The Roughnecks battled back to beat the defending NLL Champion, Toronto Rock in the season opener.
The Calgary Roughnecks battled back from 5-0 and 6-1 deficits on the road to beat the defending National Lacrosse League champion Toronto Rock 12-9 on Sunday.
Dane Dobbie had a hat trick and three helpers to lead the Calgary offence.
“We knew it was going to come,” Dobbie said. “We just kept moving and we knew we were going to get our chances. At the start of third, they started falling for us and we went on a little bit of a run and never really looked back.”
Scott Ranger and Shawn Evans chipped in with two goals and an assist each. Ranger scored his goals 96 seconds apart early in the third quarter and the second one stood up as the game-winner.
“I was struggling a little bit in the first half,” Ranger said. “I knew I had to step up and do my part for the boys. I was fortunate enough to put the ball in the net.”
During the half-time intermission, Ranger said he and his fellow forwards talked about how they needed to play better in the third and fourth quarters.
“We knew we stunk the place out in the first half,” Ranger said. “It was all on the offence. The defence played well. We had a little offensive meeting and said we needed to wake up and we did. Guys stepped up and we ended up getting two points here.”
Calgary coach Dave Pym was pleased to see Ranger respond with such a clutch effort late in the game.
“I called Ranger out when we were going onto the floor that he had to be better,” Pym said. “I thought that he delivered.”
Jeff Shattler, the reigning league MVP, had a strong game with a goal and four assists, while 2011 NLL Rookie of the Year Curtis Manning scored once and set up three others. Cory Conway had a three-point night (1g, 2a), while Mike Carnegie and Daryl Veltman also scored.
Colin Doyle led the Toronto offence with a goal and three assists, while Sandy Chapman, Dan Carey, Garrett Billings, Blaine Manning, Phil Sanderson, Josh Sanderson, Kasey Beirnes and Stephen Hoar also scored.
Calgary goalie Mike Poulin, who led the league with 11 wins last season, made 30 saves to record the victory.
Making his first start for Toronto since being acquired in an off-season trade with the Washington Stealth, Rock goalie Matt Roik stopped 46-of-58 shots he faced in a losing cause.
After an extended pre-game celebration in which Toronto raised its 2011 NLL Champion’s Cup banner to the rafters at the Air Canada Centre, the Rock jumped out to a 5-0 lead through one quarter of play.
“The NLL’s a game of runs,” Dobbie said. “That’s what this league is all about. Toronto got hot early.”
Conway then got the Riggers on the board early in the second quarter before Manning scored to put Toronto up 6-1. After Dobbie notched his first of the contest, Carnegie scored a short-handed goal to pull the Riggers within three before the end of the second quarter.
The ’Necks then reeled off four more goals, two by Evans, early in the third to pull ahead 7-6 before Doyle and Phil Sanderson scored to put the Rock back up by one.
Curtis Dickson counted a power-play goal for Calgary late in the third before Ranger’s heroics early in the final frame. Dobbie added a pair of insurance markers to put the game away.
“I thought that we stuck with our game plan and stayed focused and believed in ourselves,” Pym said. “I thought our conditioning was excellent and it showed in the third and fourth quarters that we were able to persevere.”
Next up, the Roughnecks then travel to Everett, Wash., to face the Stealth on Saturday, Jan. 14.
Calgary’s home opener is set for Saturday, Jan. 21 when the Roughnecks host the Colorado Mammoth. Game time is 7:00 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome.