Toronto – After a week off the Rock welcomed Captain Jim Veltman back from an injury and the Calgary Roughnecks to Toronto. With both teams coming off of convincing victories at home the Rock were looking to go two games above .500. Anchored by their great all around play in the fourth quarter, Toronto would mount a spectacular come from behind effort to beat the Roughnecks 9-7.
The game began with an exciting start to the first half that saw two five minute majors in the first five seconds setting the tone of the game – physical. The Roughnecks registered the first goal to take an early lead, but the Rock would shortly knot up the game on a Kasey Beirnes goal just about midway through the quarter. Despite some stellar defense the tie would be broken by another Calgary goal at the 9:40 mark of the first quarter followed by one at 12:38 giving the Riggers a two goal lead. The Rock would have some scoring chances late in the first but the Roughnecks’ tough play on the defensive end would keep Toronto in check ending the first with Calgary up 3-1.
Toronto struck first in the second quarter and “Scoop” Veltman would catch Blaine Manning in stride early on to complete the offensive drive to bring the home team within one. But the Roughnecks would score again not long after on a Kelly Hall goal to put the lead back at two. The two teams’ physical play seemed to cancel each other out through the middle of the quarter. A Calgary goal on a breakaway was waved off for a crease violation and would seem to turn the momentum in the Rock’s favour, as the Roughnecks were called for two penalties resulting in a two man power play for Toronto. Manning would take advantage of the situation to score again in the quarter to bring Toronto closer to evening out the score. Despite being outshot in the half the Rock closed out the first two quarters strong to trail only by one, 4-3.
The Rock came out of the locker room after the half with a sense of urgency and did not waste any time. Kasey Beirnes would score very early in the third to tie the game for a moment before the Roughnecks answered quickly with two quick goals to make it 6-4 Calgary before the midway point of the third. The Rock would pull within one goal again on a great effort by Aaron Wilson only to have the Roughnecks return their lead to two after a five minute penalty left Toronto shorthanded. In spite of that, the Toronto defense, anchored by Bob Watson who made some great stops eventually led to a breakaway that resulted in a shorthanded goal scored by Rob Marshall to pull Toronto within striking distance with just over two minutes in the third. The very physical third ended with the Rock down by one, 7-6.
The final quarter began as a dogfight as both teams let their heart and defense take over. Both goaltenders would put on a clinic in protecting the pipes stopping everything thrown at them for the first eight minutes of the fourth. The scoreless drought would be broken by Josh Sanderson who brought the crowd to its feet by putting in the game tying goal for the Rock, 7-7. With both teams not giving an inch, the game became more physical as the clock ticked down. With the crowd already worked into frenzy, Manning would complete his hat trick in spectacular fashion on a diving goal giving the Rock their first lead of the game at the 13:43 mark. Marshall would put in the insurance goal in an empty net with thirteen seconds left to seal the win with the final score of 9-7.
The Rock were led on the offensive end by Blaine Manning with four points (3 goals, 1 assist) and Josh Sanderson with four points (1 goal, 3 assists). Kasey Beirnes followed with two goals and an assist. Not to be outdone, the Toronto defense played a great game lead by Peter Lough and Cam Woods. Bob “Whipper” Watson would record the win stopping 12 of his 41 saves in the crucial fourth period to keep the win.
The Roughnecks were led on offense by Scott Ranger who tallied three goals and an assist.
The Rock (5-3) will travel next weekend to face off against the Philadelphia Wings at the Wachovia Center on Saturday March 8th. Game time is slated for 1:00 p.m. EST and will be available on Rogers Sportsnet and the B2 Network.