ROCHESTER, NY – The Calgary Roughnecks came up short in their quest to win their third Champion’s Cup in franchise history on Saturday night.
After beating the Rochester Knighthawks 10-7 at home on May 24, the Roughnecks needed just one more victory to capture their first National Lacrosse League title since 2009.
The Knighthawks had other ideas though as they won Game 2 by a score of 16-10 at home in the friendly confines of the Blue Cross Arena on Saturday before also prevailing 3-2 in the 10-minute tiebreaker game to make history by becoming the first NLL team to win three straight league titles.
“It’s tough, obviously coming into this game up one,” said Calgary forward Curtis Dickson, who followed up a hat trick and three helpers in Game 2 with another goal in the tiebreaker game. “It’s a game of runs. Obviously they went on more than we did. That’s what championship teams do. They win the big games and score the big goals when it matters.
“They’ve got a potent offence and they’ve got guys that can shoot the ball and put the ball in the net. Hats off to them. They deserve it. They’re celebrating out there and unfortunately we’re in the locker room right now.”
Craig Point scored twice, including the game-winning goal with 58.5 seconds remaining, while Joe Walters had a goal and an assist in the mini-game. Rochester goalie Matt Vince made 38 saves in Game 2 and then stopped seven of nine shots he faced in the tiebreaker game.
Shawn Evans and Curtis Dickson scored to put the Riggers up 2-0 in the mini-game, before Rochester rallied with three straight goals to deny Calgary’s Cup quest. Mike Poulin stopped eight of 11 shots he faced in the tiebreaker game.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “Our guys battled and they competed hard. Rochester was better than we were in the first game. In the second game, it could have gone either way. Even though we were on the losing end of it, we battled hard.”
Dickson pace Calgary’s attack in Game 2 with three goals and three helpers, while Jeff Shattler also had a hat trick to go with two assists. Dane Dobbie scored once and set up two others, while Evans (1g, 1a), Daryl Veltman (1g, 1a) and Scott Ranger (1g) also scored.
“I believe in every one of those guys in that room,” said Ranger following the heart-breaking setback. “It just hurts that it came down to one play. We just fell short. It’s just an awful feeling right now. They’re a heck of a good ball team over there. It’s a missed opportunity because I think we were better. We fell short at the end there.”
Poulin finished Game 2 with 27 saves, while back-up netminder Frankie Scigliano stopped three of six shots he faced in just under six minutes of action.
After sitting out Game 1, forward Dan Dawson returned to Rochester’s lineup with a vengeance as he notched a hat trick and four assists to lead Rochester to a Game 2 victory to force the mini-game. Dawson also had an assist in the tiebreaker game and was chose as most-valuable player of the Champion’s Cup.
Cody Jamieson also had a hat trick to go with three helpers for Rochester in Game 2, while Stephen Keogh had a four-point performance on three goals and one assist. Cory Vitarelli had two goals and an assist, while Walters (1g, 4a), while Point (1g, 2a), Paul Dawson (1g), Scott Self (1g), and Jon Sullivan (1g) also scored.
Evans opened up the scoring 36 seconds into the first quarter before Dickson scored just before the two-minute mark to put the Riggers up 2-0.
After Jamieson scored Rochester’s first goal of the game, Veltman fired a long-range shot past Vinc to put Calgary back up by a pair.
Keogh then snuck a shot through traffic before Dan Dawson scored a power-play goal late in the opening frame to tie up the score 3-3.
Walters scored a 2:32 of the second quarter to give the K-Hawks their first lead of the game before Dickson replied with a shorthanded goal and an even-strength marker to put Calgary back up by a goal. Just 23 seconds after Dickson’s hat trick goal, Shattler wired a long-range shot into the top corner to put the ’Necks up 6-4.
Rochester responded with three straight goals by Keogh, Vitarelli and Jamieson before the end of the second to take a 7-6 lead into the half-time intermission.
When play resumed in the second half, the K-Hawks picked right up where they left off as Vitarelli deposited a highlight-reel, over-the-shoulder shot into the net behind Poulin before Paul Dawson and Scott Self scored to put Rochester up 10-6.
Shattler then squeaked a shot past Vinc at 10:12 of the third before setting up a goal by Dobbie 77 seconds later. Then, with 0.3 seconds left on the clock, Shattler scored again to pull the Riggers within a goal.
That’s as close as they would get though as the K-Hawks outscored the ’Necks 6-1 in the final frame to force the tiebreaker game.
“Last week we were consistent and played four full quarters,” Dickson said. “Unfortunately, we came out in the second game there and just didn’t do what we needed to do. We let them go on some big runs and they put the game out of reach pretty early in the fourth quarter there. That’s something you can’t let happen and let them have the momentum heading into the mini-game.”