If you locked Toronto Rock coach Terry Sanderson, Calgary Roughnecks coach Chris Hall and referee Tom Sutton in a small room today, chances are it would get a bit ugly. In the aftermath of the National Lacrosse League-leading Rock's 16-10 win over the Roughnecks last night before 17,141 at the Air Canada Centre, much of the talk revolved around Sutton's controversial performance.
The Rock (9-3), which needs just two wins in its final four games to clinch first overall in the 10-team NLL, was the better team and deserved the victory. But Sutton played far too big a role in the game.
"I'm tired of coming in here and being subjected to things we were subjected to again (last night), which was very reminiscent of what happened the last time we were here," said Hall, whose team also lost 16-10 on Feb. 12 in Toronto when the Rock had 13 power plays to the Roughnecks' five.
"I have no explanation. None. Zero."
Hall was bitter about a crazy sequence that led to the Rock's winning goal on the power play in the fourth quarter. With the game tied 10-10, Calgary's Ryan Sharp tripped up Chris Driscoll for a clear penalty. Then, Toronto's Patrick Merrill delivered a vicious cross-check to Brad MacDonald's head. Questionably, Sutton penalized MacDonald for roughing, Merrill for interference and Sharp for holding.
On the ensuing power play, Rock star Colin Doyle scored one of his game-high five goals, beginning a 6-0 run that sealed the win.
"They get a lot of bounces in Toronto," MacDonald said. "I hate to say it because I know (Sanderson) personally and I'm not saying anything bad against him, but it comes down to reffing."
Not surprisingly, Sanderson had different thoughts, especially after Calgary (8-5) was awarded a penalty shot in the first half on a questionable too-many-men call.
"That's horse (crap)," he said. "In the first half, if any team got bounces it was those guys ... Last time we had too many power plays. This time we get the bounces. They had every fricken call going for them in the first half."
Whatever the case, the Rock is on a season-high four-game winning streak and can clinch a playoff spot with a win in Philadelphia against the Wings (6-6) tonight. Toronto won without top defenders Glenn Clark (hamstring) and Brian Beisel (flu) last night. Beisel is expected to play tonight.
The Rock held Calgary off the scoreboard for a span of 20 minutes 50 seconds during the second and third quarters, with goalie Bob Watson looking very good yet again.
"(Watson) is the best at doing that (making big saves) and he's been so good at it this year," Doyle said.