CALGARY, AB — Dan Dawson scored 1:16 into overtime to hand the Calgary Roughnecks their third straight overtime defeat, falling 9-8 to the Rochester Knighthawks at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
The Roughnecks (3-7) took an early 3-2 lead in the first quarter, but the Knighthawks (4-4) gained the edge in the second quarter and didn’t surrender the lead the rest of the way.
Curtis Dickson sent the contest into an extra session when he scored his fourth goal of the game, a hard, underhand shot from the outside to tie the game 8-8, with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.
“It’s tough but it’s sport. There’s no real answer for it,” said Riggers coach Curt Malawsky. “We changed a lot of things this weekend to try to give ourselves a little bit of extra energy in the fourth quarter and the second half and I thought that we did do that. I thought our guys were amazing and they battled. From a coach’s perspective you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Wesley Berg had five assists on the night while Jeff Shattler (1g, 2a), Reilly O’Connor (1g, 1a), Karsen Leung (1g) and Tyler Burton (1g) rounded out the scoring for Calgary.
It was Dickson’s third four-goal game of the season and his performance vaulted him into second in the NLL goal scoring race with 29.
“We knew it was going to be close throughout,” said Dickson. “It’s always close with these guys, they are a great team. We managed to hang in there and obviously had a better second half than we’ve had in the past couple of weeks but it’s still a loss in the standings and we have to find a way to win.”
Mike Poulin made his second straight start for the Roughnecks and made 37 saves.
Cody Jamison paced the Knighthawks offense with four goals and three assists. Dawson (2g, 4a), Joe Resetarits (1g, 3a), Joe Walters (2a), Dylan Evans (1a), Cory Vitarelli (1a), Scott Campbell(1a) and Stephen Keogh (2g) chipped in on the scoresheet for Rochester.
Veteran netminder Matt Vinc was between the pipes for Rochester and turned aside 46 shots.
“There are a lot of different facets in the game that go into an outcome like that and effort wasn’t one of them,” Malawsky said. “We just have to bear down on some of our execution.
“That’s a championship team the last few years — outside of last year — and a championship goalie. I thought we played them tough. That’s a valuable experience that we’re going to have going forward.”
Four of the last five outings by the Roughnecks have been decided by a single goal, with Calgary coming out on top just once. Malawsky says crushing defeats like this one are all part of the process and will have a positive impact in the future.
“That’s experience in life, you have to walk those miles and we are walking some dirty miles right now, to be quite honest with you,” Malawsky said. “We’re going to bounce back and we’re going to do everything we possibly can. We’re going to fight. Our crowd is behind us, the city is behind us and the organization is behind us. I know those men are hurting right now but they can be proud of their effort.”
The loss dropped the Roughnecks to the bottom of the West Division, a half-game back of the Vancouver Stealth. With eight games left on the docket, Calgary still has a realistic shot at getting into the post-season for the 14th consecutive season, but will need a strong second half push.
“It’s tough, it hurts and you ask yourself why but there is a reason for everything,” Malawsky said. “We are 10 games in, I understand that, and there are eight games left. You just have to start climbing that mountain. Are we down at the bottom right now? Absolutely, but I look at the standings and we are still in striking distance of the playoffs.
“We will never give up. This team will never quit.”
Cody Jamison put the ‘Hawks out front early after Shattler opened the scoring when he scored a pair of quick goals.
Dickson gave the Roughnecks their only lead of the game when he tallied back-to-back goals near the close of the opening quarter. First he danced towards the Rochester goal and dropped the ball over Vinc’s shoulder for his 26th of the season. He followed that up with his patented outside shot that eluded Vinc and entered the cage low to provide Calgary with a 3-2 lead.
Former Roughnecks’ forward and 2012 6th overall draft pick Joe Resesterits gave the K’Hawks a 4-3 advantage when he stepped around his defender and blasted a sidearm shot low past Poulin.
The Roughnecks found the iron twice near the end of the first half. Dickson hit the crossbar after Berg found him wide open with a beautiful over-the-shoulder pass and then Shattler rang one off the post when Poulin sent the ball the length of the floor after stoning Keogh on a prime scoring chance.
“It’s kind of the story the last few weeks here … It’s frustrating,” said Dickson. “You get chances like that you have to be able to put those in the net but we’re not going to make excuses. You’ve got to find a way to put the ball in and the offense has got to find a way to do our job.”
Rochester added to their lead when Keogh scored his second of the game sending a bounce-shot through Poulin’s five-hole.
Burton scored his second goal in as many games in transition was in all alone and blew a shot past Vinc to cut the Knighthawks lead to 5-4.
Reilly O’Connor tied the game in the third quarter when he worked on the inside of the crease and through of defender Brad Self. O’Connor took a shot in desperation as the shot clock ticked down and it somehow found its way past Vinc to tie the game. It was the rookie’s fourth goal in his last four games.
“Reilly is a great player. We drafted him because he has great lacrosse IQ,” Malawsky said. “He’s a competitor, he’s a winner, he’s won Minto Cups, he’s been in those situations that it takes to be successful here. It’s a big jump from Junior ‘A’ lacrosse. He played with men for a year (in Senior ‘A’) but it’s a big jump to the NLL and he’s playing big minutes. We had Reilly kind of sliding in as our third left and now you could argue that him and (Shattler) are one and two.
“For a young guy to have those minutes and those roles, I’m very proud of him.”
Poulin made his best save of the night when facing Rochester’s powerplay. Walters sent a pass to Resisterits who quick-stick’d the ball into what looked to be a wide open net, but Poulin slid over to deny the opportunity.
Jamieson completed his hat-trick after blowing an outside overhand shot past Poulin and restoring a two-goal edge for the K’Hawks.
With the Roughnecks on the powerplay, Dickson took a pass from Berg and beat Vinc and record his 5th hat-trick of the season. The marker also drew the Riggers even, 7-7 as the third quarter ended.
Jamieson rattled off his fourth of the night with 5:15 remaining on the clock to give Rochester an 8-7 lead. The goal followed what appeared to be Calgary strike that initially looked like Tyler Digby hit both posts. Play resumed but the replay showed the ball clearly entered the net briefly which prompted Malawsky to throw a challenge flag. The officials decline the challenge as too much time had passed for a review.
Poulin preserved the tie with just over four minutes left. Rochester had a pair of prime scoring chances and Poulin turned aside both of them. First it was Keogh and then Jamieson.
Rochester scored with less than two minutes remaining but the goal was waved off after a review showed that Reseterits foot was in crease before he made an unbelievable play, diving backwards to put a shot past Poulin.
Calgary was awarded a powerplay with 1:04 left in the fourth quarter after rookie Graeme Hossack was whistled for holding. The Roughnecks couldn’t convert with the man advantage, which carried through into the overtime session.
“Anytime you get a powerplay at the end of the game like that and it carries into overtime, we have to find a way to score,” Dickson said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and we’re sitting here with another loss.”
Next up, the Riggers will travel East to battle the Toronto Rock at the Air Canada Center on Friday, Mar. 11.
“It’s a short week. We’ve got to have a short memory here and it’s a big one next weekend,” Dickson said. “Watch film, see what we did right, see what we did wrong and be ready to go next weekend.”