Rock Down Calgary 17-14
Calgary, AB – The Toronto Rock (7-6) started and finished strong in a 17-14 win over the Calgary Roughnecks (5-8) on Saturday night in Calgary, AB. The win catapults Toronto into top spot in the NLL’s very tight East Division.
“It’s an encouraging thing,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer when asked about how his team preserved after a 6-1 lead almost evaporated in the second quarter but still came out on top. “We are always stressing to just stick with it and be committed to what makes us successful. There were opportunities for us to start feeling sorry for ourselves, but we just stuck with it and came out and had a real good second half.”
Toronto’s transition game sparked their fast start. Of the Rock’s six first quarter goals, three came in transition with Brodie Merrill, Sheldon Burns and Challen Rogers all scored on the run for the visitors. The Rock finished the first quarter with four straight goals to lead 6-1 after 15 minutes.
However, the game turned quickly in the second quarter as Calgary scored four straight to draw to within one at 6-5. Kieran McArdle scored his second goal of the game to make it 7-5, followed by the two teams exchanging tallies. The Roughnecks finished the half with two straight goals to tie the score 8-8 at the midway point of the game.
With the score 9-9, the Rock scored a pair to build another two goal lead. But it wasn’t long before Calgary’s Curtis Dickson scored twice to tie the game 11-11 after three quarters. Dickson had all three goals for the Roughnecks in the frame.
The Rock exploded for four straight goals through the first 8:05 of the fourth quarter, leading 14-11. With the score 15-12, Rob Hellyer scored a goal that was initially waved off, but Sawyer challenged the call, and after referee review the call on the floor was overturned, the goal counted and the Rock led 16-12. An empty net goal by Latrell Harris gave Toronto a 17-13 lead after Calgary had reduced the Rock lead to three. The Roughnecks got one last goal, but it wasn’t enough and the Rock emerged victorious.
Hellyer had a nine-point game, scoring three goals and adding six assists to lead all Rock scorers. McArdle had his second consecutive hat trick while Adam Jones, Phil Caputo and Reinholdt each scored a pair. Rogers, Merrill, Burns, Harris and Dan Lintner all scored singles. Jones’ first goal of the game was the 500th point of his NLL career.
Calgary’s young goaltender Christian Del Bianco had his coming out party earlier in the season in Toronto when the Roughnecks defeated the Rock at Air Canada Centre, but early on in this one it was Del Bianco coming out of the game that was the story as he was chased after allowing six goals in just under 14 minutes of work. Frankie Scigliano went the rest of the way and kept the Roughnecks in the game. The Rock’s Nick Rose made 37 saves on 51 shots and also picked up a pair of assists in the win.
“We have to keep the intensity up and play desperate,” said Hellyer. “We had that when we went on the four-game win streak at the start of the year. We need to play desperate now, every game.”
The Rock return home on Friday, Mar. 30 to face the Colorado Mammoth. For more information on Toronto Rock tickets, please visit torontorock.com/tickets or call 416-596-3075.