CALGARY, AB — Calgary Roughnecks captain Mike Carnegie has played a lot of National Lacrosse League games, but perhaps none better than the one he suited up for on Saturday night.
Dane Dobbie scored at 10:17 of overtime to lead the Roughnecks to a thrilling 11-10 win over the Colorado Mammoth in the NLL’s West Division semifinal at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
“It was one of the best lacrosse games I’ve played in,” said Carnegie, who has appeared in 140 regular season games and 23 more playoff contests with the Riggers. “The NLL should be very proud of the product that went on tonight. Hopefully it goes a long way to securing more fans and elevating this game to a level it should be at.
“We played almost 15 minutes of overtime. It’s unbelievable. Guys are dying in that room – banged up, bloody. It was just an unbelievable lacrosse game.”
Dobbie took a pass from Jeff Shattler before firing a low shot past Colorado goalie Dillon Ward for his second goal of the game to go with three assists.
“It was bound to end at some point,” said Riggers forwards Curtis Dickson of the game which will go down as the longest playoff overtime game in NLL history. “Luckily Dobes got an open shot and finished it.”
Calgary goalie Mike Poulin finished the game with 55 saves, including seven in the extra session, to backstop the Riggers to the first-round playoff victory.
“He made some huge saves,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “When the game was on the line, he shut them down and gave us an opportunity to go back the other way. Their guy played real well too, but our guy came up big. He’s been with the organization for a long, long time. He didn’t want it to end. He willed us to get to that win.”
The Roughnecks will now host Game 1 of the West Division final on Saturday, May 14 (7 p.m.) against the Saskatchewan Rush, which finished tied at 13-5 with the best record in the NLL with the East Division’s Buffalo Bandits.
“Come tomorrow morning, everybody’s focus will be on Saskatchewan,” said forward Tyler Digby, who scored Calgary’s first two goals of the game against Colorado and finished with a hat trick. “They’re a very good team and it’s going to take a full effort from every guy on the team.”
The Rush will host the second game (and deciding 10-minute mini-game, if necessary) in Saskatooon on Saturday, May 21.
Dickson led the way offensively for the Riggers with five goals and four assists, Wesley Berg scored once and set up three others and Shattler chipped in with five assists.
Jeremy Noble and Adam Jones each had four goals for the Mammoth, while Chris Wardle and Joey Cupido had singles.
The Roughnecks held both John Grant Jr. and Callum Crawford without a goal, although both players finished with three assists each.
Ward had a strong game in net for the Mammoth as he finished with 47 saves, including four in overtime.
After Noble and Wardle scored a pair of early goals for Colorado, Digby cut around a Mammoth defender and fired a shot to the short side past Ward at 9:18 of the first quarter before he bounced a shot through the Mammoth goalie’s legs just 28 seconds later.
“I think it was just being in a good position and getting off good shots,” said Digby. “The goaltending on both sides was very good tonight. I was lucky to get us those two in a row and bring us back to being tied up there.”
Dobbie put the Riggers up 3-2 with a power-play goal at 11:59 of the opening frame before Dickson scored his first of the game 62 seconds into the second quarter. Jones and Noble then responded with goals 49 seconds apart to pull the Mammoth into a 4-4 tie.
Despite taking a big hit, Berg was able to get a shot away that beat Ward at 9:29 of the second before Noble replied 5:07 later to knot up the score once again heading into the halftime intermission.
Dickson scored a pair of shorthanded goals in the third quarter, while Jones converted a power-play opportunity for the Mammoth.
Noble notched his fourth goal of the contest early in the fourth quarter before assisting on a goal by Jones to give Colorado an 8-7 advantage.
Dickson then scored his fourth of the game before Digby completed his hat trick at 6:19 of the fourth quarter to put the Riggers back up by a goal.
Just 11 seconds later Cupido scored on a breakaway before Jones fired a long-range shot past Poulin 20 seconds after that for the Mammoth, which gave Colorado a 10-9 lead.
Dickson then forced overtime when his rising submarine shot beat Ward to the top corner with just 24.9 seconds remaining in regulation.
“Our guys battled,” said Malawsky. “They went up late and we just stuck with the game plan. Guys just competed and we pulled it out in the end. We had some special individual efforts that put us over the top.”