Curtis Dickson scored two late shorthanded goals to help the Calgary Roughnecks (5-3) hold on for a 17-16 road win over the Minnesota Swarm (2-4) at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night.
“You’ve got to give a ton of credit to the defense,” Dickson said. “The ‘D’ got good looks and found me out on the breakaways and I was lucky to bury a couple past them.”
Calgary required Dickson’s heroics after Minnesota outscored the Roughnecks 8-4 in the third quarter to erase a four-goal halftime deficit.
“It was incredible,” Swarm forward Ryan Benesch said of the third quarter. “[Sullivan] fired us up and we stuck to it and came back.”
Calgary built multiple leads throughout the night thanks to a high-powered offensive attack. The Roughnecks outshot the Swarm 57-43.
“When our offense is moving the ball it’s incredible to watch,” said Calgary forward Shawn Evans. “We spread out their defense and we got them moving. Any time you give us open looks, we’re a tough offense to stop. I think we played great tonight.”
Evans scored two goals and tied a franchise record with nine assists in the victory. Evans assisted on five of Roughnecks forward Scott Ranger’s six goals after Ranger had just eight goals over the team’s first seven games.
“I think Scotty would [have] said he’s been struggling,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “Tonight, he was everything. He knew that we needed a big night and I thought he really stepped up and showed some great leadership characteristics. He shot the ball really well.”
Calgary’s penalty kill controlled the game, holding the Swarm power play to just 50 percent, which was crucial in a contest featuring 64 penalty minutes, 43 of which were assessed to the Roughnecks.
“Our penalty kill played awesome,” Dickson said. “[Mike] Poulin stood on his head back there and made some big saves at key times and we were lucky to get a couple chances at the end short-handed.”
It was just another instance in a long line of rough outings for the Swarm in the special teams department this season.
“You’ve got to go back and look at who you’ve got on the floor,” said Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan. “It really is as simple as that. We haven’t made big roster changes. We’ve not changed our ‘PK’ or ‘PP’. I’ve got to make a change, because it’s just not working.”
Some of those changes figure to come on the defensive side of the ball for Minnesota. The Swarm have allowed 12 goals or more in every game this season.
“I’ve got to say we’re probably the worst defense right now,” Sullivan said. “When you score 16 goals, you should win in this league.”
The win was pivotal for a Roughnecks team coming off a difficult 17-12 loss in Toronto on Friday.
“It’s huge,” Malawsky said. “To be able to keep ourselves right at the top of the pack in the West with the way things went last night with the other games, we really needed to keep ourselves in the mix.”