CALGARY, AB — Wesley Berg waited to the final game of the regular season to score the biggest goal of his rookie National Lacrosse League campaign.
Berg scored his sixth goal of the game at 4:08 of overtime to lead the Calgary Roughnecks to a thrilling 18-17 win over the Toronto Rock on Saturday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
It was the fifth game of the season that went to an extra session the Roughnecks (8-10) and just the first overtime victory.
“Our team’s played so well all season,” said Berg, who also had an assist for a seven-point outing. “A couple times in overtime there we’ve had a couple bad bounces and things haven’t gone our way. That’s what happens in overtime. That’s why you’ve got to finish it in regulation.
“This time I think we weren’t going to take no for an answer. We needed to get hot going into the playoffs here and it was good for us to pull out the win.”
After recording a pair of hat tricks earlier this season, Berg notched the first sock-trick of his young NLL career to go with an assist in front of a boisterous crowd of 15,980 fans on hand at the ’Dome for Fan Appreciation Night.
“I said to him at the end, “Great game, way to step up kid’ and he goes ‘Finally, I knew it would come’,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “We all knew he’s a big game player. There’s a lot of guys around the league that are getting a lot of press and a lot of stats for Rookie of the Year. I don’t know how many of them have overtime winners in the NLL this year. He put the team on his back at various stages of the game.”
Curtis Dickson capped off his spectacular season by recording four goals, including his club record 61st goal of the campaign, and adding three assists.
When Dickson scored his 60th goal of the season, he pounded his chest with his fist and looked up to the sky in remembrance of his aunt Jill Halley.
“I had a family member pass away after a long battle with cancer,” explained Dickson. “This wasn’t a mean nothing game for me. I was playing for someone out there. It was nice to be able to do that for my aunt and get a win for the team.”
Fellow forward Jeff Shattler also had a productive game as he scored four goals and set up three others for the Roughnecks, who finished third in the NLL’s West Division.
The Riggers have now advanced to the post-season for 14 consecutive years and will face the Colorado Mammoth (12-6) in the first round of the playoffs next Saturday, May 7 (7 p.m.) at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
“It’ll be fun to play spoiler next Saturday,” said Berg.
“We’re ready to play against a tough Colorado team in their barn next weekend,” added Dickson.
Karsen Leung and Tyler Digby had a goal and three assists each, while Peter McFetridge and Garrett McIntosh also scored. Dan MacRae, Reilly O’Connor and Brandon Goodwin chipped in with four assists each.
Goalies Mike Poulin and Frankie Scigliano split time in net for the Roughnecks. Poulin started the game and stopped 13 of 20 shots he faced, while Scigliano made 30 saves, including four in overtime, to pick up the win.
Rob Hellyer led the Rock attack with seven goals and six assists, while Turner Evans also had a strong game with four goals and five helpers. Kasey Beirnes had a hat trick and four assists, while Jesse Gamble scored once and set up four others.
Kyle Aquin and Dan Linter also scored for Toronto and goalie Nick Rose stopped 42 of 60 shots he faced.
The two teams were tied 4-4 after one quarter before the Rock jumped out to an 8-6 lead heading into the halftime intermission.
The Riggers then outscored the Rock 7-2 in the third quarter before Toronto scored seven goals to Calgary’s four in the final frame to force the extra session.
In OT, Berg took a pass from O’Connor before bouncing a shot through Rose’s legs to the delight of the largest crowd of the season at the ’Dome.
“We were resilient,” said Malawsky. “Earlier in the year we struggled and we lost those overtime games. Whenever we were challenged and we had some adversity we came around and we battled. We just stuck to the process and our guys believed in each other.
“It wasn’t the most pretty game on the back-end side of it, but you’ve got to look at the other side of the floor offensively, I thought we were real good and our compete level was second to none out there. It was really, really nice to finally get rewarded.”