 for 12 with the extra man while Calgary was 2 for 3.
Toronto’s domination from the second quarter on overshadowed a big night from Calgary’s Dane Dobbie, who had a hat trick in the first quarter and totalled 5 goals and 2 assists for the night. Shawn Evans posted 4 assists for the Riggers. That meant that Billings took over the points-per-game lead in the NLL in a tight race. Billings now sits at 6.25 ppg, John Grant, Jr. at 6.2 and Evans at 6.14.
Meanwhile in the West Division, Matthews’ big night kept the Stealth from leapfrogging Calgary for first place and gave Edmonton (2-4) its second win of the year, both over Washington (4-4). The Rush outshot the Stealth 61-35 and outscored them in each of the first three quarters on the way to the victory, which was aided by Ryan Ward’s 2 goals and 4 assists.
Matthews moved into second in the league with 18 goals, but Rhys Duch stayed ahead of him by potting 4 goals last night to go along with 4 assists, making him the game-high scorer. Athan Iannucci added 2 goals and 2 assists for Washington.
Rate This Story: