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Westervelt helps Wings spoil Rock's home opener

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The Canadian Press
1/20/2013 2:32:03 AM
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TORONTO -- The Toronto Rock let victory in their home opener slip through their fingers.

Leading 7-4 with under eight minutes left Saturday, the Rock allowed the Philadelphia Wings to score the last four goals in suffering 8-7 defeat in the National Lacrosse League.

Drew Westervelt scored the winner with 10.9 seconds remaining in front of a shocked gathering of 11,703 at Air Canada Centre.

"It's hard not to feel we let one get away," Rock captain Colin Doyle said. "It's disappointing.

"A couple of lapses and that was it. We cannot let that happen at home. Maybe we counted the two points before they were there."

Westervelt was so close to the crease on the winner that a video review was required. The goal stood, keeping the Wings undefeated (2-0) and sending Toronto (2-1) to its first defeat of the young season.

"I was fortunate to bury one on the short side," said Westervelt, who has had his fair share of goals disallowed for crease incursions over the years. "I've been thinking about my feet a lot but when I saw the replay it looked good so I wasn't worried."

Kevin Crowley led the Wings with three goals, Westervelt got two and Brodie Merrill, Joel White and Kevin Ross added one each.

"It's a big win for us on many levels," said Merrill, a Toronto resident who captains the Wings. "It's early and we're still trying to grow as a team but it's nice to have some early success especially with so much (lineup) turnover from last year. It's a good sign when you're able to come back, especially against a great team like the Toronto Rock, who I feel may be the top team in our league."

Doyle, with two, Josh Sanderson, Stephan Leblanc, Pat Merrill, Kasey Beirnes and Garrett Billings scored for the Rock.

Until Philadelphia's late fireworks, the game's storyline was all about the goaltending of the Rock's Nick Rose and the Wings' Brandon Miller. Both are from Orangeville, Ont., where 12 years ago Rose was the water boy for the Jr. A Northmen when Miller was their Minto Cup goalie.

Toronto led 3-1 at halftime. Four goals in one half in a league that usually sees 10 or 12 was an indication of the calibre of goaltending.

Toronto looked to have the game in hand when Doyle struck for goals at 3:48 and at 7:36 of the fourth quarter to put his team up 7-4.

"We had them right where we wanted them," said Rock defenceman Rob Marshall.

Miller had a moment of doubt.

"When Colin scored their seventh goal, I thought we were in a bit of trouble," said Miller. "I got caught leaning on that one but my teammates bailed me out."

White started the Wings' rally with an unassisted goal at 9:02, Ross bounced a ball past Rose as he ran past the net at 9:32 and Crowley broke ahead of defenceman Chris White to take a Ned Crotty pass and tie it at 12:46.

Overtime loomed, but with the last seconds ticking away, Westervelt delivered the sensational winning shot.

"We gutted that one out," said Crowley. "(Miller) stood on his head for us. We came into the locker-room (at halftime) with the confidence that we could tie it and luckily Drew stuck that goal at the end."

Rose was disappointed with the result.

"It's pretty frustrating to lose that way," he said. "(Westervelt) has been doing that his whole career. He knows how to tippy-toe the crease."

Wings coach Johnny Mouradian marvelled at how his players maintained their composure in the fourth quarter.

"We were a little nervous in the first half. We had about 10 unforced turnovers in the first quarter and a half and then we settled down," he said. "Our (forwards) really felt like they could get the job done and our D was closing the door. I'm really proud of our guys. They worked hard."

So did Doyle and his teammates, but they didn't get the result they wanted.

"We played really good for about 55 minutes," Rock defenceman Cam Woods said. "It's a lesson we've got many times before. (If) you don't play the full 60 minutes, you don't get the result you're looking for. We took our foot off the gas for a few minutes and lost focus and back to the drawing board we go."

Notes: Toronto had a 59-56 edge in shots on goal. ... Beirnes' sixth goal of the year was his 200th point in a Rock uniform. ... Toronto scratches: D Damon Edwards, F Rob Hellyer, F Brandon Ivey. ... Philadelphia scratches: F Jordan Hall, T Rob Campbell, D Brian Teuber. ... Toronto is at home against Minnesota next Friday and in Rochester on Saturday. ... Philadelphia is at Buffalo next Saturday.

Drew Westervelt (Photo: Larry Palumbo)

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(Photo: Larry Palumbo)
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