SASKATOON, SK. — The Calgary Roughnecks fought back to within a goal, but ultimately fell 11-9 to the Saskatchewan Rush at the SaskTel Centre on Saturday night.
Trailing 9-5 after the first half, Calgary outscored Saskatchewan 3-0 in the third quarter before Mark Matthews completed his hat trick at 4:18 of the final frame to put the Rush up 10-8.
Although Curtis Dickson counted his third goal of the game a short time later, Jeff Cornwall sealed the victory for the Rush by virtue of an empty-net goal with 26 seconds left on the clock.
“Obviously we didn’t have a very good first half in terms of our game plan,” said Roughnecks assistant coach Bruce Codd. “We were a little bit undisciplined in the first half and gave them a couple opportunities on the power play. Obviously they’re very dangerous, but I thought we played a really good second half. We came out and got a little bit of momentum from our power play and shut them down a little bit.
“Unfortunately we had kind of a tough call at the end of the game to put them on the power play. We battled hard. If we probably played the whole 60 like we did the second half I think we get a different result.”
Dickson led the Roughnecks (6-9) with a hat trick and three helpers and equalled the franchise record of 51 goals in one season that Dane Dobbie set in 2014. He still has three games remaining this season to set a new standard.
Dobbie also had a three-goal performance to go with one assist, while Jeff Shattler scored once and set up four others. Rookie forward Reilly O’Connor had a goal and an assist, while Garrett McIntosh also scored.
Frankie Scigliano started in net for the Riggers and finished with 37 saves. He was relieved for a short period early in the first quarter by rookie netminder Christian Del Bianco, who saw his first National Lacrosse League action.
Matthews had a hat trick and three helpers for the Rush (10-3), while Robert Church had two goals and three assists. Ben McIntosh scored twice and set up another, while Brett Mydske, Riley Loewen and Zack Greer also scored for Saskatchewan. Rush goalie Aaron Bold made 35 saves.
The Rush led 4-3 after the first frame and then outscored the ’Necks 5-2 in the second quarter. Dickson then scored twice in the third quarter, while Dobbie added another to complete his hat trick as the Riggers pulled within a goal before the Rush tightened up defensively in the fourth to win in front of 14,941 fans.
“I think it was a tale of two halves,” said defenceman Dan MacRae, who finished with an assist, four loose balls and one caused turnover. “We kind of dug ourselves a hole. We didn’t have much jump in the first 30 minutes there, but we showed some great compete, great resolve making it a close game. Unfortunately a couple bounces, a couple calls just weren’t going our way. We dug ourselves too deep. We thought we had great compete, great heart coming back, but just too little, too late.”
The Roughnecks will return home to the Scotiabank Saddledome next Saturday (7 p.m.) to host the Vancouver Stealth (3-10), which dropped a 13-11 decision at home to the Toronto Rock on Saturday.
“The best thing is we control our own destiny,” said MacRae. “We still have Vancouver here and we’ve got to win at home. If we do that, we’re in pretty good position.”
The Riggers will also play the Stealth on April 16 in Langley, B.C. in the back end of a home-and-home series that will help determine which team will earn third spot in the NLL’s West Division and a playoff berth.
“We like the way that we’re playing right now,” said MacRae. “We feel like we’ve got good momentum, great compete. The guys are really coming together at this point of the season. We feel like we’re ramping up for playoffs, but we’re not getting the results here or there. We’ve just got to string together those 60 minutes.”