CALGARY – The Toronto Rock won its second consecutive game and picked up their first road win of the season in an impressive 14-10 victory over their Western rivals, the Calgary Roughnecks at the Pengrowth Saddledome Sunday afternoon.
Blaine Manning, named the Future Shop / Toshiba player of the game, led the Rock with five goals and two assists, while Bob Watson made 39 saves, several of a jaw-dropping variety.
Watson’s fine form and Manning’s gritty performance earned the praise of head coach and general manager Terry Sanderson following the game.
“It was a much better effort,” Sanderson said. “It’s just what we’re used to seeing, some solid goaltending, outstanding defence and a big effort from one of our big three guys with Blaine Manning scoring five times.”
Manning Made Mayhem for Roughnecks Goalies
Manning was pleased with his effort but credits his teammates for getting him open looks.
“It’s good to be back on track,” he told Rogers Sportsnet after the game. “I got some good shots early, some lucky ones, so it definitely helped (to play well) today.”
Manning’s second goal was sensational.
With the shot clock winding down, Manning took a pass from Josh Sanderson and looked for an opening. With Roughnecks defenders Craig Gelsvik and Jeff Moleski playing him to his weak side, Manning let off a one-handed shot with his left and weaker hand to squeeze the ball past Roughnecks goalie Curtis Palidwor and chase him from the game.
More importantly, Manning’s goal gave the Rock a 6-2 lead and helped the Rock to re-establish momentum.
“It was pretty lucky… (but) I work on that move, I try and turn and shoot left handed,” Manning said. “I could only get my left hand on my stick. It was lucky to go over (Palidwor’s) shoulder.”
Manning hopes this win gets the Rock back on track for good.
Tough challenges ahead for Rock
“It took a lot of character to win, we played a good team that had a lot of fire power,” he said. “It’s a tough division… We’re going to have to work hard to keep pace. We dug ourselves a hole early on and now to really work hard to get ourselves out of it.”
Manning only had six goals entering the game with a team-high 51 shots, his scoring slump is now over.
Toronto hosts the Rochester Knighthawks in their next game, a 7:30 p.m. ball drop on Friday Feb. 10 at the Air Canada Centre. Rochester won the first meeting between the division rivals, so Toronto will be very focussed to beat the K-hawks with head-to-head within the division becoming more important as playoff positions become more of a premium with all five Eastern Division teams in the hunt for four playoff spots.
Feb. 5 Game Recap
The Calgary game was seen as a must-win affair.
The rivalry was expected to result in a flurry of fisticuffs, but there were only three fights on the day, two when the game was all but decided with a four-goal Rock lead in the fourth quarter.
Early on, Roughnecks pest Jesse Phillips backed down from Rock enforcer and Fight Club champion Timmy O’Brien, who looked to give the Rock the spark early on with some retribution from a fight he had with Rock Captain Jim Veltman last season.
Calgary opened the scoring after Kaleb Toth beat Rock defenders Dan Ladouceur and Ian Rubel on a clever pick-and-roll play just under two minutes into play.
But NLL leading scorer Colin Doyle responded just seconds later with Toronto collecting the loose ball off the faceoff and getting the ball to Doyle who beat his man one-on-one to tie the game.
Josh Sanderson put the Rock up 2-1 on the powerplay less than a minute later.
With Rock rookie J.J. Dickie in box midway through opening quarter, Watson made four great saves to keep the Rock up by one.
Chris Driscoll exploded off a missed shot from Taylor Wray to score a shorthanded goal to lift the Rock to a 3-1 lead late in the quarter.
In the second quarter, Calgary pulled within goal after a Tracey Kelusky shot caromed off the boards and hit Bob Watson in the back of the leg and trickled into the net.
Manning cut through the middle a couple of minutes later and took a Josh Sanderson feed to pot his first goal of the game. And then on a delayed penalty, Josh Sanderson threaded the ball into the middle to Colin Doyle who slipped past Moleski to put in low on Palidwor for the 5-2 lead.
After Palidwor was chased, back up keeper Andrew Leyshon didn’t fare much better as Aaron Wilson put the first shot past him just under 30 seconds in his duty.
The Rock led 7-3 at the half.
Manning scored once again after a sloppy opening to the third quarter, but Phillips pushed off Chris Driscoll in close, knocking down the defender before he dove across him to bury one past Watson.
But Manning tallied his fourth of the game just 44 seconds later to give the Rock a 9-3 lead.
Kelusky, with one of his four goals on the day, and Lewis Ratcliff scored to bring Calgary within three, but Toronto pulled away again late in the quarter with a spectacular effort from Doyle and Wilson.
Double teamed in front, Doyle, the reigning NLL MVP and leading scorer, let off an ackward shot and Wilson picked up the rebound and buried it for his second goal of the game to re-establish a four-goal Rock lead.
The Roughnecks made it a four-goal game once again after Moleski and O’Brien fought at centre floor with a pretty goal from Kelusky, but Patrick Merrill would score his first goal of the season on an empty net to seal the victory.
Penalty Kill perfect for Rock
The Rock’s penalty kill was ranked 10th out of 11 teams entering the game, but held off the Calgary powerplay on five attempts including one 5-on-3 advantage late in the second quarter… The Rock’s powerplay struggled, entering the game fourth-best in the league, they just managed one goal on four attempts.
“Our powerplay didn’t help us at all, but our shorthand unit was great,” said Sanderson. “I was pleased with the penalty kill.”
Veltman picks up 2,000th career loose ball
Rock captain Jim Veltman scooped up his 2,000th career loose ball with 6:55 left in opening quarter. The merit of the stat is equated to key of rebounds in basketball and the next closest player to Veltman on the all-time list is Buffalo Bandits veteran John Tavares. He has 1,547 loose balls.
ROCK 14, ROUGHNECKS 10
(At Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary)
1. Calgary Toth (Phillips, Wulder) 1:14
2. Toronto Doyle (Manning, Merrill) 1:33
3. Toronto J.Sanderson (Wilson, Manning) 4:26 pp
4. Toronto Driscoll (P. Sanderson) 9:30 sh
Penalties – Toronto MacDonald (roughing) 1:48; Calgary McBride (slashing) 3:24; Toronto Dickie (checking from behind) 4:56; Calgary Gelsvik (holding) 7:34; Toronto Manning (holding) 8:17; Toronto Veltman (roughing) 14:58; Calgary Kelusky (roughing) 14:58.
5. Calgary Kelusky (Goundrey, McBride) 3:28
6. Toronto Manning (Wilson, Merrill) 5:47
7. Toronto Doyle 2 (J. Sanderson) 7:17 ea
8. Toronto Manning 2 (Doyle, J. Sanderson) 8:29
9. Toronto Wilson (J. Sanderson, Doyle) 8:53
10. Calgary Ratcliff (T. Wray) 12:07
Penalties – Toronto Campbell (fighting major) 11:45; Calgary Green (fighting major) 11:45; Toronto Merrill (checking from behind) 12:17; Toronto Dickie (interference) 12:17; Calgary Ratcliff (interference) 15:00.
11. Toronto Manning 3 (J. Sanderson, Kruger) 2:17
12. Calgary Phillips (D. Wray, Green) 8:51
13. Toronto Manning 4 (Doyle, Veltman) 9:36
14. Calgary Ratcliff 2 (Goundrey, Wulder) 11:51 ea
15. Calgary Toth (T.Wray) 13:35
16. Toronto Wilson 2 (Doyle, J. Sanderson) 14:45
Penalty – Calgary Kelusky (interference) 4:19.
17. Toronto Campbell (Suddons) 1:14
18. Calgary Kelusky 2 (Goundry, Ratcliff) 1:37
19. Toronto Manning 5 (J. Sanderson) 5:16
20. Calgary Ratcliff 3 (Phillips) 7:41
21. Toronto J. Sanderson 2 (Veltman, P. Sanderson) 8:14
22. Calgary Kelusky 3 (Toth) 9:58
23. Toronto Merrill (P. Sanderson, MacDonald) 13:52 en
24. Calgary Kelusky 4 (Ratcliff, Gillespie) 14:52
Penalties – Toronto O’Brien (fighting major) 9:49; Calgary Moleski (fighting major) 9:49; Toronto Dickie (fighting major) 13:56; Calgary McNish (fighting major) 13:56.
Scoring 1 2 3 4 T
Toronto 3 4 3 4 14
Calgary 1 2 3 4 10
Shots on Goal: 1 2 3 4 T
Toronto 15 12 16 10 53
Calgary 13 15 9 11 49
Loose Balls: Toronto 75; Calgary 69.
Goalies: Toronto – Watson (W, 2-4) 39 saves, 49 shots; Calgary – Palidwor (L, 3-3) 21 saves on 28 shots, and Leyshon (L 0-1, 8:29 second-5:16 fourth) 18 saves on 24 shots.
Powerplays: Toronto – 1/4; Buffalo – 0/5.
Referees – Bill Fox, Duane Zeelenberg and Todd Lorenz.
Attendance – 9,911.