Troy Cordingley's connection with Sandersons secret to success with Rock, Roughnecks

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Few NLL head coaches can rival the championship success of Troy Cordingley.

Specifically when it comes to owning titles with two franchises of the pro lacrosse loop.

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Ed Comeau comes to mind with the Rochester Knighthawks and the Georgia Swarm.

And … well … that’s about it, says the now-assistant coach of the Calgary Roughnecks.

“Timing is everything,” said the 57-year-old Cordingley, with a chuckle, of winning with the Roughnecks as bench boss in 2009 and then again in 2011 in the same post with the Toronto Rock.

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“I almost became the only guy to do it with three teams. I was coach of the Buffalo Bandits when we lost the final in 2016.”

A win there would have put him in rare air, for sure.

But just the fact that he’s done it twice — and with two of the NLL’s flagship franchises, who rematch Saturday at Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre (5 p.m., TSN+) after last week’s 9-7 win by the Rock (6-1) over the host Roughnecks (2-5) — is impressive enough.

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“Both have won championships and get unbelievable crowds and get very knowledgeable crowds,” said Cordingley, when asked to compare the two NLL hot spots where he copped NLL championships. “There’s always been good people — real good people involved in both organizations. Both are professionally run. And both franchises have high expectations every single year.

“And that’s what you want, right? You want to be able to put on a good product year after year. So they’re both very similar.”

Similar, as well, is just who was heavily involved in the Cordingley-coached championship victories.

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A couple of Sandersons.

There was Josh — not the head coach of today’s Roughnecks, but ‘Shooter’ Sanderson, the superstar player.

He was a go-to guy for Cordingley with the Riggers in 2009 and the Rock in 2011.

Calgary Roughnecks
Troy Cordingley, right, is pictured behind the Calgary Roughnecks bench in May 2008. Photo by Postmedia /File

“It’s funny how things work out, right?” said Cordingley, of now serving under Sanderson. “I was happy that he asked me to join him in Calgary.

“When I coached him, you could tell that he was a coach in the making — highly intelligent, high-compete-level guy, someone who never took any shortcuts, and he was a real good team leader. And after his career eventually ended, he was assistant GM in Toronto and then went to San Diego and was an assistant coach there for four or five years.

“Now he’s our leader, and I’m happy to be aboard.”

Really, it was a no-brainer for Cordingley to join — along with Sanderson’s cousin, Phil — as an assistant to ‘Shooter’ the coach after a forgettable 4-14 year as bench boss with the Vancouver Warriors in 2023.

“Yeah … it was,” Cordingley said. “First of all, I believe 100% in what Josh is doing — he’s a very knowledgeable coach and doesn’t leave a rock unturned. I worked with his dad, Terry, when we won in Calgary, and I see a lot of similarities between the two — and I gravitate to that.”

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Indeed, Terry is the other Sanderson integral to the Cordingley championships in both cities.

He was the assistant coach in Calgary and the GM/assistant coach with the Rock in the title run two years later.

“Josh’s dad taught me early on in my coaching career that you win with good people — and I’ve always gone that way with my philosophy,” Cordingley said. “And because of that, I see a lot of similarities in this 2024 team with the 2009 team — like the core. There’s a lot of knowledge there, there’s a lot of heart, there’s a lot of passion, and there’s a lot of good people.

“I remember getting to Calgary in 2008, and I liked the core of the team,” recalled Cordingley of his first NLL head coaching gig. “But then we lost our starting goalie, Steve Dietrich, to concussion for most of the year and our captain, Tracey Kelusky, with a concussion, so it was a rocky start that year. But we ended up making the West Division Final and lost to Portland to go to the NLL Final.

“And then the next year, we were fortunate with being healthy. And it was a great year. Everybody bought in, and we dominated from start to finish, to be honest with you. That was a memorable year.”

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But it was his last — at that time — with the Roughnecks.

Otherwise, he might have carried on to carve out a mighty career coaching here.

Troy Cordingley
Troy Cordingley is pictured during his time as Vancouver Warriors head coach. Photo by Photo courtesy of National Lacrosse League /Supplied

“So when I was in Calgary in 2008 and 2009, it was a lot of travel,” Cordingley said. “I was a school teacher working full-time, and I had four kids under the age of seven at that time. And I was missing a lot of their events and things that they were doing, and it just wasn’t fair. It was tough on my wife and tough on my kids.

“And we had won in 2009, and so I stepped down. And a couple of weeks later, Jamie Dawick, who still owns the Rock, had just purchased the team and asked me if I wanted to come aboard. And then when I was there, we lost in the finals in 2010 but won in 2011.

“Now I’m with Calgary again, looking forward to getting back to where this team needs to get to.”

Back to another championship, that is.

“Yeah …” added Cordingley. “I’m kind of greedy and want more.”

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