The Calgary Roughnecks dug themselves an early hole before bouncing back with a great final frame.
Calgary reeled off six straight goals in the fourth quarter en route to a 16-13 win over the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday in front of 16,606 fans at the First Niagara Center.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our group of guys,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “You don’t always want to leave it until the fourth quarter, but if you’re down you’re not going to quit, so you play it out. We were a little bit quiet at the start of the game, but we were able to dig down deep and show that character that our guys have got in the room. It’s never over until you quit and this group doesn’t quit.”
For the Roughnecks (10-5), it was their second road win in as many nights and fourth victory in a row. With the win, the Riggers clinched at least second spot in the National Lacrosse League’s West Division and home-floor advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
“We did the first step, got into the playoffs, and now we did the second step and clinched a home playoff game,” said forward Shawn Evans. “Now we’ve just got to keep going and build on being at our best when playoff time hits.”
Just like they did during Calgary’s 13-9 win in Philadelphia over the Wings one night earlier, Evans and Dane Dobbie led the way offensively for the ’Necks against the Bandits. For the second straight game, Dobbie fired four goals and set up another, while Evans matched his seven-point outing from the night before with two goals and five assists against Buffalo.
“The best part about (Evans) is if he’s not on, it doesn’t mean that we’re out of it because he makes everybody around him better,” said Malawsky, while commending Dobbie for going to the tough areas to score goals. “He’s willing to go to the middle of the floor when the game is on the line and when it’s real ugly in there. A lot of guys don’t and he does. In my personal opinion that’s the way that lacrosse is supposed to be played, in the middle of the floor. He’s a special guy and he scores special goals for that reason.”
Geoff Snider had a great game as he notched the game-winning goal to go with two assists. He also scooped up 11 loose balls, while winning 24 of 31 faceoff attempts.
“He’s one of our emotional pillars out there,” Malawsky said. “He battles so hard and competes so hard. Sometimes it doesn’t quite go his way, but he sticks with it and the guys love him. I’m glad he’s on our team and not someone else’s.”
Curtis Dickson scored a pair of clutch fourth-quarter goals, while Daryl Veltman (2g, 2a) Karsen Leung (1g, 1a), Jon Harnett (1g, 1a) and Jeff Shattler (4a) also had multiple-point performances. Defencemen Garrett McIntosh, Curtis Manning and Greg Harnett chipped in with a goal apiece.
Goalie Mike Poulin made 36 saves to record his 10th win of the season. Frankie Scigliano also saw 10:42 of playing time in the first half and stopped six of eight shots he faced.
Ryan Benesch scored twice and added four assists for the Bandits (8-6), who held leads of 4-0 in the first quarter, 7-3 in the second and 12-9 after the third. Jay Thorimbert and former Roughneck Joe Resetarits notched two goals and two helpers each for Buffalo, which has dropped four straight decisions.
Dhane Smith scored twice and set up one for the Bandits, while John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis, Aaron Wilson, Chad Culp and Mitch Wilde also scored. For Tavares, it was the 800th goal of his stellar NLL career.
Buffalo goalie Anthony Cosmo stopped 35 of 50 shots he faced in a losing cause.
During “Tucker Out Lymphoma Night” in Buffalo, Shawn Williams set up three goals for the Bandits, including the 700th assist of his NLL career. The night featured multiple events and fundraisers throughout the game in support of Shawn’s son Tucker Williams and his fight against Burkett’s Lymphoma.
“The emotion of all that was an incredible atmosphere,” Evans said. “It was just a great game to play lacrosse. Everyone stepped up. Everyone did their part and we had a great win.”
Resetarits gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead at 4:04 of the first when he bounced a shot past Poulin. Wilson, Culp and Benesch then reeled off three goals in 33 seconds to help the Bandits extend their lead to 4-0.
With the Riggers on a power play, Cosmo stood his ground to stop consecutive shots by Dobbie, Greg Harnett and Shattler. McIntosh finally solved Cosmo at 11:11 of the first when he picked the top corner behind the Buffalo goalie on Calgary’s ninth shot of the game.
Smith put the Bandits up 5-1 at 13:26 of the opening frame before Leung replied with a goal for the Riggers 54 seconds later when his shot rang off the post before bouncing off of Cosmo’s back and across the goal line.
Calgary and Buffalo went goal-for-goal with each other in the second quarter as each team scored four times. Evans led the way for the Riggers with a pair of goals, while Dobbie and Greg Harnett also scored. Wilde, Steenhuis, Thorimbert and Resetarits did the damage for the Bandits, who took a 9-6 lead into the halftime intermission.
Despite being outshot 17-7 in the third quarter, the Roughnecks matched the Bandits goal for goal once again as each team scored three times. Dobbie converted a feed from Evans 3:04 into the third quarter before Thorimbert replied with a spectacular diving wraparound goal 12 seconds later to put the Bandits back up by three.
Veltman then counted two of the next three goals for Calgary before Tavares scored during a two-man advantage for Buffalo at 13:49 of the third.
Dickson, Manning and Dobbie scored three goals in a span of 1:55 early in the fourth to tie up the game. Dickson then scored his second of the night before Snider finished off a feed from Peter McFetridge to put the Riggers up for good.
“One thing with us is we never gave up,” Evans said. “The fourth quarter has been our strongest quarter of the year, so we chipped away and kept going and the balls started finding the back of the net. It was good team win.”
Dobbie then notched his fourth of the contest before Smith scored for Buffalo to stop Calgary’s six-goal outburst. Jon Harnett rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal with 15 seconds left in the game.
Next up, the Riggers will play their final home game of the 2014 regular season when they host the Edmonton Rush at the Scotibank Saddledome next Saturday (7 p.m.). The two Alberta rivals will then meet for a rematch a week later on April 19 in Edmonton at Rexall Place.
“We’re going to enjoy these two wins and then we’ll re-evaluate for Edmonton,” Malawsky said. “They’re the cream of the crop in this league. They set the standard. They beat us by seven and eight goals respectively, so we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re going to come home and we’re going to regroup and we’re going to prepare for a real tough battle at the ’Dome.”