Uncasville – Kevin Crowley recorded his seventh hat trick of the season and extended his scoring streak to 30 games, but the Toronto Rock used a late scoring flurry to pull away for a 14-9 victory over the New England Black Wolves in front of 5,832 at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday night.
The Black Wolves (6-5) were within 10-9 after Callum Crawford scored with just under 10 minutes remaining.
But Reid Reinholdt started a run of Toronto goals with 7:40 left on the clock. Adam Jones pushed the Rock lead to 12-9 with four minutes left and Rob Hellyer iced the game with 2:53 to go. Kieran McArdle added an empty-netter to close out the scoring.
Stephan Leblanc had two goals and four assists, and Johnny Powless had two goals and an assist. But that was not enough to match the Rock, as five Toronto players scored multiple goals with McArdle (three goals, two assists) leading the way. Hellyer had seven assists to go with his goal, and Jones finished with two goals and five assists.
Last Sunday, New England beat the Rock 8-7 in a hard-fought battle that went to overtime at the Air Canada Centre to even the season series at 1-1. That raised the stakes for this final meeting of the regular season, with the winner earning the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Toronto (6-6) still trails first place New England in the East Division.
New England looked sharp early on, responding to a Toronto goal in the first minute by scoring three of the next four goals during a frantic span of one minute, 52 seconds. In that time, Powless, Leblanc and Crowley scored for the Black Wolves while Brett Hickey scored for the Rock.
Rookie Anthony Joaquim gave the Black Wolves a 4-3 lead after the first quarter when he went the length of the field in transition for his first career goal in the 13th minute. And when Leblanc scored 42 seconds into the second quarter to make it 5-3, it looked as if the New England offense was about to break the game open.
But Toronto scored five straight goals to build an 8-5 halftime lead, and Rock forward Dan Lintner answered a Crowley goal – the veteran forward collected his 500th career point by converting on a beautiful feed from Powless – early in the third quarter with two of his own to make it 10-6 with 6:15 gone in the third quarter.
New England gradually chipped away at that deficit, getting to within 10-9 on goals by Powless and Crowley in the third quarter, and Crawford in the fourth.
That’s when the Rock went on one final scoring run to put the game away.
New England returns home next Friday when it celebrates Hometown Heroes, hosting the Buffalo Bandits at 7:30 p.m.