Toronto (April 17, 2015) – Pat Saunders recorded a hat trick to go along with two assists and Garrett Billings had one goal and four helpers, but it was not enough as the New England Black Wolves fell to the Toronto Rock 15-12 on Friday evening at the Air Canada Centre.
Brett Bucktooth added two goals and three assists for the Black Wolves (4-10) in the loss, while Kyle Buchanan had two goals and two assists. Brett Hickey led the Rock (13-4) with eight points on three goals and five assists while Stephan Leblanc had one goal and six assists for seven points.
Hickey got the scoring started, putting the Rock up 1-0 on the power play 3:30 into play. New England pulled ahead 2-1 at the seven minute mark after goals by Jamie Lincoln and Bucktooth, but Toronto rattled off two more to take a 3-2 advantage at the end of the first quarter. Josh Sanderson put the Rock up by two, 4-2, just over two minutes into the second frame before goals by Saunders and Kyle Buchanan, separated by only 43 seconds, tied the game at 4-4. However, a shorthanded goal by Brodie Merrill would put Toronto back on top by one heading into halftime.
Saunders picked up his second goal of the game 2:41 into the second half on an assist from Billings, but the Rock rattled off four consecutive goals to take a 9-5 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the third. Kyle and Kevin Buchanan each picked up goals in the closing minutes of the frame, but Toronto added one more to lead 10-7 heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter saw a flurry of scoring, as each team picked up five goals. New England was able to cut the Toronto advantage to two at 13-11 on a Sheldon Burn’s goal, but the Rock answered back just nine seconds later to go back up by three.
The hat trick for Saunders was his fifth of the season. He has scored in every game for New England this season, the only player on the Black Wolves roster to do so, and leads the team with 30 goals. Bucktooth scored two goals for the second consecutive game. After missing the first four games due to injury, the veteran forward has scored at least two goals in six of his 10 games played. Billings, acquired from the Rock via trade on March 31st, now has 14 assists in for games for the Black Wolves.
Evan Kirk took the loss in goal for New England, giving up 15 goals on 42 shots while making 27 saves. Brandon Miller had the win for Toronto, allowing 12 goals on 70 shots while making 58 saves. The 70 shots taken by the Black Wolves is a franchise record.
New England will be in action next on Saturday, April 25th at Rochester. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.