The Rock, coming off of a win last week, were looking to bring their three game winning streak into four in a row. In front of 13,762 fans, Toronto put on their best first half of the NLL season dominating Calgary early and putting away the game winning 12-9.
The Roughnecks would draw blood first scoring on a sneaky play from behind the net by Kyle Goundrey that seemed to catch Rock goaltender Bob Watson and the Toronto defense off guard. The Rock scored twice in a 90 second span, first by Josh Sanderson and then Aaron Wilson to take the lead away from Calgary and begin to take control of the game. Wilson would score his second just over a minute later putting the Rock up by two goals and prompting the Roughnecks to replace starting goaltender Andrew Leyshon with back up goalie Ryan Avery. The Toronto defense looked particularly good keeping most of the Calgary shots on goal from outside while Watson kept everything from close at bay. Chad Thompson continued the early Rock barrage scoring a goal late in the first extending the early lead followed by Josh Sanderson’s second of the night to make it 5 -1. The Roughnecks’ Scott Ranger closed the quarter with a power play goal very late to cut the lead to three.
Chris Driscoll welcomed Andrew Leyshon back to the game with a goal to open up the second quarter followed by a bullet from Ryan Benesch. Josh Sanderson would get his hat trick midway through the period on a beautiful goal that saw its mark between three Roughneck defenders bringing the lead to six goals. Midway through the second, it looked like it would be a replay of the first but the Roughnecks seemed to catch a much needed jolt. Calgary narrowed the lead with two straight goals by forwards Tracey Kulusky and Kerry Sheshkie and waking up the quiet Saddledome crowd. Former Rock player Kaleb Toth would score later in the second period as Calgary seemed to be reenergized looking to close the lead.
The play in the third quarter seemed to get more physical and both teams tightened up. The period would prove to be a defensive battle as both teams minimized scoring to halt. Calgary would even out the shots on goal getting quite a few in the third with Watson denying everything. They would finally put one past Watson late in the third to cut the Toronto lead to three goals heading into the fourth.
Aaron Wilson scored his third goal of the game early in the fourth quarter followed a minute later by Josh Sanderson’s fourth, extending the Toronto lead to five goals before adding Wilson’s fourth for good measure shorthanded. The final period was all Toronto with Calgary seemingly breaking down on defense. The Roughnecks would add three goals in the closing minutes of the fourth but it was the Toronto Rock who came out with the win, 12-9.
The Rock offense was firing on all cylinders as they came out with eight first half goals and never looking back. Scoring led by Josh Sanderson who had nine points (4 goals, 5 assists) and Aaron Wilson who had eight points (4 goals, 4 assists).
The Roughnecks were led by Lewis Ratcliff who had five points (3 goals, 2 assists) followed by Kaleb Toth and Tracey Kelusky who both had four points each. Calgary net minder Andrew Leyshon would take the loss.
The Roughnecks, who fall to 4-4 will be looking for payback as both teams head to the Air Canada Centre for the rubber match of the home and home series tomorrow night, Saturday February 24th. The Rock (4-3) look to extend their winning streak to five games. Game time scheduled for 7:30 p.m.