Story by Rob Denholm
photos by Marcelo Saquez
Sunday afternoon the 6-1 Toronto Rock, looking to build on their impressive 2010 road showing, travelled to Calgary to take on the 2-3 Roughnecks. It marked the first return of the coaching tandem of former Head Coach Troy Cordingley and former Assistant Coach Terry Sanderson, now the General Manager of the Rock. But a victorious return was not meant to be as a 4th quarter surge by the Roughnecks ended in a 10-8 home win.
The game started with a video tribute to the Coaching tandem who moved East after guiding the Riggers to the NLL championship last season.
Calgary notched the belt first with a highlight Tracey Kelusky goal, burying an over the shoulder pass off a pick and roll at the 1:60 mark. The Rock then poured it on with three straight from Scott Campbell, Kasey Beirnes and 1000 point man Colin Doyle. Doyle’s goal, occuring after a great Scott Ranger shorthanded effort that was turned away by stalwart Rock netminder Steve Deitrich. Calgary starter Matt King hurt himself diving to make a save and newly acquired Mike Poulin replaced him. The quarter ended with a smart play by Nolan Heavenor to hang back on a Jeff Moleski breakaway to pick up the garbage and pull the Roughnecks to within one; 3-2 Toronto at the 15 minuter marker.
The 2nd quarter began with rookie Stephan Leblanc dishing out a 5 minute cross check to Andrew McBride which left McBride wondering where he was. The teams then traded goals until the Roughies got close with 5 seconds left on the clock. The unsucessful Rock challenge ended the half with the Rock leading the Roughnecks 6-4.
Toronto started the 2nd half strongly with a goal and Steve Dietrich continued to eat up all rebounds as the Riggers could not penetrate the Rock defense. With a little more than a minute left in the third, Scott Ranger made a great diving goal from a Tracey Kelusky feed. Just 13 seconds later Kelusky fired a heater from the key to bring the hometown boys to within a goal at 7-6.
Going into the 4th the shots were 33-31 for the visitors. With Phil Sanderson in the sin-bin, the Roughnecks stormed the net. Toth and Kelusky fired bullets at the net as Dietrich stood on his head again, turning all shots away, There were plenty of posts on the night as both teams struggled to find the twine. With 6:24 left, Kelusky scored the nicest goal of the night from Josh Sanderson and Craig Conn after some tic-tac-toe passing ended with a shot into a gaping net to tie the match. A minute later McBride dove into Dietrich and a scrum ensued. It lead to a Roughnecks Powerplay but it wnet unrewarded. As the PP ended, McBride fired an underhand bounce shot past Dietrich to take the lead after a botched 3 on 2 going the other way. The Rock tied it up right away, then Jeff Shattler got the Necks the winner with a sweet give and go from Sanderson with 2:30 left. With a minute and a half left, Craig Conn out fought two Rock players for a lose ball behind their net for the battle of the night. Calgary took possession and with a Mike Poulin scoop and pass, Dane Dobbie sealed the win with an empty netter.
The game was a great back and forth goaltending duel that resembled playoff lacrosse. It was easy to see the respect that the teams had for each other and for Coach Dave Pym, no doubt, the proudest win of his professional coaching career against his mentors.
Other Game Notes
– 10193 fans took the game in
– shots were 49(Calgary) – 45 (Toronto)
– Toronto was 2-2 on the PP, Calgary 2-4
– hat tricks on the night went to Kelusky, Dobbie and Doyle
– player of the game went to Mike Poulin for his solid “Poulin Wall” netminding.
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