It was the final home game of the regular season for the Calgary Roughnecks, and they did not disappoint.
Powered by a quick five-goal outburst to start the second half, the Roughnecks defeated the Buffalo Bandits 16-9 at the Scotiabank Saddledome Saturday night in front of 17,113 fans.
The Roughnecks scored with three seconds remaining in the first half to tie the game 7-7 and swing the momentum in their favour for the second half, which proved to be critical.
“It was massive. Anytime you can carry momentum into the half, it’s good,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky.
“It just gives us that little bit of fire coming in, and takes some of the wind out of their sails.”
Until the second half, neither team managed to pull ahead by more than a single goal, with the lead bouncing back and forth for the majority of the first half.
With the momentum of tying the game late in the first half, the Roughnecks shut-out the Bandits in the third quarter, while potting five goals of their own to carry a 12-7 lead into the final quarter of play. They continued to build the lead in the fourth quarter, reaching as high as 16-7 before the Bandits finished with a couple quicks goals.
“We talked about checking all the boxes; offense, defense, special teams, goaltending, discipline, and faceoffs,” said Malawsky.
“I thought we checked all the boxes tonight, and when you do that, that’s the outcome.”
The Roughnecks were led in scoring by Wesley Berg with eight points (one goal, seven assists), while Mitch Jones (two goals, two assists) and Dhane Smith (one goal, three assists) led the way for the Bandits.
Roughnecks forward Holden Cattoni also had a big night on the scoresheet with seven points (five goals, two assists) of his own.
Cattoni said to be able to start the second half the way they did, both offensively and defensively, showed how well they played as a team, especially against a Bandits team in desperate need of a win.
“Limiting their transition and limiting their cheap goals that kill our momentum was big for us tonight,” said Cattoni.
“We came out and did our job. Nothing more, nothing less.”
For the Roughnecks defense, it was a tale of two halves, as they allowed seven goals in the first half, compared to only two goals in the second half.
Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco bounced back nicely from a rough first half to finish with 45 saves on 54 shots for the night, while Bandits goaltender Alex Buque struggled overall, finishing with 25 saves on 37 shots. Zach Higgins came on in relief of Buque after the Roughnecks went up 12-7, but didn’t fare much better, allowing four goals on 19 shots.
This loss could prove costly for the Bandits in a tight eastern conference playoff race. Next weekend, the Bandits will welcome the Toronto Rock to Buffalo in hopes of bouncing back from tonight’s setback, and staying alive in the playoff race.
“We need to just stick to our game plan and focus on the little things,” said Bandits forward Dhane Smith.
“Playoff mentality; every game’s big from here on out.”
- Holden Cattoni
- Dane Dobbie
- Christian Del Bianco