Curtis Manning (right) and the Calgary Roughnecks outscored the Toronto Rock 9-3 in the second half to escape the Air Canada Centre with a 12-9 win in the 2012 season opener.
After a ceremony that saw the 2011 championship banner raised to the Air Canada Centre rafters, the Toronto Rock squandered an early five-goal lead and fell the Calgary Roughnecks 12-9 on Sunday night.
The first quarter was dominated by the Rock (0-1) against Calgary goaltender Mike Poulin with newcomer Josh Sanderson scoring twice during the flurry.
Despite the lead, the Rock weren’t able to harness a win.
“We stopped playing like a team, said Toronto head coach Troy Cordingley. “[Calgary] improved after [the lead] as well, they outworked us, out hustled us.”
Calgary (1-0) started to chip away in the second quarter, scoring three goals against Matt Roik, who was making his Rock debut after the retirement of Hall of Famer Bob Watson. Dane Dobbie led the Calgary surge with a goal and an assist before the first half closed.
The Roughnecks continued their strong play in the third quarter outscoring the Rock 5-2 and tying the game at 8. Shawn Evans scored twice swinging momentum in Calgary’s direction before the final frame.
Scott Ranger scored two quick goals to start the fourth quarter giving the Roughnecks the lead for good.
Calgary head coach Dave Pym credits his team’s composure for the comeback and victory.
“To face that kind of adversity right out of the hop and get down the way we did, it was tough on the psyche, but we remained calm and we used our poise and patience,” said Pym.
Calgary was able to get off 57 shots on goal, giving Roik a difficult test. Rock captain Colin Doyle thought the veteran goalie deserved better.
“I thought he was great,” said Doyle. “Hopefully that will allow some breathing room with people all over him about trying to fill [Watson’s] shoes.”
Roik said he felt good between the pipes, something Cordingley echoed after the game.
“He was outstanding; he was the one who kept the game that close,” said Cordingley of Roik who stopped 45 shots.
Doyle finished with a goal and three assists for the Rock, while the Roughnecks’ top scorer was Dobbie, who had a hat trick with three assists.
Up next for the Rock is a battle on the road against the Buffalo Bandits, slated for 7 p.m. ET Saturday at the First Niagara Center. Also on Saturday, the Roughnecks will travel to Washington for a matchup with the Stealth.