The Rochester Knighthawks (7-7) improved their playoff chances by holding on for a 15-14 road win over the Calgary Roughnecks (8-7) before a season-high crowd of 12,340 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
Shawn Evans had three goals and seven assists in a losing cause for the Roughnecks (8-7), who will finish up the regular season next Saturday night with a road game against the Edmonton Rush (8-6).
“I think tonight was one of our best games we’ve played,” said Evans, who has scored 31 goals to go with 71 assists in 15 games this season. “It didn’t look like it on the scoreboard, but we came out here and gave it 100 per cent. A couple bounces didn't go our way and it ended up 15-14.
“It would have been huge for us to win that game and put ourselves ahead of Washington and Edmonton, but unfortunately, that didn't happen tonight. That's lacrosse. This league’s tight and this league’s competitive. You play hard and one team has to win and unfortunately we came up short.”
Evans now leads the National Lacrosse League in scoring with 102 points and is just three points away from setting a new franchise record for points in a season. The previous record of 104 is shared by former Roughnecks Lewis Ratcliff and Josh Sanderson.
“He’s been our emotional leader and he’s been our floor general,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky of Evans. “He wills teams to win. That’s why we targeted him to bring him in here. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and more. He’s just a special player and a special person off the floor. He’s a big part of our group. He’s rallying the boys right now.”
Despite the loss, Malawsky commended his players for putting in a solid effort.
“We were looking at our game on the floor and I thought our guys competed real, real hard,” he said. “I thought they left everything out there. I’ve been around the game for 38 years and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Those guys have got nothing to be ashamed off out there. We were one shot short.”
Jeff Shattler also had a strong game for the Riggers with four goals and two assists.
“It’s unfortunate,” Shattler said. “It was a one-goal game. They got the bounces and we didn’t. Our whole team played phenomenal from our defence to our goaltending to our offence, it’s just the breaks of lacrosse.
“We are looking forward to playing Edmonton -- forgetting about this one and moving on.”
Dane Dobbie finished with a hat trick, but he left the game with a knee injury after scoring his third goal of the game at 11:09 of the third quarter.
“He drove hard to the net and he just planted,” said Malawsky, while noting that Dobbie was taken to hospital for an x-ray. “It might just be a bone bruise. We’re not too sure. We just have to send him out to get it all taken care of. He’s a character guy and a heart-and-soul guy. Our guys battled back for him. We came up one short. We couldn’t get the win for him.”
Curtis Dickson had two goals and five assists, while Travis Cornwall (1g, 1a), Geoff Snider (1g), Joe Resetarits (4a), Greg Harnett (2a), Mike Carnegie (1a) and Matthew Dinsdale (1a) also hit the scoresheet
Dan Dawson paced Rochester’s scoring attack with three goals and eight assists, while Cody Jamieson (3g, 6a), Cory Vitarelli (3g, 3a), Johnny Powless (2g, 3a), Mike Accursi (2g, 3a), Craig Point (1g, 1a), Joel McCready (1a) and Joe Walters (4a) also contributed to the victory.
Matt Vinc stopped 44 shots in the Rochester net to record the win, while Calgary goalie Mike Poulin made 33 saves in a losing cause.
Jamieson counted a power-play 49 seconds into the first quarter before McCready scored 73 seconds later to put the Knighthawks up 2-0.
Evans replied for Calgary with back-to-back power-play goals before the end of the opening frame. Shattler and Dobbie then counted a pair of goals each and Evans added his third of the game as the Riggers jumped out to a 7-5 lead by 11:36 of the second quarter.
Jamieson added a late goal for Rochester in the second before Dawson and Vitarelli scored early in the third to put the K-Hawks up 8-7.
Shattler and Dobbie then scored their hat-trick goals for Calgary before Powless and Dawson replied to put Rochester up 10-9 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Riggers started the fourth with three straight goals by Dickson, Cornwall and Shattler before Accursi Powlesss and Jamieson answered right back for Rochester to put the K-Hawks up 13-12.
After Snider scored for Calgary, Dawson and Point responded with goals for Rochester. Dickson then scored with 18 seconds left in the game to pull the ’Necks within a goal, but that’s as close as they would get.
Recap by Laurence Heinen for CalgaryRoughnecks.com