The Calgary Roughnecks (8-5) scored seven fourth-quarter goals and took advantage of a late major penalty to move into first place in the West Division with a 13-11 road win over the Washington Stealth (7-6) at Comcast Arena on Saturday night.
Down 10-8 midway through the fourth quarter, the Roughnecks went on the power play after Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards was assessed a five-minute high sticking major, which he was forced to serve himself by rule.
“I really don’t have a comment on it until I see the tape but obviously it was a game-changing play,” said Stealth head coach Chris Hall. “We could have still tied it up. We made some mistakes in the last 10 minutes by some veteran guys that were costly.”
Calgary scored three goals on backup Matt Roik in less than two minutes with the man advantage and added a fourth on Roik shortly after to take a 12-10 lead with 2:39 remaining.
“That’s really why you practice your power play," said Roughnecks assistant coach Bob McMahon. “We’ve been pretty successful all year long and they stepped up and showed why they are the best power play in the league.”
The incident marked the second time this season that Richards has been forced to serve a major penalty. When these teams last met on Feb. 23, Richards took a similar penalty that allowed the Roughnecks to get back in the game but it didn't cost Washington the game that time.
“The one last time we played, I definitely deserved it. It was something I blatantly did, I lost my cool," Richards said. “This one, I was just trying to not get injured. The ref saw one thing. I don’t agree with what they called but that’s the call and it’s something that we have to live with. It isn’t going to change now so we have to move on.”
After Washington pulled with one with the extra attacker with 1:10 left, the Stealth had an opportunity to tie the game but failed to get a shot off before the shot clock expired before Calgary scored an empty net goal with two seconds left to seal the game.
Roughnecks forward Curtis Dickson scored four goals, teammate Shawn Evans, ranked second in NLL scoring this season, had a game-high seven points (1+6), and Dane Dobbie contributed five points (3+2).
Lewis Ratcliff (2+3) and Rhys Duch (1+4) each contributed a team-high five points for the Stealth.
"We talked about that there were going to be high emotions and lots of stuff going on late in the game," Hall said. "We could just feel it was that type of game and we talked about maintaining poise and doing our thing but we just didn’t get it done."
Calgary goalie Mike Poulin had 39 saves on 50 shots in the win, Richards made 31 stops on 39 shots while Roik had just two saves on six shots in the losing effort.
Stealth rookie Mitch Jones scored his first NLL goal in just his second career game and finished with two points (1+1).
“I felt a lot more comfortable this week,” Jones said. “Last week, I didn’t play as much and I hadn’t played for seven months but I got my feet underneath me and felt a lot better this weekend and hopefully I’ll keep getting better.”
The two teams will meet again next weekend in Calgary for the second leg of the home-and-home series, with the winner of that game claiming the regular season tiebreaker, which could be the difference between playing a home game or hitting the road for the first round of the playoffs.