Rock steamrolled

RYAN WOLSTAT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Fan favourites stole the show last night at the Air Canada Centre.

Unfortunately for Rock supporters, those favourites no longer play for Toronto as the Rock fell to the Calgary Roughnecks 16-9 in National Lacrosse League action.

The game marked the return to Toronto of ex-NLL scoring leader Josh Sanderson, traded to Calgary last spring for Lewis Ratcliff. Sanderson, the league's career single season assist leader, showed off his scoring touch -- especially, it seemed, every time the Rock got close.

By the end of the night, Sanderson had tallied three goals and a game-high eight points, but claimed he wasn't playing any harder than usual.

"There's no grudges or anything, we just wanted to come in here and get a win," Sanderson said.

"It's a special place, it always will be."

Kaleb Toth, who took the shot that won the Rock its first championship back in 1999, was equally unstoppable, with three goals and four assists.

The once-proud Rock (1-2) now is 1-7 since dealing Sanderson, while Calgary (3-0) is 7-2, but Ratcliff isn't impressed.

"They haven't won anything yet," he said.

"We'll see what happens at the end of the season."

Rock coach Glenn Clark didn't mince words about his team's performance.

"It was embarrassing," Clark said.

"I've been around this organization since the start and that's the worst defensive game I've ever seen."

"I'm calling them the Cracker Jack team," Clark said.

"We never know what we're going to get once that door opens. Last week (in an 8-6 loss to Buffalo, the defence) was great."

The offence wasn't much better last night as it continued to frustrate Clark.

"For a group that's so talented, it's puzzling," he said.

Bob Watson did all he could to prevent the outcome, but it wasn't nearly enough for the Rock, outshot 50-38.

The Roughnecks stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first.

Later, with the Rock trailing 7-2, Clark was forced to call a timeout to settle his charges.

The team responded, scoring the next four goals and eventually tied the game, but the Riggers took a slim 9-8 lead into the break, despite outshooting the Rock 32-17.

Calgary increased its lead to 12-8, before Luke Wiles finally broke a long scoring drought with 3:58 to go in the third quarter. But Sanderson and Toth answered again.

At that point, the Rock trailed only 14-9 when Clark mercifully lifted Watson for Mike Atwood.

As the final horn sounded, scattered boos rained down on the club from what was left of a crowd of 12,865.

Wiles led the Rock with three goals and two assists, Ratcliff added two and two and Jason Crosbie and Josh Wasson had a goal and two assists.

Watson's former backup, Pat Campbell, turned it on after a slow start, holding the Rock to a single goal in the second half.

Toronto returns to action on the road Jan. 31 against the equally disappointing Rochester Knighthawks.


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