Toronto, ON – It was the League’s second All-Canadian battle Friday night, as respective Division leaders Toronto Rock played host to the Calgary Roughnecks in an important tilt for both teams. After an emotional and heart-warming salute to GTA police officers, firefighters and emergency workers, Canadian pride surged through the appreciative crowd of 17,141 at the Air Canada Centre.
It seemed only fitting that the Rock jumped out to an early lead with a power-play goal from Colin Doyle at 2:28. Calgary, however, had other ideas. Two Rock penalties, a minor and bench penalty resulted in a rare occurrence – a penalty shot. The Roughnecks rattled off three straight goals, led by Lewis Ratcliff, who finished the surge with back-to-back goals to give the visitors a 5-2 lead. Toronto responded with three unanswered – Manning, Driscoll and Doyle – to even the score 5-5 at the end of the first. The pace of the game flipped dramatically in the second as the offensive outburst was replaced with only one goal from each team.
The Rock had badly out-shot the Roughnecks, but was forced to rally to end the half to remain tied. The passing was crisp, but the finishing was rough. Toronto like to establish the inside game, setting picks for forwards to peel off towards the opposing net. Midway through the third the strategy began to pay off. The Rock outscored Calgary 3-2 in the quarter with spark plug Chris Driscoll providing the jumpstart. But the game was decided in just over seven minutes of play in the 4th quarter. This time it was defenseman Pat Merrill’s thundering hit on Calgary’s Brad MacDonald that provided the spark. With both players in the box, the Rock began to break down the Rigger defense, shredding it with pinpoint passes to spring Doyle, Wilson, Sanderson and Shearer. Even Phil Sanderson got into the act, providing the exclamation point on a six-goal outburst. Final score? Rock 16, Roughnecks 10. Rock top scorers were Colin Doyle (5G, 3A), Aaron Wilson (3G, 4A) and Josh Sanderson (1G, 6A).
Join the Rock for their next home game Sunday, April 10th as they take on the Philadelphia Wings. Tickets are available for the game that features the annual mascot night and Toronto Sun Autograph session. Ticketmaster outlets online at www.ticketmaster.ca , by phone at (416) 872 5000, or at the Box Office at the Air Canada Centre.