That’s not what Curtis Dickson had in mind for his return.
Dickson returned to the Calgary Roughnecks lineup in a losing effort, with the visiting New England Black Wolves defeating the Roughnecks 16-10 in front of 12,439 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“It was probably the worst-case scenario. I came back when the team was playing well and tonight was a bit of a stinker,” said Dickson.
“As a unit, we didn’t have it on tonight. But in this league you have to forget about these things quickly, and thankfully we have a double-header next week, so we have a couple chances to redeem ourselves.”
The Roughnecks fell behind 4-0 at the 6:23 mark of the first quarter, and would continue to be smothered by the Black Wolves defense for the remainder of the first quarter and second quarter, taking a 9-4 deficit into the break.
The Black Wolves picked up right where they left off in the second quarter, scoring three-straight goals to build a 12-4 lead halfway through the third quarter.
The Roughnecks would then receive a glimmer of hope as they narrowed the gap to 13-9 early in the fourth quarter. But that was as close as they would come with the Black Wolves scoring another three unanswered goals to put the game to bed.
“It’s a bit of a catch game. We were playing really well and it’s game where you’re coming home, guys are feeling really good, but the start got away from us, then we’re chasing the whole game,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky.
“When you get down like that, it’s tough. You’re trying to preach and the guys are preaching to each other there’s another 45 minutes left in this game. But it’s tough when a bounce goes the wrong way and you’re down again.”
It was a rough night in goal for Christian Del Bianco, allowing 16 goals on 44 shots before being relieved late in the fourth quarter by Tyler Richards. On the opposite end, Black Wolves goaltender Doug Jamieson was stellar, stopping 44 of the 54 shots he faced.
Roughnecks forward Dane Dobbie had himself another big night on the scoresheet, tallying seven points (four goals, three assists) in the losing effort, while Dickson managed just three assists in his return to action. The Black Wolves offense was fronted by the usual suspects in Reilly O’Connor (four goals, two assists), Stephan Leblanc (three goals, six assists), and Callum Crawford (two goals, six assists).
Fortunately for Malawsky and his Roughnecks, they will head out on the road again to play two games in three days, taking on the San Diego Seals on Friday night, followed by the Colorado Mammoth two days later.
“When you’re not doing well, you have to continue to battle through those tough situations,” said Malawsky.
“One thing we’ve done year after year is we stick together and battle through those tough situations together, and we’ll continue to do that.”
For the Black Wolves, this is their second big win in as many games, as they defeated the defending NLL champion Saskatchewan Rush in their previous game.
Leblanc said one of their big keys to victory this time around was being able to steal the momentum early and not look back.
“We took a lot of the momentum we had built up from our last game against Saskatoon. When you get a big win over the defending champs like that, you have a lot of confidence going into your next game,” said Leblanc.
“We got off to a really hot start and maybe caught Calgary on their heels a little bit, and from there we just never let up.”
The Black Wolves will now head home for a date with the Georgia Swarm, where they will look to make it three in a row.
But despite their strong play over the last two games, Leblanc said they can’t afford to sit back and admire their work just yet.
“We’re not going to rest on our accomplishments. We know that wins don’t come easy. There’s not a lot of disparity in this league,” said Leblanc.
“We really need to focus on what’s next and what’s ahead, and it’s really all those little things that make the difference.”