CALGARY, AB — Heading into the 2016 National Lacrosse League campaign, Curtis Dickson set a realistic target for himself of scoring 50 goals.
After all, he scored 48 goals last season with the Calgary Roughnecks, so 50 was definitely doable. Not only did Dickson reach that goal, he blew it out of the water as he found the back of the net 61 times. He also had 46 assists to give him a career-high 107 points.
While the 27-year-old product of Port Coquitlam, B.C., knew he had it in himself to reach the half century mark in goals, he even surprised himself by becoming just the fourth player in NLL history to surpass 60.
The others were Gary Gait of the Colorado Mammoth (61 in 2003), Athan Iannucci of the Philadelphia Wings (71 in 2008) and Dhane Smith of the Buffalo Bandits, who set a new NLL standard with 72 goals this season.
When asked if he thought he would reach the lofty standard at the outset of the season, Dickson replied: “No, since there was only three other guys in league history that have done it. Obviously, I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the guys around me. They find me in open spots. Thankfully, a lot of them went in this year.”
Many of his goals were of the highlight-reel variety. In addition to scoring several goals while diving through the air, the man nicknamed ‘Superman’ also bounced a pair of shots through his own legs and past a pair of baffled NLL goalies.
“You put the ball on his stick and he makes something out of nothing,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky after Dickson bounced a shot through his legs that beat Toronto Rock netminder Nick Rose to the top corner during a 15-10 road win for the Riggers on March 11. “He’s a special, special player.”
New NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz was on hand when Dickson put a similar shot past goalie Tyler Richards in the second quarter of a 14-13 overtime loss to the Vancouver Stealth at the Langley Events Centre on Feb. 20.
“I saw a goal in (Langley) that was unbelievable,” said Sakiewicz, who encouraged Dickson to keep using his creativity to score goals that bring fans to their feet. “I actually stood probably 20 feet from that when he scored that. Just keep doing that. Does it get better than that? As long as those star players in our league keep producing those … and they do every weekend.”
When told that Sakiewicz would love to see him replicate the feat of backhanding no-look shots through his legs past unsuspecting goalies, Dickson laughed and replied: “You’ll have to talk to coach about that one too. I don’t know if he’s too keen about me trying that all the time.”
But if the new commissioner wants him to keep scoring goals that make Top 10 lists on Sportsnet, TSN and ESPN, who is he to argue?
“From what we’ve seen so far, he’s doing a great job,” said Dickson of Sakiewicz. “If he wants me to keep doing that, then I might have to try and keep him happy. We’ll see how it turns out.”
For now, Dickson and the Roughnecks (8-10) are focusing on their upcoming first-round playoff game against the Colorado Mammoth (12-6) on Saturday (7 p.m.) at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
“It may sound cliché, but (scoring 61 goals) is a great thing to look back at when your career’s over, but obviously we’re focusing on this weekend,” said Dickson, who had a hat trick and two assists to help lead the Riggers to a 10-6 win over the Mammoth in Denver a year ago on May 9 in the first round of the 2015 NLL playoffs. “We’re going to study up on our film and be ready to go. We’ve got to win when it counts.”
Malawsky is also confident that the ’Necks can continue their post-season success against the Mammoth this weekend.
“We’re going to be going in firing on all cylinders down in Denver,” he said.