Toronto, ON – The Canadian lacrosse showdown happened in front of 17,240 spirited fans at the Air Canada Centre as the Toronto Rock took on the defending NLL Champions, the Calgary Roughnecks. The Rocks second game in as many nights combined intense passing, rock solid back-checking, and rapid transition play as Toronto looked to seal their third win in a row.
It was Ladies Night and the hometown fans kept the Rock positive after two quick long shots found the mesh past Toronto’s veteran goaltender, Bob Watson. With Calgary up 2-0, the Rock needed a solid turnaround to halt the visiting Roughnecks. Aaron Wilson got the Rock on the board with a sniper goal from the top of the crease. A Calgary power play proved unsuccessful as Matt Shearer’s forceful fore-checking allowed Blaine Manning to score on a spectacular one-hand, bad angle shot. The Prairie Dog tied the score at 2, beating Curtis Palidwor over his left shoulder. Toronto took advantage of a Roughneck penalty, putting one away after some very impressive rapid- fire passing. Captain Jim Veltman finished the passing sequence and put the Rock on top 3-2 with just 13 seconds remaining in the quarter. With Calgary’s goaltender on the bench, the Rock nearly put an empty- netter away, but time had expired. Nonetheless, the players, and the fans, were fired-up and ready to come out strong in the second.
The goals picked up in the second quarter as Calgary and Toronto exchanged goal-for-goal within the first two minutes. Calgary’s points were dispersed thoroughly within the roster, with three goals by Williams, Phillips, and Kelusky in the first five minutes of the quarter. Josh Sanderson’s long wind-up found its way to the top corner as Toronto pulled back to within one. With the Roughnecks up 5-4 halfway through the quarter, Toronto’s defense stood strong, resisting Calgary’s attack until Ratcliff eventually beat Watson on a power play shot. Jim Veltman’s nickname stood the test, as his interceptions and ground ball “scoops” kept the Rock and their fans in the game. At the end of the first half, Calgary led 6-4.
Toronto exploded into the second half as Josh Sanderson mirrored his second quarter goal with a wind-up power shot, reaching the top corner past Palidwor. Toronto needed only three minutes to take a commanding hold of the lead with four straight thriller goals. Chris Driscoll started the drive with a pistol at the net and got the fans screaming on Ladies Night. Colin Doyle followed suit just seconds later with a five-hole beauty. Aaron Wilson scored his second of the game shortly after, and Matt Shearer capitalized on Calgary’s scrambling defense, potting a top corner goal. The three minute domination put the Rock ahead 9-6, never to look back.
Penalties proved to take their toll as Calgary ended the unanswered streak with a power play goal. Toronto wouldn’t let up early, as both Shearer and Doyle scored their second of the game, both screened shots in a man-up situation. Watson kept the fans roaring as he stoned two promising shots nearing the end of the third quarter. Toronto looked to hold onto their commanding 11-7 lead entering the fourth and final quarter.
The quarter began much like the third as Josh Sanderson once again powered his way through Calgary’s defense and scored the first goal. Calgary worked to begin a comeback as Ratcliff beat Watson, but the Rock wouldn’t allow the Roughnecks to come any closer as Blaine Manning answered back, and Aaron Wilson scored his third of the match. Colin Doyle pummeled through the Calgary defense, as Toronto’s shots proved to be too much for Palidwor and he was pulled with just over five minutes to play. Toronto neared 60 shots on net as they continued to dictate the pace of the game, stopping any of Calgary’s desperate attempts to get back in the game. Driscoll scored his second of the game as Toronto comfortably led by eight goals with two minutes to play. Calgary saw a solid offensive game through Lewis Ratcliff, as delivered a six-point game, but it was nothing in comparison to Toronto’s teamwork. Combined with stellar defensive play, Toronto saw nine players with 2 or more points contributing to the win, Manning leading the way with 10, followed by Doyle and J. Sanderson each with 7. Calgary
looked to redeem themselves through physical play, resulting in five fights in the game’s final minute. Notwithstanding, Toronto continued to dominate both on the floor and the scoreboard, finishing the game with a powerful and dramatic 16-10 win. Regardless of the messy finish, Toronto proved once again that they are championship material, and continue to dominate Canada’s national sport. The pride of the North see their next action back at the Air Canada Centre on Friday, February 25th as Toronto takes on the Rochester Knighthawks. The game can be caught on The Score Television Network as well as AM 640 at 7:30pm. Watch as your Toronto Rock try to make it four wins in a row.