The Calgary Roughnecks (3-3) held on for a thrilling 15-13 road win over the Minnesota Swarm (1-5) before a crowd of 8,468 at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night. With Minnesota winless at home and Calgary winless on the road entering the game, something had to give in Saint Paul.
“You gotta earn it,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “Our guys understood the magnitude of this game and we haven’t strung together two wins all year so it’s important for us to be able to do that.”
Leading the attack from Calgary was Curtis Dickson (5+2), who scored a game-high five goals, along with six points from Dane Dobbie (4+2). Other notable performances came from Karsen Leung (2+0), Daryl Veltman (2+5) and Jeff Shattler (1+2). Mike Poulin was solid in goal with 28 saves for the Roughnecks.
Swarm scorers included Jordan Macintosh (3+3) who scored a brilliant one-handed goal off a spin dodge and Shayne Jackson (3+2) whose natural hat trick in the fourth quarter got the team back in it. Alex Crepinsek (1+1), Mike Hobbins (1+0) each tallied their first goals of the season while Cam Flint scored his first NLL goal. Callum Crawford (1+3), Logan Schuss (1+1) and Andrew Suitor (1+0) had notable performances in the loss. Swarm goalie Tyler Carlson produced 33 saves and stood in goal the whole game.
The Swarm led with 46 shots, but Calgary’s 43 shots were enough to get the win. Minnesota was unable to connect on the powerplay, missing all three of their chances while Calgary produced on two of their three attempts.
“Our focus was on our systematic stuff and getting ourselves back because at the end of the day we can’t really control what they do and they can’t control what we did,” said Malawsky.
The first quarter provided all the excitement expected from two teams thirsty for a win. Calgary’s Dickson (2+3) was quick to open the game with a fast goal in the second minute. Minnesota’s Cam Flint and Mike Hobbins (1-0) responded with one goal each - both notching their first goals of the season. A back-and-forth game of competitive offense and defense left the game tied at three at the end of the first quarter.
The Roughnecks took control when they were first to fire again in the second quarter as Dane Dobbie (4+2) lofted one into the net. Not to be outdone, The Swarm responded with three of their own, including two by transition player Jordan Macintosh (3+3). Still neck-in-neck at the half, Minnesota had a slim 7-6 lead over Calgary.
“We played hard and talked about what we had to do at half time,” said Calgary forward Curtis Dickson. “We were able to accomplish that.”
In the third quarter, things began to change. What started off as a Swarm surge turned into a Calgary scoring streak. Crepinsek delivered his first goal of the season in the first ten seconds of the second half, but Minnesota was stunned by Calgary’s three unanswered goals. By the end of the third quarter, Calgary had charged back to take the lead by two.
“Minnesota played a great game, they’re a very good transition team,” said Malawsky. “They battled back and our guys stuck to it.”
An exciting fourth quarter began with a blanket of Roughnecks goals that seems to cool the Minnesota fans. However, within two minutes, Shayne Jackson (3+2) scored three unanswered goals of his own - an electrifying natural hat trick that brought the crowd to their feet and the score to a mere 14-13 Calgary lead.
“It was just a matter of time before he had a breakout like that. I think every game you can expect that out of him - he’s a great player,“ said Jordan Macintosh.
“He’s very creative and he’s very deceptive and he finds himself a good hole,” said Malawsky. “He potted some big goals.”
But the second-year player Jackson didn't find much comfort in any personal stats without the win to go with it.
“At the end of the day, a loss is a loss,” said Jackson. “It doesn’t matter who gets the points, it’s more important for the team to win, especially when you're 1-5 like we are now.”
And for Jackson’s team, it was a loss. Minnesota goalie Tyler Carlson produced 28 saves on 43 shots but it wasn’t enough in the losing effort. The Roughnecks took advantage of loose balls, grabbing 70 in comparison to the Swarm’s 59. Mike Poulin was solid in goal with 33 saves for the Roughnecks and held the Swarm to zero goals in each of their three power plays. Calgary’s offense was able to score on two of three Roughneck power plays.
Dickson's penalty shot goal with less than a minute remaining sealed the deal for the Roughnecks after a too many men call on the Swarm.
The Calgary Roughnecks are happy to bring their record up to the .500 mark but aren’t getting too comfortable.
“We’re coming back to Calgary and we’re gonna see a really tough Vancouver team that’s hungry for wins as well as we are,” said Malawsky.
Meanwhile, the Swarm are still searching for that extra push to amp up the offense and diminish the marginal mistakes that end up costing the game.
“When you get a young group of guys those mistakes are gonna be made,” said Swarm assistant coach Bobby Keast. “So we gotta do everything we can to prepare them and get them refocused.”
“You gotta believe that things are gonna change,” said Macintosh.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Dane Dobbie
2) Jeff Shattler
3) Shayne Jackson
Next week bears similar importance as both teams look to add to their win columns on Saturday, Feb. 15 when Minnesota hosts the unbeaten Edmonton Rush at 7 p.m. ET at Xcel Energy Center while Calgary hosts the Vancouver Stealth at 9 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Saddledome.