Rock feels the Sting

RYAN WOLSTAT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

With another championship banner being raised to the rafters, it was the Rock that was supposed to come out with all the energy.

Instead, the Arizona Sting, which lost last season's Champions Cup to the Rock, stunned the Air Canada Centre crowd by building up a 9-3 first-half lead before hanging on for a 14-13 overtime win.

The Sting may have taken its own inspiration from watching the championship banner being raised.

"We don't like them and I'm sure they don't like the fact we took the championship from them," star Rock forward Colin Doyle said.

Rock goaltender Bob Watson stood on his head throughout regulation and overtime before allowing the deciding goal to Andrew Guindon, but many of his teammates did not look to be in proper game shape and the team made many uncharacteristic errors.

"I felt winded out there at times," Doyle said, adding he is feeling only about 75% in terms of conditioning.

Rock coach/general manager Terry Sanderson was even more blunt.

"We got our asses handed to us tonight, it's pretty simple," Sanderson said. "You can't give yourself a hole like that."

Sting forward Jonas Derks capped off a spectacular eight-point night with his fourth goal of the game with 5:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, but Doyle tied it at 13-13 with just 36.8 seconds remaining to complete a hat trick and send the game to sudden-death overtime.

Rusty Kruger had brought the Rock all the way back, scoring to tie the game at 11-11 with 8:29 remaining in the fourth quarter before Arizona pulled ahead again.

Watson, showing no signs of early season rust, was stellar throughout the first half, but the rest of the team was making sloppy errors.

Early in the game, the Sting scored on a number of terrible Rock line changes, including a short-handed marker by Chris Seller, drawing angry muttering from the crowd of 17,527.

Rock captain Jim Veltman said the team played very poorly at times, particularly in being outscored 8-1 by Arizona in the second quarter.

"I came in at halftime and said, 'We're playing selfish,' " Veltman said. "I took two shots that caused transition (chances) going the other way and you just can't make those kind of decisions. There were brain camps all over the place."

Arizona outshot Toronto 29-19 in the first half.

The second half was a different story as the Rock outscored the Sting 5-2 in both the third and fourth quarters to force the extra session.

New Rock defenceman Brad MacDonald made a huge defensive play, saving a sure goal by knocking the ball from behind Watson with six minutes remaining in regulation.

The Rock plays host to the Buffalo Bandits on Friday before playing in Rochester on Saturday.


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