Sometimes the scoreboard lies.
That was the message Rock general manager/ coach Terry Sanderson projected after his team lost 11-9 to the Calgary Roughnecks at the Air Canada Centre yesterday.
Even though the Rock never trailed by more than two goals, Sanderson had harsh words for his club.
"That was our worst game of the year," he said. "Why we had so many passengers, I have no idea."
While key forwards Josh Sanderson and Blaine Manning had six points each, reigning National Lacrosse League MVP Colin Doyle and fellow top goal-scorer Aaron Wilson struggled.
"I was brutal for three quarters and there's no excuse for it," Doyle said. "Your best players can't take the night off. I was not ready to play and it showed."
Calgary took an 8-7 lead into the fourth quarter and added another one quickly, before Doyle made things close. Then, disaster struck for the Rock. As goalie Bob Watson prepared to launch the ball forward, he bumped into teammate Chris Driscoll, inexplicably standing behind the goaltender in the crease. The two bumped slightly and the ball dropped into the Rock net behind an irate Watson, otherwise stellar in a 37-save effort.
The Rock pulled within one with two minutes remaining in the game, but Kyle Goundrey iced the game for Calgary with an empty-netter.
Roughnecks coach Chris Hall gladly took the lucky goal that led to the rare win in Toronto.
"I looked at the guys on the bench and said, 'There's our break,' " Hall said. "I've been coming here for five years and walking away with nothing."
Captain Tracey Kelusky led the way for Calgary with five goals and an assist, while Lewis Ratcliff added seven points.
The game was physical at times, but given the long-standing animosity between the two rivals, it was a little surprising that tempers did not flare more often. For the most part, both teams seemed more focused on scoring goals, rather than settling old scores in front of 17,942 fans.
Neither team managed to pull away in the first half and they went to the break tied at six following a late Calgary goal.
When play resumed, the Roughnecks scored two more quick goals, but the Rock stormed back to cut the margin to 8-7. Rock captain Jim Veltman had two break-away chances late in the third to tie the proceedings, but was foiled by Curtis Palidwor.
The Rock (7-6) is in a dogfight for playoff seeding with the Rochester Knighthawks (7-6), who lost to the Buffalo Bandits (7-4) last night 18-13.