Before Saturday, Riley Loewen had two career NLL hat tricks – both as a member of the Edmonton Rush against the Roughnecks.
“I always had my best games against Calgary,” said Loewen after scoring three goals and adding an assist to lead the Roughnecks (6-9) to an 11-9 road win over the Rochester Knighthawks (5-9).
Loewen started his career in Edmonton and had one hat trick in his rookie season in 2014 and another the next year. Both were at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary during wins for the Rush over the ’Necks.
The 27-year-old forward also had a career high six points (all assists) to help the newly-relocated Saskatchewan Rush beat the Riggers 19-12 in Saskatoon on Feb. 5, 2016.
Calgary subsequently acquired Loewen last September from Saskatchewan in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2017 NLL Entry Draft and he’s fit in nicely on offence with the ’Necks.
“He’s so easy to play with because he’s so unselfish,” said assistant coach Bob McMahon following Calgary’s second straight win. “He doesn’t need the ball. He gets to the dirty areas and catches passes in tough areas and he finished tonight. He’s played really well. He probably hasn’t been rewarded as well as he’s played up until this date. Tonight he got rewarded for all the dirty stuff he’s done over the last two months.”
After a bit of a slow start to his season, Loewen has now put up 10 points (5g, 5a) in his past three games.
“It’s just building chemistry with all the guys and I think just our offence has been moving the ball a lot more and everyone’s been touching it,” he said. “I think when we do that everyone’s involved in our offence and everyone’s getting looks.”
Curtis Dickson also had a hat trick, including his 300th NLL goal, to go with an assist, while Dane Dobbie scored twice and set up five others for the Riggers, who ended Rochester’s two-game winning streak at home at the Blue Cross Arena.
“Every win in this league is so tough to get, so you treasure them all,” said McMahon, who commended Dobbie not only for his first-star performance, but for making sure to retrieve the ball after Dickson’s milestone moment early in the third quarter. “(He) grabbed it for him and gave it to him in the dressing room, which was great. He doesn’t miss out on too many of those things. He’s really good at team stuff and recognizing other people.”
Wesley Berg (2g, 2a) and Tyler Digby (1g, 3a) also had strong games, while goalie Frank Scigliano made 37 saves to improve his record this season to 6-5.
Joe Resetarits led the way for the Knighthawks (5-9) with two goals and three assists, while Graeme Hossack, Brad Gillies, Cory Vitarelli, Scott Campbell, Jarrett Davis, Kyle Jackson and Dan Lomas also scored.
Matt Vinc finished with 31 saves in the Rochester net.
After Lomas opened the scoring at 2:22 of the first quarter for the Knighthawks, the Riggers bounced right back with goals by Loewen and Digby to take a 2-1 lead.
Vitarelli pulled Rochester even at 9:12 before Dickson scored a highlight-reel goal at 14:11. Dickson cut past Rochester defenders Scott Campbell and Paul Dawson before flicking a one-handed shot past Vinc to put Calgary back up 3-2.
Loewen scored a pair of goals 69 seconds apart early in the second quarter to extend Calgary’s lead before Gillies scored in transition at 12:23.
“I was in the right spots at the right time early, which was nice,” said Loewen.
Dobbie then took a pass from Dickson and fired a sidearm shot past Vince for a power-play goal at 13:57 to put the ’Necks up 6-3.
After Dickson scored 55 seconds into the third quarter, Resetarits and Campbell answered back with goals for the ’Hawks. Dobbie then put the Riggers up 8-5 before Hossack scored a shorthanded goal for Rochester with 33 seconds left in the third quarter.
Calgary tallied three of the first four goals of the fourth quarter – two of them off the stick of Berg – to take a commanding 11-7 lead. Jackson and Davis, with 2.7 seconds left in the game, then rounded out the scoring for the Knighthawks.
Next up, the Riggers will attempt to run their winning streak to three straight games when they host the Buffalo Bandits at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, April 8 (7 p.m.).
“I think our starts are massive,” said Loewen. “When our offence is going, that kind of helps our defence out and then Frankie as well in net. If we just keep doing the same stuff that we’re doing, I think we’ll be fine.”
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