CALGARY, AB — The Calgary Roughnecks surrendered three late goals in the fourth quarter to wind up on the wrong end of a 10-8 score against the Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday.
“That’s a great defence and a great team we just played there,” said Roughnecks forward Dane Dobbie, who notched a hat trick and added an assist in front of 11,977 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “They’re the champs for a reason. We were close to knocking them off, but it’s just one of those games. We’re going to grow and we’re going to keep going and hopefully we keep getting better.”
Dobbie’s three goals gave him 273 in his ninth season with the Roughnecks, which is one off the franchise lead held by Kaleb Toth.
“Kaleb’s a franchise player,” said Dobbie. “His banner’s in the rafters. He taught me the game. He walked me into the NLL. He showed me a lot of the ropes, him and Tracey (Kelusky) and Josh Sanderson. Goals come after you play nine years. It’s one of those things. It would have been nicer to come out with the W tonight.”
Curtis Dickson scored twice and set up two others against the Rush, which relocated to Saskatoon from Edmonton after winning the 2015 Champion’s Cup.
“There was lots that I liked about the game,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “I thought that our compete (level) was really good. I thought our composure was great for a young team. We didn’t panic. We won the first half 5-2 and then we had a tough go in the second half. They’re a good team. They play you in spots to put you under duress and they make you fail.”
Robert Church and Mark Matthews led the way for the Rush with two goals and three assists each. Zach Greer had two goals for Saskatchewan, while Riley Loewen, Chris Corbeil, Adrian Sorichetti and Ben McIntosh also score.
Rookie forward Wesley Berg counted his first National Lacrosse League goal for the Riggers and added a pair of assists.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” said Berg, who the Roughnecks selected in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2015 NLL Draft. “Obviously we wanted a better result, but it was good to get that ice breaker done with and we’ll build from there.”
Jeff Shattler had a goal and an assist for Calgary, while Dan MacRae also scored.
Aaron Bold made 37 saves to pick up the win in the Saskatchewan net, while Frankie Scigliano also stopped 37 shots in a losing cause.
MacRae opened the scoring for the Roughnecks with a goal in transition when he ran up the floor before snapping a shot past Bold at 1:21 of the opening quarter.
After Scigliano stood his ground to make a nice save to stop a shot off the stick of Saskatchewan’s Jarrett Davis, Dobbie put the Riggers up 2-0 at 10:05 of the first when he fired a sidearm, long-range shot past Bold.
Scigliano then kept the ’Necks up by a pair by stopping Sorichetti’s breakaway attempt with just 9.8 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Rush pulled even with a goal by McIntosh at 1:27 of the second quarter and a shorthanded tally by Corbeil just 13 seconds later.
Looking for his first NLL goal, Berg hit the post with long-range shots on two separate occasions early in the second.
Dobbie notched a shorthanded goal at 9:15 before Berg’s persistence paid off as he scored during a Calgary power play at 11:01. Berg’s shot deflected off Saskatchewan defender John LaFontaine and past Bold.
“It felt good obviously to contribute at the time,” said Berg. “We had a little bit of bad luck, so finally it was good to get some good luck. We needed a little bit more of that in the fourth to come back and beat those guys.”
Dickson counted his first of the season 64 seconds later to give Calgary a 5-2 lead heading into the halftime intermission.
Shattler converted a nice feed from Tyler Digby for a quick-stick goal 52 seconds into the third quarter to put the Riggers up by four goals.
Greer then scored a pair of goals 77 seconds apart before Matthews and Loewen counted back-to-back shorthanded goals 61 seconds apart to pull the Rush into a 6-6 tie with the Riggers through three quarters.
“That turns the game around,” said Malawsky. “That’s a veteran team, that’s a championship team. They’ve got a little bit more pedigree than we have.”
Church gave the Rush its first lead at 2:44 of the fourth quarter before Dobbie and Dickson replied with power-play goals 17 seconds apart to put the ’Necks back up 8-7.
Saskatchewan then rallied with three straight goals by Matthews, Church and Sorichetti to start the 2016 NLL season off on a winning note.
Next up, the Riggers will play road games against the Buffalo Bandits next Saturday and the New England Black Wolves on Jan. 15 before returning home to the ’Dome to host the Vancouver Stealth on Saturday, Jan. 30.
“We’re going to have to take the positives out of it and look to be better in Buffalo next weekend,” summed up Malawsky after the game.