CALGARY, AB — The Calgary Roughnecks summoned the Force to defeat the Vancouver Stealth 16-12 on Star Wars Night in front of 12,856 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
“I’m sure it was with us tonight,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky, who praised his players for their 60-minute effort. “There’s going to be ebbs and flows in the game where you can’t be at your best, but you’ve just got to keep grinding. I think that was a big part, we kept on grinding and when there was an opportunity for us to be at our best, we were at our best, so I was pretty proud of the guys for staying the course.”
The Force was especially strong in Curtis Dickson, who fired four goals and added two assists to lead the charge for the Roughnecks (7-9), who can clinch a National Lacrosse League playoff berth with a win over the Stealth next Saturday on the road at the Langley Events Centre.
“That was a huge win against a team that’s right on our tail for that last playoff spot,” said Dickson, who has recorded at least a hat trick or better in seven straight games. “We’re going to celebrate this win and we have to go out and play a similar game next week against the same opponent.”
Thanks to his interstellar night, Dickson set a new franchise record for goals in a season with 55 eclipsing the old mark of 51 set by Dane Dobbie a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (actually only a couple years ago in 2014).
“It’s pretty cool,” said Dickson, who’s second in the NLL in goal scoring this season behind Dhane Smith (58) of the Buffalo Bandits. “Obviously with a lot of the guys you’ve seen playing on this team in past years, it’s a pretty cool record to hold. I hate to sound cliché, but we’re just worried about getting wins right now and getting into the playoffs.”
Dane Dobbie had a hat trick and two helpers for the Riggers, while Jeff Shattler and Wesley Berg each scored once and set up three others. Tyler Digby scored twice and Scott Carnegie notched his first of the season and added two assists.
Malawsky praised Carnegie not only for his offensive output, but for his defensive performance as well.
“I’ve been around for a long time with Scotty,” said Malawsky, who gave Carnegie the game ball. “I won a championship with him. That might be one his best games he’s ever played. It wasn’t because he scored in transition, but he distributed it really well too. He played phenomenal defence. His minutes have been big all season long. He stepped up. He’s been a veteran we can lean on and we can count on. It’s not a surprise to us.”
After he scored in the third quarter, which stood up as the game-winning goal, Carnegie had a big smile on his face and was congratulated by all his teammates and coaches.
“When D guys like me get one or two a season, guys get pumped for it,” said Carnegie, “It was exciting. I appreciate that. You don’t want to go the whole season without a goal.
In appreciation of first responders, Carnegie also made a personal contribution to the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society, which was matched by the Calgary Roughnecks Foundation for a total of $1,900.
“That’s for a good cause,” he said. “I don’t mind doing that. It was good to have the first responder night and the Star Wars night. It was a good atmosphere. The fans were great. It was loud again. It was a good win for us.”
Garrett McIntosh, Curtis Manning, Greg Harnett and Jon Harnett also scored for the ’Necks, while goalie Mike Poulin stymied the Stealth by stopping 37 of 49 shots he faced.
Corey Small led the way for the Stealth (3-11) by scoring twice and adding six assists, while Keegan Bal, Rhys Duch, Logan Schuss and Joel McCready had two goals each.
Jordan Durston and Thomas Hoggarth also scored for Vancouver, while Tyler Richards (27 saves) and Eric Penney (14 saves) split time in the Stealth net.
The Roughnecks must have felt like they were trapped in a trash compactor in the first quarter as the Stealth jumped out to a 3-1 lead.
After a short break, the Riggers launched into hyperspace and outscored the Stealth 7-2 in the second quarter to take an 8-5 lead.
The ’Necks continued blasting away in the third quarter with six more goals compared to only two by the Stealth as Calgary entered the final frame leading 14-7.
Faced with an extremely daunting task, like that of blowing up the Death Star, Vancouver managed to outscore Calgary 5-2 in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to defeat the Dark Side, namely the Riggers who were wearing special black, nebula-pattered jerseys featuring Darth Vader on the front.
“I was a little surprised they went with the Dark Side theme, but it paid off,” said Carnegie.