When asked about his team’s performance on Saturday night, Toronto Rock head coach Matt Sawyer didn’t mince words.
“That was the furthest thing from the type of game and performance that we needed to come in and win on a road,” he said postgame. “We got dominated. We got pushed around out there and it wasn’t good enough.”
The Rock were playing catchup all night, but they weren’t able to to get within striking distance, losing 15-9 to the Calgary Roughnecks.
Toronto was at a disadvantage from the jump, as sharpshooter Adam Jones and defender Sheldon Burns were both late scratches. Adam Jay and Phil Caputo took their respective places in the lineup as a result.
The Rock’s offensive struggles from their last game against the New England Black Wolves carried over to start of this contest. After potting just two goals in the second half of that game, they scored just one goal in the first quarter and three in the first half on Saturday.
Calgary led 6-1 just 3:13 into the second frame and pushed its advantage to 7-3 heading into the locker rooms.
Toronto made an effort to get back in the game, but Calgary halted every push the Rock made. There wasn’t a multi-goal run from the visitors until the fourth quarter, when Brock Sorensen and Dan Lintner scored a pair in 56 seconds. Roughnecks starter Christian Del Bianco did his best brick wall impression throughout the contest, stopping 46 shots and keeping the Rock at bay during several key stretches.
His counterpart, Nick Rose, was pegged with the loss, making just 29 saves on the night.
Curtis Dickson had a casual outing, posting an eight-assist game to lead the Riggers in points. Superman also dropped the gloves with Caputo after the latter caught Dan McRae with a high check in the final minutes.
Dane Dobbie (1 G, 6 A), Rhys Duch (4 G, 2 A), Riley Loewen (3 G, 2 A), and Tyler Pace (3 G, 1 A) all had productive offensive nights as well.
For the Rock, it was a different story up front. Tom Schreiber posted four assists, Dan Lintner had a hat trick, and Dan Craig put up a goal and a pair of helpers, but Rob Hellyer was held to just one assist on the night.
Sawyer added that his offence was “quite content” to settle for outside looks instead of forcing their way into the high-danger areas.
Discipline was also an issue for the Rock, who had 41 penalty minutes. Calgary scored on five of their seven man advantages and at even strength, the Riggers’ forwards were able to get behind the Toronto defence for point-blank looks on Rose.
“We came out of a bye week and we obviously weren’t ready to play tonight,” Lintner said postgame. “Our offence, our defence, our goalies, whatever you want to call it, we just flat out weren’t ready to start the game today”
With the loss – and a Georgia Swarm win on Saturday – the Rock have slipped to third place in the East Division.
They now enter the biggest stretch of the campaign, with seven of their final eight games coming against divisional opponents. The Rock will face the Rochester Knighthawks in a weeks time. The following weekend, they’ll play a back-to-back on the road against the Swarm and Buffalo Bandits – the top two teams in the east.
“I don’t think we can turn the page (on this game) too quick,” Sawyer said. “I think we need to look at the one and look at ourselves over the last month and get better from that. This isn’t something that you can just pass off. We need to look at it, analyze it, and find ways to become a better team.”