Game Review: Toronto 14 at Calgary 13

Let’s say you were going to write a movie that included a lacrosse game, and it was important to the plot that the game be close. How would you write it? It would have to include overtime. You could have the score tied nine different times. All four quarters end in a tie. Both teams have the same number of power play goals on the same number of power play opportunities. No team would lead by more than two at any time. Both teams have the same number of shots in two of the four quarters. Both backup goaltenders enter the game and play for significant periods of time. And then you’d have the unsung hero, the hard worker that doesn’t get all the accolades, score the OT winner, his first goal in two years. Well, you couldn’t put all those elements in, that would be too unrealistic.

And yet that’s what happened in the Rock’s second win of the weekend and Calgary’s second straight overtime loss. Rock defender Cam Woods scored on a pass from Mike Hobbins just over a minute into overtime, in a game that featured all of the above elements and more. There was even a fight, but I’ve never seen a fight involving a goalie that didn’t involve a second goalie. I’ve seen goalies shoving other players and even throwing the odd punch, but never a drop-the-gloves-take-the-jersey-and-pads-off kind of fight. I’ll get back to that later, but back to the game review for now.

This was the first game the Rock had played without either Blaine Manning or Colin Doyle in the lineup since the first game of the 2000 season. The question of who would step up in their absence was answered by another veteran, Josh Sanderson, who had nine points including a hat-trick. Garrett Billings continued where he left off last night, with 3 goals and 4 assists, giving him 14 points over the weekend. Not John Grant numbers, but not bad. Brendan Thenhaus made his Rock debut and scored a goal and two helpers. Pat Campbell started but only played 3 1/2 minutes, allowing 2 goals on 5 shots before he… but more on that later. Matt Roik finished the game from there, allowing 11 goals on 43 shots and for the fourth straight game, keeping his team in it. Three of the Rock’s goals, including the winner, were scored by defenders – Woods, Drew Petkoff, and Mike Hobbins all scored, and Hobbins also added three assists.

At the other end of the floor, Mike Poulin started but after allowing 5 goals, was pulled early in the second for Nick Rose. I didn’t think Poulin was playing that badly, but Rose ended up playing 25 minutes before Poulin came back in. Rose wasn’t bad either, but Poulin really played well  in the fourth. Offensively, the Roughnecks were led by Curtis Dickson with 3 goals and 3 assists, and Shawn Evans, with 2 and 3. Four other Roughnecks had 4 or more points, so it was a well-balanced attack.

After a tough back-and-forth game with goals scattered throughout and ten goals in the third quarter alone, both defenses were very strong in the fourth quarter. This resulted in a ten-minute span with no goals scored and Calgary nursing a two-goal lead. But with less than two minutes left and Roik on the bench, Kasey Beirnes scored to cut the lead to one. Toronto kept the pressure on and when Mike Poulin left the crease to try to grab a loose ball behind the net, he was hit by two Rock players. When he rushed to get back in front of the net, he didn’t have time to get properly set up, and was a step or two in front of the goal as Garrett Billings blew a shot by him to tie the game with eleven seconds left. Geoff Snider won the resulting faceoff (Snider was 24-4 on faceoffs on the night) and Calgary managed to get a decent shot on Roik, who made the biggest stop of his season to send the game to OT.

If you were to poll every Rock fan watching that game and ask which Rock player was going to score the winner, Cam Woods would not likely make the top 10. I doubt Cam Woods himself would list Cam Woods in the top ten. But on a quick transition, Woods scored from Mike Hobbins to end the game and put the Rock at 2-2 on the season.

OK, I said I’d get back to the Campbell thing later, but that may be long so I think I will save it for a separate article. I know, dear reader, that you are shaken and upset by having to wait, so I will leave you with some more notes about this game, and then a video of the event in question. Check back in a couple of days or watch my twitter feed for the announcement.

Other game notes:

  • Drew Petkoff scored a nice goal in the second as he got a breakaway and ran from Rose’s left to his right looking for an opening. I thought (and Brian Shanahan said the same thing on the telecast) that he’d run too far and taken too long, but he managed to pull Rose off to the right just far enough to open a hole on the left side and scored there. Don’t know if that’s what he meant to do, but it was beautiful.
  • I’m not one to complain about officiating in general, but there were a number of questionable calls here. Two of the most blatant went against the Roughnecks: Scott Ranger got a “hitting from behind” penalty for giving Bruce Codd a little shove on the back – with his hand. Then near the end of the fourth, Cam Woods grabbed Curtis Dickson’s jersey and yanked him down. The Roughnecks got a penalty on the first one (and the Rock scored on the PP) and Toronto did not get a penalty on the second. That’s exactly backwards.
  • Questionable officiating notwithstanding, Ryan Sharp deserved every penalty he took in this game, and in the Rochester game as well. If he’s going to remain with the team, he’ll have to play smarter.
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