What a wild 24 hours for the Calgary Roughnecks.
After defeating the San Diego Seals less than 24 hours prior, the Roughnecks (now 2-2) fell just short at home to the Philadelphia Wings (now 1-1) by a score of 8-7 in front of 11,352 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome Saturday night.
Due to a slight delay to the start of the game, the Roughnecks incurred a delay of game penalty to open the contest.
Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky said they made the best of what they knew was going to be a tough and fast turnaround from game to game.
“I though Mike Board and the Roughnecks organization did one heck of a job negotiating our travel. That’s not an easy trip to play back-to-back and then cross the border; it’s very difficult,” said Malawsky.
“It is what it is. It just seems like sometimes things are stacked up against us, and you just have to battle through it. It just builds character and it builds adversity. Was it a tough weekend? Yes. Did it build a lot of character in that room? Absolutely. We’ve had a lot of adversity over the first four games of the season, and you need that to build an identity.”
The Wings were able to take advantage early of the Roughnecks’ rushed pregame routine, grabbing a quick 2-0 lead off goals from Matt Rambo and Brett Hickey.
The two clubs would exchange goals shortly after, before the Roughnecks scored three straight goals to take a 4-3 lead courtesy of Dan Taylor, Curtis Dickson and Mitch Wilde. The Wings would knot the score up at 4-4 with a late goal to close out the opening frame.
Following what was a high scoring opening 15 minutes, both defenses tightened up significantly for the second and third quarters, with just three goals being scored combined between the Roughnecks and Wings.
The offense would pick up slightly in the final frame with each team finding the back of the net twice, including the Wings game-winner off the stick of Rambo with just two seconds remaining in regulation.
Roughnecks forward Curtis Dickson, who led the Roughnecks offense with four points (three goals, one assist), said the overall performance of their offense was nowhere near the level it needs to be.
“Offensively, we stunk. As a whole, as a unit, we need to be better,” said Dickson.
“When our defense put on an effort like that, they deserved a better result tonight.”
On the other side of the floor, Kevin Crowley led the Wings offense with seven points (three goals, four assists).
Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco was lights out, once again, stopping 47 of the 55 shots he faced in the losing effort, while Wings goaltender Zach Higgins turned aside 48 of the 55 shots fired his way.
Roughnecks forward Jesse King left the game midway through the second quarter after taking a dangerous hit into the boards, appearing to injure his shoulder. No update was available on the severity of King’s injury, but he was seen with his arm in a sling following the game.
The Roughnecks will now head on an extended break, not returning to game action until Jan. 18 when they visit the Rochester Knighthawks.
Although they’d like to get right back at it next week after suffering a razor-thin defeat like this, Malawsky said the time off is something the players need right now.
“If you look in that locker room, we need a break. There’s no question we need a break. The guys are banged up, so it’s tough,” said Malawsky.
“A lot of times you want to get back on the horse after loss, but we’ll take a couple weeks off. I don’t know if we really need three weeks off; we just had three weeks off, but it’s kind of nice of them to give us another three-banger. But we just play; we just play what’s in front of us. The rest will be well-served, and we’ll get ourselves as healthy as we can and be ready to march down to Rochester.”