EDMONTON, AB — Curtis Dickson made sure that the Calgary Roughnecks didn’t go winless against the Edmonton Rush this season.
Dickson scored seven times including the game-winning goal at 4:13 of overtime on Saturday to lead the Roughnecks (11-6) to a thrilling 14-13 victory over the Rush (15-2).
“It’s obviously nice, especially to do it against these guys,” said Dickson of his seven-game outburst. “They’re the best defence in the league. They held me scoreless and to one goal for a couple games this year, so it’s nice to be able to hang seven on them. It’s a big team win and a big confidence boost for us heading into the final week of the season and into the playoffs.”
Calgary coach Curt Malawsky commended Dickson for his stellar effort against the Rush, which had won the previous three meetings of the season between the two National Lacrosse League teams.
“When someone’s got a hot hand, you’ve got to ride him,” Malawsky said. “Our guys were getting him the ball and our guys were creating space for him. He’s got the capability of breaking a game open. Going down the stretch and in the playoffs, you need your best players to be your best players. I think any coach will tell you that. Tonight, he was one of our best players and he proved it out there. He had a great game.”
Even though Edmonton and Calgary had locked up first and second spots in the NLL’s West Division respectively, the two teams put on quite a show for the 8,756 fans in attendance at Rexall Place.
“I think the fans really got their money’s worth tonight, because it could have gone either way,” Malawsky said. “It was a playoff atmosphere. This has been a tough building for us to win in. We got cleaned up the last three times we played these guys. We were a little bit closer last week (during a 15-11 setback to the Rush in Calgary). It was a big hurdle for us. It showed that we can step in there and play.”
Thanks to an 18-12 road win over the Minnesota Swarm, the Colorado Mammoth (7-10) clinched third spot in the West Division. In the opening round of the playoffs, the Riggers will have home-field advantage over the Mammoth when the two teams face off against each other at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, May 3 (7 p.m.).
“They’re a formidable opponent,” Malawsky said. “They’ve a very, very sound team. They don’t give you anything for free so it’s going to be a battle. My guess is that it’ll be a one-goal game either way.”
Shawn Evans had a hat trick and three helpers in Calgary’s OT win over Edmonton on Saturday, while Daryl Veltman and Dane Dobbie chipped in with a goal and six assists each. Jeff Shattler had a goal and an assist and Geoff Snider also scored. Jon Harnett had three assists, while Scott Ranger had a pair of helpers.
Frankie Scigliano started in net for Calgary and made 28 saves before being replaced by Mike Poulin, who stopped 10 of 11 shots he faced, including four in overtime, to record his 11th win of the season.
Chris Corbeil and Mark Matthews paced the Rush attack with three goals and an assist each, while Robert Church (2g, 2a), Zack Greer (2g, 1a), Curtis Knight (1g, 3a), Jarrett Davis (1g, 2a) and Jeff Cornwall (1g, 1a) also hit the scoresheet.
Aaron Bold kept his team in the game with 33 saves until Dickson cut to the slot and fired a sidearm shot past the Edmonton goalie to win the game for Calgary.
“There’s been a few games this year where he’s had my number,” Dickson said. “Sometimes they just find their way through the traffic and squeak in.”
The Rush jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead on a goal by Matthews 36 seconds into the game before Shattler scored to tie things up 17 seconds later. Edmonton then took a 3-1 lead on goals by Davis and Matthews before Snider pulled the Riggers back within a goal.
The Riggers pushed hard to draw even as Shattler rang a shot off the post before Bold stood his ground to turn aside a breakaway attempt by Dobbie. Corbeil then put the Rush up 4-2 before Dobbie scored with 2.5 seconds left in the opening frame following a Calgary timeout.
After Greer scored early in the second to put Edmonton back up by a pair, Scigliano made a nice save to deny a quick-stick attempt by Matthews. Dickson and Evans then converted back-to-back breakaway attempts to pull Calgary into a 5-5 tie with their Alberta rivals.
Matthews then scored his hat-trick goal before Dickson matched that output with his second and third goals of the second quarter to give the Riggers a 7-6 lead heading into the halftime intermission.
Dickson continued his hot hand with both of Calgary’s goals in the third quarter, while Church tallied a pair for Edmonton. Dickson’s fifth goal of the game at 9:23 of the third put the Riggers up 9-8 before Corbeil scored on a breakaway just under two minutes later to tie up the contest heading into the final frame.
Knight, Greer and Cornwall fired three goals in a span of 1:54 early in the fourth before Calgary responded with a run of three goals in 60 seconds by Dickson Evans and Veltman.
Corbeil completed his hat trick at 8:03 of the fourth to put Edmonton up 13-12 before Evans forced overtime by scoring from the slot with 46.3 seconds in regulation.
The Roughnecks will round out the regular season when they take on the Vancouver Stealth at the Langley Events Centre next Saturday, April 26.
“We’ve still got a game next weekend in Vancouver and that’s an important one for us,” Malawsky said. “We’re going to saddle up and get ready for that one.”