The Calgary Roughnecks (3-2) won their third straight game and extended their regular season winning streak to nine games against the Edmonton Rush (1-3) with an 18-15 road win at Rexall Place in the first 2013 installment of the "Battle of Alberta" on Saturday night.
The Roughnecks jumped out to an early 3-1 lead but the Rush responded with a five-goal run to take a 6-3 lead late in the first quarter.
“Our [morning] shootaround was terrible, our focus was off,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “We were dropping balls in the shootaround, dropping balls in the warmup and we got it handed to us early in the game.”
Calgary responded and scored twice in the final minute for a 6-5 deficit entering the second quarter. The teams traded goals in the high-scoring first half as the teams entered the break tied 10-10. Rush rookie phenom Mark Matthews regained the lead for Edmonton by making it 12-11 almost five minutes into the third quarter.
But Calgary answered with a five-goal run of their own to take a 16-12 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Rush scored three straight to pull within 16-15 after Matthews scored his second goal with 1:48 remaining, but the Roughnecks scored twice in the final 1:02 to secure the win.
"That’s the biggest thing we are going to take from this game," Malawsky said. "[Edmonton] came hard at the end and we battled back."
Jeff Shattler recorded a game-high eight points (2+6) while Dane Dobbie had five points (2+3) and Geoff Snider scored a hat trick for the second consecutive game for the Roughnecks and finished with a whopping 22 loose balls. Ryan Ward had a team-high seven points (3+4) and Jeremy Thompson scored three goals for the Rush in the losing effort. Calgary went 3-for-3 on the power play while Edmonton went just 1-for-7.
“There were points in the game where it could have been anybody’s to take,” Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan told Gerry Moddejonge of the Edmonton Sun. “Probably at the end of the day, their special teams was better than ours. A lot of it had to do with [Roughnecks goalie] Mike Poulin. I thought he played unbelievable.”
Poulin made 45 saves on 60 shots while Rush netminder Aaron Bold, suffering from the flu, allowed six goals on 12 shots before backup Brodie MacDonald finished with just 17 saves on 29 shots in relief. MacDonald did make some spectacular stops, including a penalty shot save on Calgary’s Curtis Dickson, which helped keep them in the game.
Calgary will look to make it 10-straight wins against Edmonton next weekend when they host the Rush at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 9 p.m. ET, the second of four meetings between the clubs this year.
“We’re starting to bond and we are starting to get the systems down,” Roughnecks forward Dane Dobbie told Moddejonge. “Hopefully we can win at home next week. We are 0-2 there. Our crowd is really big for us there and we need to get them a win.”