By Matt Cullen | NLL.com Staff Writer
Photo credit Graig Abel
The Toronto Rock paid tribute to their long-time captain with a dominant win on Saturday.
On Colin Doyle Night in Toronto, the Rock (6-4) cruised to a 16-10 victory over the Calgary Roughnecks (4-7) in front of 10,370 fans at the Air Canada Centre.
Rock veteran Brett Hickey scored five goals and rookie Tom Schreiber recorded seven points, including four goals for the first time in his NLL career. Stephan Leblanc (3G, 2A) and rookie Kieran McArdle (2G, 3A) both contributed five points in a dominant offensive performance, which saw the Rock lead from start to finish.
“We’re learning to play a resistant game,” Hickey told NLL.com. “We’ve got to manage the highs and lows. We’re a young team. We got contributions from everybody tonight, young and old.”
Prior to Saturday’s game, the Rock honored long-time captain Colin Doyle by retiring his jersey in an emotional pre-game ceremony. Doyle spent 16 of his 19 seasons with the Rock and was the captain for seven years.
“If you don’t get motivated after that [ceremony], there is something wrong with you,” Rock head coach Matt Sawyer joked. “I certainly enjoyed it and we were ready to go once the game started.”
Special teams were all that worked for the Roughnecks on Saturday as they scored five on the power play, and two more shorthanded. Calgary finished 5-for-8 on the man advantage.
The Roughnecks have now dropped six of their last seven games.
Curtis Dickson scored three goals and added two assists in a losing effort for Calgary. Dickson leads all NLL players with 33 goals this season.
Toronto certainly had the momentum after Doyle’s jersey joined legendary Rock goalie Bob “Whipper” Watson in the rafters at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto, which had lost three of its last four coming in, took a 3-0 lead and held the Roughnecks’ powerful offense to four shots in the opening nine minutes.
Calgary finally beat Nick Rose with a power-play goal from Dickson just 54 seconds into the second quarter. But after Calgary’s Scott Carnegie took a major penalty, the Rock promptly netted power-play goals from Hickey and Schreiber to make it 5-1 at the end of the first half. Rose was stellar in the first 30 minutes, limiting Calgary to just one goal on 21 shots.
The Rock, which had stifled the Roughnecks 11-7 in Calgary on Feb. 12, held its offense to a single first-half half goal. It was Calgary’s lowest total of the season.
But the goals came fast and furious in the third quarter. After Leblanc put Toronto up 6-1, Greg Harnett, who returned from a five-game suspension, scored shorthanded for his first of the season. But McArdle and Leblanc stretched Toronto’s lead to 8-2 with two quick goals. Leblanc’s marker at 4:34 prompted Calgary coach Curt Malawsky to make a goaltending change, replacing Frank Scigliano with Christian Del Bianco.
That seemed to spark the Roughnecks – at least momentarily – as Dickson scored his second power-play goal of the night, beating Rose at 5:57 to make it 8-3. But Schreiber completed the hat trick just 39 seconds later to restore the six-goal lead. But Calgary countered again, scoring three of the next four goals to cut Toronto’s lead to just 10-6 with 5:14 left in the third.
But that’s as close as Calgary would come.
“We had some momentum there at 10-6,” coach Malawsky said to NLL.com. “There were some tough breaks. It is not a lack of effort or a lack of caring. There is no question there. Guys are not just punching the clock, playing and going home. These guys care. Sometimes you tip your hat to a team that’s playing on an emotional high.”
After Schreiber scored his fourth of the game to make it 11-6 late in the third, Hickey scored a spectacular goal to compete the hat trick. With the shot clock winding down, Hickey fended off a defender behind the cage, reached and managed to bank the ball off of Del Bianco’s back, and into the net.
“It was just instinct,” Hickey said of the goal. “It was just seeing where the goaltender was. There was no time on the shot clock. I was just trying to get it on net and it went in.”
In the fourth quarter, the Rock continued to exploit Calgary’s defense, which looked out of sorts in the final frame. Leading 12-7, Leblanc capped off his hat trick at 2:42 before Hickey added another, his fourth of the game. Coach Malawsky then made a second goaltending change, replacing Del Bianco with Scigliano at 3:27 of the fourth quarter. Hickey’s fifth goal came in transition as Schreiber, while being checked to the ground, somehow managed to get the ball to Hickey while on his back.
“Thank goodness he was in front there,” Schreiber said of the play. “My first instinct was to throw it over there. I didn’t even know that a defender was hitting me. A little bit a luck and a great finish from Hickey.”
Calgary’s starter Scigliano finished with 34 saves on 44 shots while Del Bianco made 8 on 14. Toronto’s Rose stopped 30 of the 40 shots he faced.
The Rock captured 101 loose balls in the game to Calgary’s 77.
The Rock wrap up their three-game home stand against the Colorado Mammoth on Friday, March, 17. The Roughnecks continue their road trip in Georgia on Friday against the league-leading Swarm.
Three Stars Selected by the Media:
Tom Schreiber (TOR)
Brett Hickey (TOR)
Sandy Chapman (TOR)