SASKATOON, SK — The Saskatchewan Rush rallied with five unanswered goals, four in the fourth quarter, to defeat the Calgary Roughnecks 9-6 in pre-season action in front of 12,300 fans at SaskTel Centre on Friday.
Robert Church led the Rush attack with a hat trick while Mark Matthews and newly acquired Adam Jones scored two goals each. Graeme Hossack and Ryan Dilks chipped in with a goal apiece.
Karsen Leung, Holden Cattoni, Dane Dobbie, Tyson Bell, Wesley Berg and Mike Carnegie each scored single markers for the Roughnecks, who took a 5-1 lead into the second half.
Rookie goaltender Christian Del Bianco got his first taste of NLL action for the Riggers, allowing three goals during his first-half stint against one of the most lethal offenses in the league. Frankie Scigliano took the reigns in the second half and surrendered six goals.
Things turned ugly in the final minute of the contest when Riggers defender Greg Harnett was whistled for a five-minute elbowing infraction. The incident fueled several tussles including Scigliano and Rush backstop Aaron Bold squaring off.
Calgary jumped out to a 2-0 lead on tallies by Leung and Dobbie before Matthews finally solved Del Bianco.
The Riggers opened the second quarter striking three times to open up a 5-1 lead. A shorthanded goal courtesy of Bell was followed up by singles from Cattoni and Berg.
The Rush found the net twice before the half to cut the Riggers’ lead to 5-3. Jones and Church doing the damage.
Mike Carnegie scored Calgary’s lone goal in the second half to put the Roughnecks up 6-4, a shorthanded tally but the Rush answered back on the same power play with Church converting.
Saskatchewan went on a four-goal run in the final quarter and gained their first lead of the game when Jones ripped his second of the match to provide the Rush with a 7-6 edge.
Matthews added an insurance marker and Church completed his hat trick to round out the scoring.
The Roughnecks open the 2017 NLL season at the Scotiabank Saddledome against the Vancouver Stealth on Jan. 6 at 7:00 PM MT.