CALGARY, AB — Fans of the Calgary Roughnecks have become accustomed to Curtis ‘Superman’ Dickson scoring clutch goals in the fourth quarter.
Dickson did it again on Sunday afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome as he scored a pair of power-play goals late in the final frame to lead the Roughnecks to a 13-12 exhibition win over the visiting Vancouver Stealth
“Those are always nice to win,” said Dickson, who also chipped in with a pair of assists. “We lost a lot of those games last year, the one-goal type games. It’s nice to get one on the other end of the spectrum and get it out of the way early.”
Due to injury, Dickson wasn’t able to suit up for Calgary’s pre-season game at the ’Dome last year so he was glad to get the chance to play in front of 9,506 fans on Sunday.
“It’s just a testament to our fans,” he said. “They came out almost 10,000 people for an exhibition game in the middle of December. It’s going to be a fun year and it’s nice to see they’re coming out in big numbers. We’re excited to get things going.”
New Calgary captain Mike Carnegie wasn’t surprised to see Dickson fire a pair of shots from the high slot past Vancouver goalie Eric Penney.
“He’s one of the best shooters in the league,” said Carnegie. “He’s had some big games in the past for us right at the end of the game where he can kind of steal it away from them. It’s nice to see him step back into that mix. Some of the young offensive guys can lean on that and learn from that.”
While Dickson did the damage for the Riggers late in the game, it was newcomer Tyler Digby who helped set the table for his heroics.
Digby’s fifth goal of the game at 5:42 of the fourth quarter pulled the ’Necks into an 11-11 tie with the Stealth before Keegan Bal completed his hat trick for Vancouver exactly a minute later.
“If you look at the scoresheet, I’d say he was pretty darn impressive,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky, who added that Digby did great work which led to Dickson’s goals even though he wasn’t credited with any assists. “What he did was he opened things up for Dickson. He created some stuff at the end on the power play there because Digger was in the middle and they’ve got to pay attention to him.”
Digby was actually chosen by the Stealth in the third round, 20th overall, of the 2013 National Lacrosse League Draft. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound forward recorded a career-high 74 points (38 goals, 36 assists) for the Stealth last season before he was traded twice in a span of two days in October.
“He played extremely well,” said Carnegie. “It’s nice to see him play against his old team too and come out and stick it to them a bit. It’s exactly what we need out of him. To see him pop five that was quite impressive.”
The Riggers eventually acquired Digby and a pair of first-round draft selections in 2018 and 2019 from the New England Black Wolves for Shawn Evans and a third-round selection in 2018.
“It’s awesome,” said Digby of making a successful debut at the ’Dome. “Even when I first came out for the starting lineups, there was huge crowd noise. I felt very welcome and I was ready to go. I had the blood rushing and I think it showed.”
Playing against his old team only helped fuel Digby’s fire.
“There was definitely a little extra,” he said. “I’ll try to come out with that every single game. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. You’re paid to play here and you have to come out with that effort all the time.”
Dane Dobbie and Jeff Shattler also had productive games for Calgary as they chipped in with a goal and five assists each. Rookie forward Wesley Berg had a goal and an assist, while Dan MacRae, Curtis Manning and Karsen Leung added singles.
Frankie Scigliano played the first half in net for Calgary and stopped 14 of 20 shots he faced. Mike Poulin then made seven saves in the fourth quarter before Christian Del Bianco allowed just two goals on 11 shots in the fourth to record the win.
“I thought Christian Del Bianco locked it down for us in the fourth quarter,” said Malawsky.
Joel McCready led the way for the Stealth with four goals and one assist, while Rhys Duch scored twice and set up two others. Curtis Hodgson and Corey Small had a goal and two assists each for Vancouver, while Penney finished with 41 saves.
The Roughnecks will open up the regular season at the Saddledome on Jan. 2 when they host the Saskatchewan Rush, which relocated to Saskatoon from Edmonton after winning the 2015 Champion’s Cup.