I mentioned in my Week 7 picks article that Calgary scares me. They have arguably the best offense in the league, one of the best face-off men in the league, quick transition, a strong defense, and lots of toughness up and down the lineup. Oh yeah, and the reigning goaltender of the year. They’ve won four in a row, two of those by 7+ goals. There’s no question that the Roughnecks are one of the toughest teams to beat in the league, and that’s the team we saw tonight.
For the first quarter.
For the rest of the game they looked like just another pretty good lacrosse team. They certainly had flashes of brilliance – Poulin made a few great stops, the Roughnecks defense was pretty stifling all night long, and they scored a couple of goals that I, a Rock fan, even applauded. Shawn Evans didn’t score but dished out some pretty nice feeds. Dane Dobbie was on fire, and Shattler, Dickson, and Ranger had some pretty nice goals as well. But penalty trouble was the name of the game for the Roughnecks, as they gave the Rock 12 power play opportunities, 9 of which were converted.
The Rock started the game with the yips – shots going everywhere, dropped balls, fancy behind-the-back passes to nobody. It looked like the first game of the season out there – assuming nobody had picked up a lacrosse stick during the off-season. But things gradually came together and after being down 5-2 and 6-3, the Rock went on a 11-1 run including five straight power play goals in the third. Early in the second quarter, Garrett Billings scored an unbelievable behind-the-back no-look short-side goal and I mentioned on twitter that it “may be the most beautiful lacrosse goal ever scored in the history of the world” and was only partially kidding. But later in the same quarter, Billings scored another from almost the same place but this one was far side. I swear it looked like the ball curved after he shot it, since the space between Poulin’s arm and the post was almost nonexistent.
As I said, penalties caused the Roughnecks trouble all night, none more than Geoff Snider’s ejection early in the third. He was having his usual ho hum 78% face-off night, when he seemed to lose his mind and go after Scott Evans. Evans decided that fighting Snider was a bad idea (can’t blame him) and tried to walk away. Snider, who had hold of his jersey, pulled him back and started pummeling him. Refs quickly broke it up, but Snider was given 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting, and a game misconduct. The 2 and the 5 I get, but I honestly don’t know what earned him the misconduct. Evans, who never threw a punch, was given no penalties at all and the Rock went on a seven-minute power play, scoring three goals.
The Rock had a seven-goal lead at one point, but it dwindled to four with almost eight minutes left, so this was no blowout until the very end. Still, the Roughnecks seemed to get more and more frustrated (possibly with hitting the number of posts and crossbars that they did – they were banging more iron than a blacksmith), and both Andrew McBride and Shawn Evans got unsportsmanlike conduct penalties within the last five minutes of the game.
So with this win, did the Rock cement themselves as the best team in the league? Arguably yes, and they do have the best record, but given the parity in the league it’s hard to say they’re far and away the best. They’ve also played two more games than Rochester and Buffalo, and three more than Philadelphia so we’ll have to let them catch up in games played before we can make a meaningful comparison.
Only a couple of game notes, neither of which has anything to do with the game itself:
- It took me over two hours to get to the ACC from my house. With no traffic, I can make it in 45 minutes easy. I was a little frustrated by the time I arrived, especially since I’ve now missed the first five minutes of two games (out of three) this season due to horrible traffic on Lakeshore Boulevard. I know that nobody but me cares about that, but hey, it’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to.
- Because of this, I missed the pre-game event where a couple of members of the Grey Cup-winning Toronto Argonauts brought the Cup onto the field. The two captains Colin Doyle and Andrew McBride met the players, but after McBride declined to drink some beer from the Cup, the Argo player (Adriano Belli) poured beer over McBride’s head. There are a number of tweets from Roughnecks players and at least a couple from Rock players expressing their “disgust” over this. I can’t say I’m outraged but I agree this was a classless move. I don’t follow the CFL at all (and had never heard of Belli before this), but I’m pretty disappointed that a pro athlete would choose to disrespect a fellow pro athlete like this. I think an apology should be forthcoming from Belli and the Argos.