The Calgary Roughnecks can build off a lot of positives following Saturday’s 12-11 overtime loss to the Saskatchewan Rush.
The Riggers built up leads of 6-3, 7-4 and 9-6 before the Rush battled back to win their sixth straight game in front of 15,045 fans at the Sasktel Centre thanks to a goal by Adam Jones at 1:16 of the extra session.
“They’re the best team in the league and you’ve got to bring your A game every time you them, especially in Saskatoon,” said Calgary forward Wesley Berg, who led the Roughnecks with four goals and two assists. “You’re not going to get anything given to you. A game like this could have gone either way until the end.”
Berg scored his fourth goal of the game for Calgary at 13:09 of the fourth quarter to force overtime and Curtis Dickson had a great chance to end the game early in the extra session, but he was denied by Edmonton goalie Aaron Bold, who finished with 34 saves.
“We’re going to take away from it that our work ethic was exceptional,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “Our mental discipline was exceptional. The guys left it all out there. It was a battle in a tough environment against the top team in the NLL. That’s something really good for us to build on and it could be a turning point to our season.”
Dane Dobbie scored twice and set up three others for the Roughnecks (3-5), Tyler Digby had a hat trick and a helper, while Jeff Shattler and Garrett McIntosh also scored.
Dickson set up three goals, while Mitch Wilde had a pair of assists in his first game as a Roughneck.
“Mitch Wilde made a couple huge passes up the floor and ran really well in transition,” said Malawsky. “He’s a big body on defence and made some great plays. I thought he had a great, great game. He’s going to be a big part of our organization going forward. He’s as good as advertised.”
Looking for his first National Lacrosse League victory, goalie Christian Del Bianco made 35 saves in the Calgary net.
“He made some huge saves going down the stretch there,” said Malawsky. “For his first full start, I thought he was great.”
Ben McIntosh and Robert Church had hat tricks for the Rush (6-2), while Jones finished with two goals and two assists. Mark Matthews had a goal and six assists, while Mike Messenger, Jeff Cornwall and Matthew Dinsdale also scored.
The Riggers built up a 3-2 lead through one quarter of play and then went up by two goals after Berg scored on a power play at 4:50 of the second.
After Cornwall replied for the Rush, Dobbie fooled Bold by flicking a no-look, behind-the-back shot through the Saskatchewan goalie’s legs.
After Digby scored two of the next three markers, Ben McIntosh netted a pair of goals to pull Saskatchewan within one heading into the half-time intermission.
Shattler and Dobbie scored early in the second half before the Rush reeled off four straight goals to go up 10-9.
Berg did his best to force the game into OT, but the ’Necks weren’t able to find a way to end their losing streak against the Rush, which now stands at 10 games.
“We didn’t build our lead and we let them back in,” said Berg. “Fourth quarter and overtime, it could have been anyone’s game, but we’ve got to finish them in the third when we’re up like that.”
The Roughnecks will travel to Denver to play the Colorado Mammoth next Friday before returning home to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday (7 p.m.) to face the Georgia Swarm.
“The defence and goaltending have been there all year,” noted Berg. “If you put the other two pieces together with the transition and offence, then we’re going to be a hard team to beat.”