Calgary, AB – Do lacrosse players really play for the love of the game? Sunday afternoon’s regular season finale between the Rock and the Calgary Roughnecks tested the adage. After all, Toronto had booked its place at the East Final last week and Calgary learned that a loss by Arizona helped them clinch the West Division Title before the game. So this was a meaningless affair, right? Wrong. As expected, this was a spirited battle featuring a flurry of goals – and a flurry of punches – that ended in a lopsided 20-12 Roughneck victory.
The Rock drew first blood – if you’ll pardon the expression – on Matt Shearer’s goal,. Calgary Captain Tracey Kelusky replied with his first of eight goals on the night, a record-setting performance for the Peterborough native. With the game tied 2-2, Toronto rolled off three in a row (Doyle 1G, Kruger 2G) that gave them the 5-2 lead heading into the second. Josh Sanderson broke his own league record for assists with his 69th helper on Kruger’s goal.
With the help of Aaron Wilson’s pair of goals and another by Blaine Manning, the Rock found themselves up 8-4 and seemingly cruising to another victory. However, a slow transition by Rock defense resulted in a 3-on-1 that allowed Andrew McBride to blow one past Bob Watson. That sparked a six-goal run by the Riggers and a 10-8 lead at the half.
All season long the Rock rallied in the third quarter. Not tonight. A quick one by Josh Sanderson only served to fire up Calgary. Kelusky got his 5th, followed by Jesse Phillips. Roughnecks forward Kyle Goundrey took a run at Rock goaltender Watson. Defenceman Jimmy Quinlan didn’t take that too kindly to that! Now emotions boiled over. Quinlan and Goundrey dropped the gloves, followed by Jim Veltman and Phillips. Even the goalies got involved as Bob Watson and Andrew Leyshon went at it! Both netminders, along with Veltman and Phillips, received game misconducts.
With the adrenaline pumping and a crowd of 11,311 behind them, Calgary put the game away with yet another six-goal outburst. The 20-12 loss ended a seven-game winning streak for Toronto. On the plus side, Colin Doyle (2G, 5A) captured the League scoring title with 111 points on 42 goals and 69 assists – a truly outstanding season! The 2005 season marks the first time that a Rock player earned the league’s top scoring title. Josh Sanderson set a new league record for assists in a single season with 71.
The Rock now await the winner of the East Semi-Final between Buffalo and Rochester to be played this weekend. Toronto faces the winner in the East Final, Friday April 29 at 7:30pm. Tickets are now on sale through Ticketmaster outlets online at www.ticketmaster.ca , by phone at (416) 872 5000 or in person at the Box Office at the Air Canada Centre.