EDMONTON, AB — The Calgary Roughnecks can cross ‘clinch a home playoff date’ off their to-do list.
A Shawn Evans goal over 10 minutes into overtime against the Edmonton Rush gave the Roughnecks the 12-11 victory, the top spot in the West Division, and a playoff date with the Colorado Mammoth next weekend.
“It’s great to have first place and home field advantage coming back,” said the returning Daryl Veltman, who scored a game-high five goals and added three helpers.
“We’ve had it the last couple of years and it’s in our favour to go back to the ‘Dome in front of 12,000 strong Calgary fans.”
For all players involved, it was the longest overtime period they’ve ever been apart of.
With each possession in extra time, fans were on the edge of their seats, watching goalies make game-saving saves and a few lucky bounces.
The Rush whipped one off the crossbar. Roughnecks forward Joe Resatarits did the same. Curtis Dickson had a couple of chances up close. Both teams used their timeouts to draw up a play, but nobody scored.
That was until Evans was able to slip behind the Rush defender, catch the pass from Scott Ranger and beat goalie Aaron Bold five-hole at the 10:05 mark of the overtime.
“You just wanted it to go into the back of the net, I can tell you that much,” said Evans. “Ten minutes of overtime, playing every shift going out there and battling hard it finds the back of the night.
“It’s relieving knowing that you won it and how hard you guys fought.”
The amount of overtime was historic – it was the fifth longest game in NLL history — but all players involved were glad to see it end when it did.
“I’ve been in the league for eight years, and I’m sure I’ve been involved with one like that, but this one stands out right now as a good one and a hard fought battle for our team,” said Evans.
In the tight West Division where first and last are separated by just two games, Calgary sits as the top dog – a spot they’ve been conveying all season.
But in the first quarter, it didn’t look like the Roughnecks would earn the accolade.
Edmonton came out firing and was able to hold a 6-1 early in the second frame after goals from Zack Greer, Alex Turner, Curtis Knight, Brett Mydske, Mark Matthews and Ryan Ward.
It set up a comeback for the Roughnecks, and they were able to cut the deficit down to 8-7 by the end.
Goals came from Travis Cornwall, Scott Ranger, Daryl Veltman, Curtis Dickson (x2) and Jeff Shattler. Shawn Evans dished his third helper of the night on Ranger’s goal, giving him 105 points on the season and a new franchise record, breaking the mark held by Josh Sanderson and Lewis Ratcliff. Evans would finish the night with 10 points and 112 points on the season.
Both teams tightened up in the third quarter, with Edmonton doubling their lead to two heading into the final quarter.
Calgary continued the comeback and Veltman’s fifth goal of the night with under 90 seconds in the game tied the game up for the first time all game.
The Roughnecks had one last chance in the dying seconds of regulation, with Ranger sniping the ball off the crossbar and out of harms way.
In a sport where sometimes the first possession wins in overtime, it wasn’t until the tenth shot on net where the Roughnecks were able to pick up the win.
Goaltender Mike Poulin was a busy man facing 53 shots for the victory. Counterpart Bold turned away 38 shots in the defeat.
Calgary was perfect on three powerplay opportunities, while killing off one of two penalties.
The Divison Semi-Final will go next Saturday at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Tickets will go on sale online and at Ticketmaster locations starting at 10 a.m. on Monday.