EDMONTON, AB — The Calgary Roughnecks battled back from 4-0 and 6-2 deficits to make it a game, but ultimately dropped a 10-8 road decision to the Edmonton Rush on Friday night.
Due to the loss, the Riggers now need to win Game 2 of the NLL West Division Final on Saturday, May 23 in Calgary at the Scotiabank Saddledome to force a 10-minute tiebreaker mini-game immediately afterwards.
“It’s a heartbreaking loss obviously,” said forward Curtis Dickson, who led Calgary’s offensive attack with three goals and an assist. “It’s a series, so we’ve got to come out focused next week, watch some film, see what we did wrong, see what we did right and fix our mistakes and come out ready to play.”
The ’Necks scored three times in the third quarter and twice in the fourth to pull into an 8-8 tie with the Rush before rookie Ben McIntosh wired a shot from the slot past Calgary goalie Frankie Scigliano to score the game-winning goal with 2:10 left in regulation.
“At the end of the day we were behind. It takes a lot of energy to battle back,” surmised Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “I thought we showed the fortitude and resiliency that we’ve shown all season long to be able to battle back. We tied it up late. Benny McIntosh made a great shot and we just weren’t able to get the ball back to have a real good look at the net after that.”
Zack Greer added an insurance marker to send the majority of the 7,690 fans at Rexall Place home happy.
Dane Dobbie scored twice and set up another for Calgary, Shawn Evans chipped in with a goal and four helpers, while Curtis Manning and Daryl Veltman also scored.
Scigliano did his best to keep the Riggers in the game as he stopped 35 of 45 shots he faced, while Aaron Bold made 29 saves at the other end of the floor to pick up the win.
“I thought our guys battled hard and it was two great teams with great goaltending and great defence and great offence,” Malawsky said. “It’s going to be a one- or two-goal game. Our guys left it all on the floor. There’s some things and some areas that we have to address and we’ll go back home and address that.”
Mark Matthews paced the Rush attack with three goals and four assists, while Greer also finished with a hat trick to go with one assist. Former Roughneck Matthew Dinsdale had a goal and three helpers, while Riley Loewen, Chris Corbeil and McIntosh also scored.
The Riggers had a great chance to open the scoring early in the first quarter, but Veltman rang a quick-stick shot off the crossbar behind Bold after a nice setup by Evans.
“We hit a lot of posts early in the game and Boldy was looking behind himself a lot,” Malawsky said. “It could have went either way.”
Matthews broke a lengthy scoreless drought by both teams at 8:31 of the first quarter when his long range shot found the back of the net behind Scigliano over his left shoulder. Just 68 seconds later, Greer took a pass from Matthews and scored an almost identical goal to give Edmonton a quick 2-0 lead.
After Scigliano made back-to-back saves to thwart a pair of scoring opportunities by Riley Loewen, the Calgary netminder wasn’t able to stop Corbeil from converting a breakaway opportunity at 11:16 of the first.
Matthews scored a nice diving goal at 2:18 of the second quarter to put the Rush up 4-0 before Dickson and Evans replied with goals 15 seconds apart to pull the Riggers within two. Both Dickson and Evans made nice moves to cut around Edmonton defender Adrian Sorichetti before tucking shots in behind Bold.
Matthews completed his hat trick at 8:30 of the second before Dinsdale scored five minutes later to give Edmonton a 6-2 lead.
Late in the second quarter, Calgary coach Curt Malawsky called a timeout and the move paid off as Veltman took a pass from Evans before firing a long-range shot past Bold with just two seconds left on the clock and Scigliano on the bench for an extra attacker.
Greer scored just 28 seconds into the second half to put the Rush up by four before Manning, Dobbie and Dickson reeled off three straight goals for Calgary before the end of the third quarter.
Loewen then put Edmonton up 8-6 with a goal 6:19 into the fourth quarter before Dickson and Dobbie replied with goals for Calgary to set up the frantic finish.
“I thought we didn’t start on time and that’s a big thing for us,” summed up Calgary captain Andrew McBride. “We need to be accountable coming out of the gate because it’s hard to battle back against a team like that. I thought when we did we really tightened up the reins and we were really close at the end. Sometimes when you get behind, you expend a lot of energy trying to chase and come back.”