Curtis Dickson scored the game-winning goal with 31 seconds left as the Calgary Roughnecks (4-2) earned their fourth straight victory with a 9-8 home win over the Edmonton Rush (1-4) before a crowd of 10,002 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
“We lost some one-goal games early on in the year and that’s the biggest thing we have progressed from there to here,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “You win those one-goal games because you learn from your mistakes. It was big for us.”
Dickson scored his fourth of the night, his third goal in the fourth quarter, to help Calgary defeat their provincial rival for the 12th-consecutive time.
Unlike Calgary’s 18-15 win over Edmonton last weekend, the second edition of the “Battle of Alberta” was a defensive battle. Both teams were held scoreless early on until Rush forward Jarrett Davis finally opened the scoring 9:14 into the game, the longest start to a game without a goal in the NLL this season.
“The quality of shots was the key," said Roughnecks goaltender Mike Poulin. "We managed to keep their guys to the outside – I didn’t see a lot of action in the middle. Every shot was contested. As a goalie, you can’t ask for more than that.”
With Edmonton leading 1-0 after the first quarter, Davis scored again on the power play one minute into the second quarter. But Calgary scored three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead into halftime, including Dickson's acrobatic diving goal past Rush goaltender Aaron Bold which finally got Calgary on the board almost 22 minutes into the game.
“Didn’t want to build [Bold's] confidence too high,” Dickson said. "He was blocking all the shots from the outside and I could feel it so it was nice to get inside and get one past him.”
The Rush regained the lead with two goals to start the second half, but Roughnecks star forward Shawn Evans scored with 59 seconds left in the third quarter to tie the game 5-5 at the end of the third quarter. Calgary’s Curtis Dickson scored twice in the first 5:17 of the fourth quarter but Edmonton’s rookie phenom Mark Matthews answered less than a minute later to cut the deficit to 7-6.
After Jeff Shattler regained the lead for the Roughnecks, Matthews responded again 22 seconds later to make it 8-7. After Ryan Ward tied the game for the Rush at 8-8 with 1:30 remaining, Dickson secured the win with the late goal.
“They scored some goals at the end. Aside from that, our guys were rock solid back there," Malawsky said.
Both goalies had strong performances as Calgary’s Mike Poulin made 45 saves on 53 shots while Edmonton’s Bold had 44 stops on 53 shots in the losing effort. Matthews finished with a team-high four points (2+2) in the loss while Dickson’s four goals led all scorers. Calgary's second-year defenseman Greg Harnett scored his first career NLL goal in the second quarter.
After an 0-2 start at home, Calgary finally earned their first win at "the 'Dome."
“It’s fantastic,” Poulin said. “It was really great to reward these fans.”
The two teams will meet twice more this season with Edmonton still looking for that elusive regular-season win against their rivals. The Rush kept it close in two vastly-different games with the Roughnecks this season but were left with the same result.
“Both teams cleaned up their transition games tonight," said Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan. "We had our opportunities but we've got to figure out how to beat these guys because we have been right there with them every time.”